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The dean of the Emory University School of Law abruptly announced his resignation Tuesday, ending his reign at the private law school after just three years. Thomas C. Arthur, a veteran professor who was elevated to the deanship after two controversial searches, cited personal reasons for his resignation. His tenure in charge of the 650-student law school, he said in a prepared statement, has come at “a high cost to my family life, my intellectual life and scholarship, and my teaching, all of which I miss greatly.” He was not available for comment as of press time. Arthur plans to return to teaching at Emory, but his announcement came before school administrators even had time to put an interim plan in place. Emory officials and faculty will determine in the coming weeks who will lead the law school while it gears up to search for a new dean, said Elaine Justice, the school’s spokeswoman. Dr. Thomas J. Lawley, the dean of the Emory University School of Medicine, will chair the search committee for the next law school dean. The school’s press release announcing Arthur’s resignation offered that his quick exit was not prompted by Emory’s significant drop in U.S. News & World Report’s annual ranking of the country’s top 100 law schools. The school slid nine spots, from 23 to 32, in the most recent survey, released earlier this month. The University of Georgia School of Law ranked 36; Georgia State University College of Law ranked 85th; and Mercer University’s law school tied for 100th place. “It is unfortunate that the rankings came when they did because the casual reader will conflate the two,” Emory’s provost, Earl Lewis, said in the press release. Lawley, who will lead the search for Arthur’s successor, may be encouraged to run a smoother — and quicker — search than the school has had in the past. When former Dean Howard O. Hunter announced his resignation in 2000 after 12 years at the helm, administrators launched what would become an 18-month national search for his replacement. The school’s first attempt to find Hunter’s successor sparked controversy because two of the three final candidates were not lawyers. The search ended 10 months later when the sole lawyer, Davison M. Douglas, a law professor at William & Mary, withdrew his name from consideration. After a second search, Arthur, who has taught at Emory since 1982, was named dean.

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