Deaning’s Seven Virtues

This blog was originally published on Oct. 14, 2007 by Professor Russell L. Weaver

OK, ok, so the number may not be exactly seven. However, the one question that people have asked me is why I focus on decanal sins so much, particularly the “deadly sins.” Aren’t there decanal virtues? The simple answer is “yes.”

I was thinking about titling this entry “In Praise of Tom.” In general, I do not intend to write about individual deans. This blog is not about individuals, but rather is about decanal issues. But I’m going to make an exception in this case (as well as in one later blog).

The “Tom” that I’m referring to is no longer with us. No, no, he isn’t dead. He has simply left the decanal and law school ranks to become a university president. But he is “gone” in the sense that we no longer have the pleasure of seeing him. Of course, the “Tom” that I’m referring to is Tom Galligan (however, I’ll refer to another “Tom” in a later entry).

So, why do I link this Tom with “decanal virtues?” Galligan was an extraordinary dean because he eschewed decanal narcissism and focused on ways to promote and further his faculty and his institution. Unlike some deans, Tom realized that a law school advances through the collective efforts of its faculty and staff.

Of course, I never had the pleasure of serving under Tom. However, I sensed that his faculty held him in like regard. When the Louisville deanship came open, I remarked to a friend at Tennessee that I had my eye on Tom (who was stepping down as dean at Tennessee) as our new dean. She told me in no uncertain terms that I had better not think about taking him away from them.

Even though I did not serve under Tom, I saw his virtuous traits from my position as Executive Director of the Southeastern Association of Law Schools. Whenever I’d send out a request for panelists, I would receive an immediate response from Tom touting one of his faculty members. The net effect was that a lot more of Tom’s faculty ended up on important panels than might otherwise have happened. In addition, he was unfailingly thoughtful in SEALS discussions and never allowed his ego to get in the way.

I am pleased to say that there are lots of other deans like Tom in our region. However, Tom was a pleasure to work with and is missed in the region (and, I’m sure, especially at Tennessee).


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