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Message from Dean Douglas

William & Mary Law Dean Davison M. Douglas sent the following message to the W&M Law School community Oct. 2, 2019. - Ed.

To the Law School Community:

I recently told President Rowe that this year will be my final year as Dean of the Law School.

I did not come to this decision lightly.  This has been the best job that I have ever had, and I am so grateful that I was given the chance to serve William & Mary and its students in this way.  

As it happens, I am one of the longest serving law deans in the nation.  Most deans serve about five years; I am in year eleven, which makes me the second longest serving law dean at William & Mary since the middle of the nineteenth century.

The timing of my decision has much to do with the University’s For the Bold fundraising campaign which will conclude in 2020.   This campaign is absolutely vital to the long term success of the law school.   I decided early on in my tenure as dean that I would serve until the end of the campaign and do everything I can to help us achieve the bold fundraising goals we set for ourselves.

We were the first unit on campus to reach our goal in this campaign.  And once we hit our goal, we set a higher one.   Our first goal was $50 million, then $75 million, and now $100 million.  We are in the final year and will be in a hard sprint to the finish line. 

I will then pass the baton to the next dean.

Being a law school dean today is not for the fainthearted.  The landscape of both legal education and higher education is constantly changing. There is always an unexpected challenge around the corner.

But for me, that is what has made the job both rewarding and, yes, fun!

I have also had the great pleasure of working alongside so many faculty and staff who care deeply about the law school and the students whom we educate.  I have relied on their efforts, and I have been inspired by their commitment to the law school.

I have always thought that one of the greatest gifts in life is the opportunity to work with students.  This is what drew me into higher education in the first place.   When asked by a stranger on an airplane what kind of work I do, I always say that I am a teacher. My work with students has brought me tremendous joy, both personally and professionally.

To that end, I am not leaving the law school.  After I finish my service as Dean next summer, I will return to the faculty and resume my work as a teacher and scholar.   (I have two books that I am looking forward to completing.)

In the coming weeks, you will hear more from Provost Peggy Agouris on plans for the search. I am excited about the future of William & Mary and its direction under the leadership of President Rowe and Provost Agouris. I am grateful for their partnership and support and look forward to working closely with them in the years ahead.

I am also very much looking forward to this new chapter in my life. Many thanks to all of you for the opportunity I was given and for joining me along the way!