The deans of the Mississippi College School of Law and Ave Maria School of Law have announced plans to step down at the end of the academic year.

Jim Rosenblatt has led the Jackson, Miss., law school since 2003 and plans to return to teaching next year. Eugene Milhizer similarly plans to teach after relinquishing the reins at Ave Maria, a Roman Catholic-affiliated school in Naples, Fla., in 2009.

“I remain committed to the law school and to our distinctive mission of educating lawyers with the finest professional skills, rooted in the natural law and the Catholic intellectual tradition,” Milhizer said on Tuesday.

The news came a week after the law school sued the federal government over its mandate that health insurance plans cover contraception and certain abortifacient drugs. The Alliance Defending Freedom—a religious legal advocacy organization—is assisting Ave Maria with the case.

In a written statement, the school credited Milhizer with strengthening its Catholic identity and lauded his “outspoken advocacy of religious liberty.”

During his tenure, Milhizer established the school’s Advanced Critical Thinking department, which aims to help students develop their empirical skills and prepare for the bar exam. Additionally, as acting dean he oversaw the school’s move to Florida from Ann Arbor, Mich.

Rosenblatt oversaw a transformation of Mississippi College’s campus with the addition of three new buildings and the renovations of existing facilities.

“One can’t do this forever,” Rosenblatt said. “I have a sense that the end of this academic year will be an appropriate time to make the transition from dean to faculty.”

As dean, Rosenblatt has strengthened the school’s practical skills programs and founded international study programs in France, Mexico, Germany, China and Korea.

“Jim has done superb work as law school dean moving the program forward in so many impressive ways,” college president Lee Royce said. “He has been fully engaged in the life and work of the law school connecting with students, staff, faculty, alumni and friends while making such a positive impact upon all who meet him.”

Before teaching, Rosenblatt spent more than 30 years in the U.S. Army’s Judge Advocate General Corp and retired with the rank of colonel.

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