Photo of Jessica Berg and Michael Scharf, courtesy of Annie ONeill.
Michael Scharf and Jessica Berg, courtesy of Annie ONeill.

After a decade of progress, law school co-deans to step down

After a decade spent steering the School of Law from recovery to resurgence, co-deans Jessica Berg and Michael Scharf have chosen to step down from their leadership roles this coming summer. 

“Michael and Jessica have been exceptional advocates for the law school,” President Eric W. Kaler said. “They have strengthened academic offerings, broadened experiential learning opportunities and increased financial support for students. We appreciate their dedication, and thank them for their leadership.”

When the two first became co-deans in the fall of 2013, the law school faced declining enrollments, financial challenges, and deep concerns among alumni and other supporters. Today they can point to impressive increases in fundraising, faculty diversity and community engagement—as well as other major improvements.

“This is an amazing place to work, with incredible staff, faculty and alumni whose commitment to the law school, to students, and to the broader community have made it possible to achieve so much over the last decade,” Berg added. “I feel lucky to have been a part of it all!”

Added Scharf: “Serving as co-dean with Jessica has been a dream job. We’ve complemented each other so well. I’m astonished by all that we’ve been able to accomplish with the help of our colleagues and alumni these past 10 years.”

Among the school’s achievements have been the:

  • best median LSAT score (160) in school history;
  • top 10 national rankings for its mock trial and moot court programs; and
  • extensive building renovations, technology enhancements and academic initiatives funded through donor support.

The co-deans realized those gains with an approach that involved both close collaboration on larger strategic considerations and clear delineation of more specific responsibilities. 

“During the past 10 years, Jessica and Michael worked tirelessly for the law school—first to restore confidence, and then to strengthen education and scholarship,” Interim Provost and Executive Vice President Joy K. Ward said. “I respect their decision to step down, although their inspiring leadership will be missed.”

The university plans to launch a national search for the school’s next dean; Interim Provost Ward will update the community as this process gets underway.