St. John's University School of Law's Leonard Baynes
St. John’s University School of Law’s Leonard Baynes ()

The University of Houston has named Leonard Baynes as the next dean of its Law Center.

Baynes is a professor who now leads the Ronald H. Brown Center for Civil Rights and Economic Development at St. John’s University School of Law. A well-known advocate of diversity in legal education and the profession, he founded a summer program at St. John’s that since 2005 has helped minority-group undergraduates prepare to take the Law School Admission Test and with other aspects of the law school application process.

“I think [heading the center and prep program] has prepared me for this next step,” Baynes said in an interview on Monday, after his appointment was announced. “Diversity is very important to me and it has allowed me to raise funds, develop programs, work with faculty and be entrepreneurial.”

Baynes raised $1.6 million for the Brown Center and prep program in eight years. Fundraising no doubt will be a significant portion of his new job, which he will assume on Aug. 15 pending final approval by the university regents. Baynes will replace interim dean Richard Alderman, who has served since February 2013. Former dean Raymond Nimmer stepped down after seven years in the job.

Baynes was one of six candidates, according to the university. “The search process included the valuable input of our students, faculty and staff, as well as many alumni and community members,” Provost Myrick Short said.

Baynes said he hopes to create a minority pipeline program at Houston.

“Law schools are facing strong headwinds in terms of declining applications, and we need a strategy to deal with that challenge,” he said. “We need to create a new supply of students, and the advantage of a pipeline program is that you create a supply of individuals with great potential but who don’t have everything you’re looking for right now.”

Baynes said his other top goals are to keep the law school financially and academically strong.

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