Law school chooses new dean

BY SAM LANE | JANUARY 19, 2010 7:30 AM

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Gail Agrawal’s two trips to Iowa City have been rather eventful.

The newly appointed 17th dean of the UI College of Law made her first trip to Iowa City during the large blizzard in December. The second trip, last weekend’s introductory and house-hunting visit, resulted in a confusing car ride home.

“I’ve had a lot of exciting travel adventures,” the New Orleans native said.

But her overall impression of Iowa City wasn’t destroyed.

“Iowa City is a wonderful college town,” said Agrawal, who will leave her post as dean of the University of Kansas School of Law. “I look forward to moving this summer. The community is just beautiful.”

In addition to residing in Iowa City in July, Agrawal said, she’s eager to make a change.

She looks forward to the UI administration’s development of a health policy that could keep the law school highly regarded, she said.

“I want to make sure that Iowa is and remains a top law school in the country,” Agrawal said. “We will be confronting challenges in changes to the legal economy.”

After earning a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of New Orleans, Agrawal received a Master’s in Public Health and J.D. degrees from Tulane University. When she finished law school, she was a law clerk for Senior Judge John Minor Wisdom of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit as well as for Justice Sandra Day O’Connor of the U.S. Supreme Court.

In addition, Agrawal practiced law for seven years with the firm Monroe & Lemann in New Orleans.
She also worked for three years for the insurance company Aetna. During that time, she was invited to the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor to teach ethics.

“I so much enjoyed my time as a teacher that I decided it was my calling, not a hobby,” Agrawal said.
Agrawal later served as a member of law faculty at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill for nine years, eventually becoming senior associate dean, associate dean for academic affairs, and interim dean.

In 2006, Agrawal was named the first female dean of the University of Kansas School of Law.

UI officials look forward to the large amount of experience and knowledge Agrawal will bring.

“She has a strong commitment to public education,” said Eric Andersen, an associate dean at the law school and a vice chairman of the search committee. “She’s someone with high energy, good ideas, good common sense, and she connects well with faculty.”

Agrawal, who was nominated last spring when she wasn’t actually looking for a job, was selected from a nominee pool of almost 200.

“We’re in a transition period,” said N. William Hines, a dean emeritus at the law school. “The college needs a leader who has a vision of where it’s going. She has a lot of good ideas and leadership strengths.”

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