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Nell Jessup Newton, who broke ground in 2000 as the University of Connecticut School of Law’s first female dean, will be heading back to her legal roots on the West Coast. Last week, Newton announced her appointment as chancellor and dean of her alma mater, the University of California Hastings College of the Law. The new job takes effect Aug. 1. “It’s very hard. I love this place,” Newton, 61, said of leaving UConn Law School. Newton, who lived in San Francisco for 11 years, received the Hastings offer on Dec. 19. Being half way through her sixth year at UConn, Newton wasn’t looking to leave, she said. “Our tradition here [at UConn] is the dean stays for 10 years. So the timing wasn’t great,” she told The Recorder, The Law Tribune‘s sister publication in San Francisco. When she first got a call from the Hastings dean selection committee asking her to visit, Newton informed the panel she was staying put. However, during the school’s six-month nationwide search, Newton rose to the top of the short list of candidates thanks to her superior fund-raising skills. In the end, it was an offer she couldn’t refuse. She will be Hastings’ second female dean in the larger school’s history. “The pulls home are extraordinarily strong,” Newton admitted. “At this point, I can’t resist it.” Many on the Hastings staff already know Newton, and she has friends in high places, such as Carol Corrigan, the 1st District Court of Appeal justice tapped for the California Supreme Court earlier this month. “We [are] very good buddies,” Newton said of Corrigan. James Mahoney, chairman of the Hastings selection committee, called Newton an “all-star” and said it was “very important to us that she’s a Hastings alum.” Newton will replace Mary Kay Kane, who, after 13 years, is stepping down as chancellor and dean in favor of a teaching job at Hastings. ‘EXEMPLARY SERVICE’ Despite her decision, Newton continues to promote the Hartford law school. Under her watch, the school’s endowment nearly doubled to $16 million. Newton also helped raise the school’s curriculum and its faculty’s reputation to new levels. “Over the past five and a half years, Nell Newton has provided exemplary service to the law school … ,” University of Connecticut President Philip Austin said. “She has worked tirelessly and effectively to enhance the quality of the school’s program and its base of support within the state and throughout the legal community, and leaves the law school in very good condition.” “Nell deserves a lot of the credit,” added UConn Law School Foundation President Lawrence Mowell. Fund-raising has been “key since day one” of Newton’s tenure, he said, noting “she approached the job with enthusiasm and desire.” Newton’s intention was to meet every lawyer in the state and cultivate relationships with graduates to increase the amount of giving to the school, Mowell said. Among the fruits of those efforts that Newton said she is proudest of is the $750,000 the Chase family gave this year to establish the Cheryl A. Chase Endowment to provide programmatic support. Chase, a member of UConn Law’s Class of 1978, is executive vice president and general counsel of Chase Enterprises in Hartford. Newton also singled out large donations by well-known Hartford plaintiffs lawyer William R. Davis to establish the school’s Asylum and Human Rights Clinic and by Bridgeport-based Koskoff, Koskoff & Bieder toward its moot courtroom. Students working in the Asylum and Human Rights Clinic “literally save people’s lives,” Newton said. “They have an incredible win rate over the national average.” But not all of Newton’s goals for the school were achieved. When she started, the school was expected to create an Intellectual Property Law Center, but the funding was lost. The faculty did, however, manage to put together an IP certification program. Newton, a legal scholar in American Indian law, also sought to establish a policy center to focus on legal issues affecting Eastern Indian tribes. But there was opposition on the state and federal level. The school does offer a course on American Indian law, which Newton will teach during the spring semester. Two years into her term, Newton was faced with dangerous flaws to the school’s library. The fa�ade of the then 6-year-old building was coming loose, and permanent repair costs were reaching into the millions. Although the repairs may not be finished before Newton leaves, progress has been made, she said. Professor Jeremy R. Paul was associate dean and first introduced Newton more than five years ago. He called her “a breath of fresh air for the school.” Reached last week, Paul said he still considers her to be that: “There’s definitely something about her spirit in community building. We’re all sad to see her go. It’s a loss for the school.” An interim dean has yet to be named. Provost Peter Nicholls is starting the search process by collecting names for the search committee, according to his office. Connecticut Law Tribune sister publication The Recorder contributed to this report.

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