Now that Dean Nell Newton’s resignation from Hastings College of the Law is official, the school will be turning to the task of naming an acting dean and launching the dean search.
“This is a tough time,” Professor Rory Little said this morning. “It’s an unfortunate surprise in the sense that any time there’s a break in continuity it can be disruptive, but it’s not earth shattering.” With the school facing ongoing budgetary, construction and hiring issues, Little said, it will be important to ensure continuity at least through the end of June.
We all know dean searches don’t move at warp speed. Guesses at who’s likely to take the helm in the meantime, after the jump …
Hastings announced today that Newton would be leaving her post at the end of the spring semester to join Notre Dame Law School July 1.
Little said a number of Hastings names come to mind for acting dean, among them professor Shauna Marshall, who is the second in command as academic dean. Other plausible picks would be Mary Kay Kane, who was dean for 13 years, as well as professor Leo Martinez, a former associate academic dean.
“The loss of Nell’s charisma and energy will be a big loss, but I don’t think anybody thinks she’s irreplaceable,” Little said.
Marshall, who said she learned of Newton’s Notre Dame offer about a week ago, said that Newton is ending her contract early. Her term was five years, Marshall said. She downplayed the impact her departure will have. “It’s really not going to change the direction that we’re going and how the programs unfold,” she said. “There’s some schools where the dean is the school. Hastings is not one of those schools; it’s a collaborative effort between the faculty, the administration and the staff. … The work that she’s helped create will just carry on.”
Marshall said that an acting dean designee will be named in the next few weeks and will work with Newton until the end of her tenure. “We’ll be moving quickly,” she said. A national search committee will probably be announced in the summer, she said.
She is not interested in the deanship, she added. “I feel very supported by my faculty and staff and I think they’re very proud of my work as academic dean, and I think I’m in the right job for my skill set,” she said. “I don’t think Mary Kay Kane will come back as acting dean. I think Leo Martinez is a possibility, but there are many people on our faculty with strong administrative skills,” she said, adding that the associate academic deanship is a rotating position, and many faculty members have that experience under their belts.
Though Little said there are plenty of challenges for the new dean, he and other faculty members agree that Newton is leaving Hastings in a better spot. “She’s totally re-energized this place,” Little said. “The financial future looks a lot better here than it does at other UC schools, the centers are exploding with interest … we’ve admitted the highest academic-profile classes we’ve ever admitted, there’s a ton of student involvement and activity. It’s an intellectual feast.”
— Petra Pasternak