The University of Dayton School of Law has named Paul McGreal as its new dean.

McGreal — now a professor at Southern Illinois University School of Law — will replace outgoing dean Lisa Kloppenberg in July 2011, university officials announced Tuesday.

In addition to teaching, McGreal was an interim associate dean of for academic affairs and is the director of faculty development at Southern Illinois.

“What excites me is working on creating institutional incentives and policies that support people doing good work,” McGreal said. “This is a law school that’s been entrepreneurial in looking at curriculum and the recruitment of students.”

McGreal said he was attracted to Dayton because of its reputation for curriculum innovation. The school launched its “Lawyer As Problem Solver” program in 2005, emphasizing practical skills and requiring students to take a course in alternative dispute resolution, an externship and at least one clinical or capstone course based on a practice simulation. Dayton was among the first to launch an accelerated two-year J.D. program.

McGreal plans to assess those programs and look for ways to improve them, as well as for ways to keep tuition affordable. Fundraising will be a key aspect of his new job. “We have to think about ways we can address the increasing cost of law school,” he said.

Addressing “legitimate” concerns over job prospects from applicants and students will likely be one of his biggest challenges, McGreal said.

“He is an outstanding candidate with an exceptional scholarship record, leadership traits and enthusiasm for the job,” said attorney and university trustee Jack Proud, who co-chaired the law dean search committee.

Before joining the faculty at Southern Illinois, McGreal taught for 10 years at South Texas College of Law. His primary areas of scholarship are constitutional law, religion and the law, First Amendment rights and business ethics.

McGreal knows he will have big shoes to fill at the law school. Kloppenberg — who spearheaded the Lawyers as Problem Solver program and the two-year J.D. — has been dean for 10 years and is seen as an innovator in legal education circles. She plans to return to teaching.

McGreal hopes to build upon Kloppenberg’s reforms.

“You have a faculty that is already responsive to that type of leadership and will rise to that challenge,” he said. “I feel like I’ve been handed a wonderful opportunity to continue that innovation.”

Karen Sloan can be contacted at ksloan@alm.com.