Case Western Reserve University School of Law.
Case Western Reserve University School of Law. (hoto: Denacipriano via Wikimedia Commons)

Case Western Reserve University School of Law won’t hire a permanent dean anytime soon. University leaders have announced that interim deans Jessica Berg and Michael Scharf will lead the school for at least the next year.

The two took over in November, when former dean Lawrence Mitchell took a leave of absence after a faculty member claimed that Mitchell retaliated against him for reporting suspected sexual harassment of law school staff. Mitchell resigned the deanship in March.

“From the very start of their leadership, Jessica and Michael made clear that the school’s success demanded a collective effort,” university president Barbara Snyder said. “By encouraging active and broad engagement, they helped create an environment where everyone recognized they could contribute—and did.”

Administrators said they consulted law school faculty, staff, alumni and students about whether to launch a national search for Mitchell’s permanent replacement, but most stakeholders suggested staying with Berg and Scharf for now.

They said the number of law school applications had increased by 50 percent for the academic year set to begin in the fall over the previous one.

“The community respects Jessica and Michael and believes they can help continue the current positive trajectory,” Provost W.A. “Bud” Baeslack III said. ”We appreciate their excellent work to date and look forward to seeing the school build on last year’s results.”

Leaders have tentative plans to start a national dean search in 2015, which could leave Berg and Scharf in charge for three years.

Litigation between the university by Raymond Ku—the law professor who reported Mitchell’s alleged conduct to university leaders—settled in July following mediation on undisclosed terms.

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