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After two dean searches spanning more than a year, Emory University has asked Vanderbilt law school professor James F. Blumstein to lead its law school. But Blumstein and university President William M. Chace still are negotiating. “I feel privileged that I have been asked to become the dean of Emory law school, and I will confirm that,” Blumstein, 56, said from Tennessee during a telephone interview. “Very constructive conversations are taking place between the president and myself, and the hope is that a marriage can be made.” Chace did not respond to requests for comment. Emory law professor Richard D. Freer, head of the dean search committee, responded via e-mail, saying he had “nothing to add.” Blumstein said no deadline has been set on his discussions with Chace. According to a source close to the talks, Blumstein and Chace have discussed how the university’s central administration could support cross-disciplinary initiatives such as starting a health law and policy program. One of Blumstein’s areas of expertise is health law, and he is the director of the Health Policy Center at the Vanderbilt Institute for Public Policy Studies. The source said Blumstein and Chace also discussed the support — monetary and otherwise — that the central administration might offer to the law school’s budget, fund-raising efforts, access to foundations and donors, and its alumni outreach. Money has been a major issue throughout Emory’s search for a new law dean. The law school’s endowment — $21.9 million in fiscal 2001 — is small compared to schools similarly ranked by U.S. News & World Report. For example, the University of Georgia’s law school endowment is $41.6 million; the law schools at Washington University in St. Louis and at the University of Notre Dame boast endowments of more than $100 million. In an earlier interview, former Emory law Dean Howard O. Hunter said the university provides about 20 percent of the school’s $20 million annual operating budget. He called that level of support generous. But four of the five dean candidates in this search — including Blumstein and two internal candidates — indicated in speeches to students and faculty that the law school’s budget is too low, and the university needs to contribute more. In his speech to students and faculty, Blumstein, who tends not to mince words, said the law school could not continue to feel “screwed” by the university’s central administration. He called such feelings a cancer that must be stopped. Though Blumstein, in his conversation with the Fulton County Daily Report on Monday, wouldn’t comment on financial discussions with Chace, he did say that the goal “is to develop and maintain a close working relationship with all units of the university, and to focus on a reciprocal relationship with the central administration.” That reciprocity, he said, means that the university wants assurance from him that he’ll offer effective leadership, nurture academic growth, and raise money for the school. Chace’s choice of a dean candidate wasn’t publicized to most faculty until recently. Dean search committee Chairman Freer e-mailed the law faculty March 27, announcing that Blumstein would be visiting the campus on the following two days, but offered no further information about the purpose of the visit. Blumstein met with faculty informally, at their regular meeting on Thursday, to chat and let them know he was in talks with Chace. If Chace and Blumstein can agree on a working relationship, the search for a law dean, which has lasted more than a year, will end. Early in 2001, a search committee headed by Emory law professor Jeffrey N. Pennell began looking for candidates, and by October had selected four — two of whom were not lawyers. The two candidates who were lawyers withdrew their names from consideration — one just days into the process, and the other just days before Chace called off the search in December. A new search, headed by Freer, began immediately. This search had five candidates — Blumstein; Duke law professor Thomas B. Metzloff; University of Georgia law professor Thomas J. Schoenbaum; and two Emory law professors, Interim Vice Provost for International Affairs Thomas C. Arthur and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Polly J. Price. Price attended the faculty meeting with Blumstein and described it as “very warm and cordial.” She said Blumstein was well-received and got an extended round of applause from the 35 or so faculty members. Price said she recently accepted a post as a visiting professor at Vanderbilt for the fall semester, but that her decision to teach at Blumstein’s school did not indicate any hard feelings about the dean selection process. If Blumstein does become Emory’s dean, Price said that, when she returns from Vanderbilt, she’d be willing to continue as associate dean if he were to ask. “I think he would be a great dean. I would be delighted, and I’ve told him that,” she said. Arthur, the other internal Emory dean candidate, did not return a call seeking comment about Chace’s offer to Blumstein. Blumstein said he felt last week’s meeting with the professors went well. “I felt a great warmth toward the faculty,” he said. “And they were kind enough to reciprocate that warmth.”

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