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Professor Richard Revesz accepted the baton of leadership at New York University School of Law on Friday from outgoing Dean John Sexton — literally. Standing before a gathering of his colleagues on the search committee, Sexton, who last May was appointed president of NYU, handed Revesz a purple “baton of excellence” he claimed had been held successively by the law school’s past deans. “We’ve always had this sense of ourselves as being an institution in a relay race,” Sexton said later, describing the school’s philosophy of always being on the lookout for potential leaders. “We want to pass it on to the next generation.” Revesz, 43, will assume the deanship on June 1. Born and raised in Argentina, Revesz first moved to the United States in 1979 to attend Princeton University, where he majored in civil engineering and public affairs. After receiving a master’s degree in civil engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1980, he attended Yale Law School, where he served as editor-in chief of the Yale Law Journal before graduating in 1983. Following a yearlong clerkship in 1983 for Judge Wilfred Feinberg of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Revesz served as a clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. It was during his Supreme Court clerkship that Revesz was first approached by NYU to consider coming to the school as a professor. Sexton, in his pre-dean years at the school, along with professor Samuel Estreicher, personally traveled to Washington, D.C., to recruit Revesz. “NYU was in the market for an environmental professor,” recalled Revesz, who since 1999 has served as a member of the Environmental Economics Advisory Committee of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Science Advisory Board. “They were extremely persuasive.” Also helping to persuade Revesz to take the teaching position was his future wife. Vicki Been, an NYU graduate who was clerking for Justice Harry Blackmun at the time, encouraged her colleague to consider her alma mater. Been herself became a professor at NYU in 1990, five years after Revesz joined the faculty. “At that time we were clerking together but we weren’t an item yet,” Been recalled. “The way it usually works is a clerk who had gone to a law school usually helps to set up those interviews [for that school]. I set it up for John and Sam and they asked who I would recommend. I said the smartest one here is Ricky Revesz.” The two clerks started spending more time together after Been joined Revesz on his regular jogging excursions. Because Justice Blackmun required all of his clerks to have breakfast with him each morning, Been could not attend the regular morning exercise classes Justice Sandra Day O’Connor organized for female clerks. The turn of events gave Been an opportunity to further sell Revesz on the idea of joining NYU’s staff. “It was really all for my love for the school,” Been said. “It wasn’t until several years later that it became a personal interest of mine too.” Today the couple live in Greenwich Village with their two children: Joshua, 10, and Sarah, 7. DEAN SEARCH The search to replace Sexton began last October. Professor Michael Schill, the committee’s chair, gathered together alumni, trustees, professors and at least one student to wade through the pool of about 65 candidates. After considering candidates both outside and inside NYU law school, the committee forwarded two names to Sexton and NYU President L. Jay Oliva. The choice came down to Revesz and Professor Richard B. Stewart, director of NYU’s Center on Environmental & Land Use Law. Faced with a difficult choice between two candidates they thought were both supremely qualified for the job, Sexton and Oliva chose Revesz because they thought he best exemplified the qualities needed to lead the school into the future. “In Richard Stewart you have a person who, in the unanimous view of the faculty, was our ‘leadership colleague.’ He would be on anyone’s list of leading law professors in the U.S.,” said Sexton, explaining the reasoning behind his choice. “Although Dick may be our greatest colleague, Ricky represented the next generation of leadership.” As for the shape that new leadership will take, Revesz intends to continue Sexton’s work increasing the school’s reputation globally by recruiting foreign professors and students. He also will continue to promote the school’s reputation as a leader in public interest work, including a financial aid program that will assist students who go directly into public interest work after graduation. As dean, Revesz, who plans to continue to teach a class each year in environmental law, will concentrate his efforts on reviewing and promoting his faculties articles and other scholarly work. “While I think John is one of the finest law school deans in recent history, my personal style will be different,” Revesz said. “My guess is I’ll be more connected to the intellectual life of the faculty than John. I see myself as being personally involved in trying to represent the substance of the faculty scholarship to the outside world.”

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