One of legal education’s most active leaders is moving on.
Washington University in St. Louis School of Law Dean Kent Syverud has been named the next chancellor and president of Syracuse University, effective in January.
Syverud has led the Missouri law school since 2005 and recently finished a year-long stint as chairman of the American Bar Association’s Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar. That group oversees the ABA’s accreditation and oversight of law schools.
Syverud has often spoken publicly about the challenges confronting law schools, most recently before an ABA task force examining the future of legal education with a comment he acknowledged would be controversial.
“The painful truth is that the problem with costs is that law professors and deans are paid too much relative to the amount of work they do,” he told the task force. “The whole problem of costs would go away tomorrow if our salaries were halved.”
Syracuse’s board of trustees unanimously approved Syverud’s appointment on Wednesday and announced the decision a day later. He was chosen from a pool of 270 candidates.
“Throughout the selection process, he distinguished himself by the impressive range and depth of experience he brings from having been a faculty member and academic leader at some of the nation’s best universities, by his demonstrated leadership on some of the most important issue facing higher education and the world today, and by his profoundly thoughtful and collaborative spirit,” board chairman Richard Thompson said.
Before assuming the deanship at Washington University, Syverud was dean of Vanderbilt University Law School and taught at the University of Michigan Law School.
In an address to the Syracuse community on Thursday, Syverud said that his affection for his students and colleagues at Washington University made the decision to leave difficult but that he looked forward to new challenges.
“I’m with all of you who have these loyalties and hopes and dreams,” he said. “Like you, I am committing everything I am and I have to this place, to our team and to achieving greatness here through patience, hard work, loyalty and a cheerful can-do attitude.”
In his time at Washington University, the school launched the nation’s first fully online master of laws degree and has expanded its online offerings since then. Syverud also serves as one of two independent trustees of the $20 billion Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Trust.
“Kent already has established himself as one of the most outstanding leaders in higher education, and we have been fortunate to have the benefit of his leadership to strengthen the quality and impact of our School of Law,” Washington University Chancellor Mark Wrighton said. “He also has done much to advance the mission of our entire university.”