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Fordham University School of Law called on a familiar face to replace its beloved Dean John D. Feerick earlier this month, tapping William M. Treanor, a professor at the school since 1991. “Bill Treanor has been a leader of our new generation of faculty that is in its 30s and 40s,” said Feerick, who will officially end his 20 years as dean on Aug. 1. “As the more senior generation moves offstage, so to speak, he will bring in a sense of the future for our school.” Treanor, 44, a constitutional law expert, has also been directly involved in some of the country’s most high-profile federal cases. He served as associate counsel in the office of the Iran-Contra Independent Counsel from 1987 to 1990, where he handled appellate work and advised the office on complex criminal issues. From 1998 to 2001, during a leave of absence from Fordham, Treanor was a U.S. deputy assistant attorney general advising the executive branch on constitutional matters, including the impeachment of then-President Bill Clinton. Born and raised in Morristown, N.J., Treanor received his law degree from Yale Law School in 1985, after earning his undergraduate degree there in 1979. He also holds a master’s degree in history from Harvard University. In 1987, following a clerkship with 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge James L. Oakes, Treanor became special assistant to Chairman Joseph A. Califano Jr. on the newly formed state Commission on Government Integrity. While working for the commission, which was formed in the wake of the municipal corruption scandals of the 1980s, Treanor first met Feerick, who took over for Califano as chairman later in 1987. “We were trying to put together an office, hire a staff, and he did everything extremely well,” Feerick said of Treanor. “That first year was the most difficult year of my life because it was the height of the corruption scandal and the government leaders were pointing to the commission as having the answers. The young people like Bill Treanor were my best friends and wonderful colleagues in helping me cope with a most difficult assignment.” At the time, neither Treanor nor Feerick realized their working relationship would continue for more than 15 years. It was Treanor’s old college roommate at Yale, Fordham Law Professor Russell Pearce, who suggested he interview for a visiting professorship at the school in 1991. “I remember finding out that there was an opening here and I immediately called him,” recalled Pearce, who says he still gets together for a reunion with his college friends once a year. “Of all the people I’ve known, he is the one who is a natural scholar.” In the late 1980s, during his work on the Commission for Government Integrity, Treanor’s affinity for constitutional law led him to offer his services to special prosecutor Lawrence Walsh, who was investigating the Iran-Contra arms-for-hostages scandal. “I wrote Walsh a letter saying I was interested in joining his effort and I was hired,” said Treanor. He worked on legal matters, “such as the nature of conspiracy law and whether the elements were laid out,” he said. Then during the Oliver North prosecution, he worked on briefs at the trial, appellate and Supreme Court levels. Some high-profile Iran-Contra defendants, such as North and former National Security Advisor John Poindexter, eventually had the convictions for their roles in the Iran-Contra cover-up reversed because Congress had granted them immunity to testify. In 1992, however, Treanor successfully argued before the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals the appeal of the only Iran-Contra figure to serve jail time: Thomas G. Clines, a former Central Intelligence Agency operative who was convicted of tax evasion for underreporting his share of arms-sale proceeds. Treanor’s next major venture into public service also involved high-profile issues. As a deputy assistant attorney general with the federal Office of Legal Counsel, Treanor was charged with determining the answers to legal questions brought by the executive branch. “Bill worked on a lot of things, including national security issues, foreign affairs questions and reviewed executive orders to make sure they were constitutional,” said Randolph D. Moss, a partner in the Washington, D.C., office of Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering who was an assistant attorney general in charge of the Office of Legal Counsel at the time. The most high-profile issue Treanor worked on at the Office of Legal Counsel occurred in 2000, when then-Attorney General Janet Reno requested that the office prepare a memo on whether Clinton could be prosecuted criminally for perjury and obstruction of justice after being acquitted of those charges at his impeachment trial. After an exhaustive analysis of the intent of the framers of the Constitution, Treanor’s office determined that a criminal prosecution of Clinton would not violate the Constitution’s double jeopardy clause. “I think in a job like that you really have to be committed to legal principles,” said Treanor, who would not comment specifically on any case he dealt with at the Office of Legal Counsel. “There are times when you reach a result and you’d rather the law was the other way, but the integrity of the office and the respect of the office is dependent on giving the most honest legal answer that you can.” GOALS AT FORDHAM As dean of Fordham, Treanor lists a new law school building and increasing the number of faculty as his primary goals. He also wants to strengthen the school’s already successful clinical and moot court programs. In what little spare time he has, Treanor can likely be found practicing violin with his children: Liam, 6, and Katherine, 5. Treanor and his wife, Allison Ames Treanor, recently enrolled the children in the Suzuki violin course, which requires parents to learn to play in order to help the kids practice. “I achieved the Suzuki certificate for learning to play ‘Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,’” said Treanor. “I would like to try to continue on the violin, but my duties as dean may affect my ability to practice.”

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