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Walsh to Retire from Deanship, Remain at School as Professor of Law

Robert K. Walsh, dean of the Wake Forest University School of Law, announced recently that he plans to retire as dean next summer.  Walsh, who will complete 18 years as dean in 2007, will remain at the School of Law as a full-time professor of law starting with the 2007-2008 academic year.

“During Bob Walsh’s term as dean, the School of Law has made enormous gains in the quality of its faculty, its students and its programs,” said Wake Forest Provost William C. Gordon.  “Certainly, the national and international reputation for excellence that the School of Law enjoys today is the direct result of Bob’s outstanding leadership over so many years.”

During his tenure, the Wake Forest School of Law moved into the Worrell Professional Center for Law and Management; opened the Legal Clinic for the Elderly; began the Master of Laws degree program for international lawyers; and started summer study programs for its students in Vienna and Venice, where Wake Forest owns residential study centers.  Walsh also led the development and completion of two long-range strategic plans for the school and saw the school through two university-wide capital campaigns.  Fundraising for the School of Law increased financial aid available to students and supported the creation of four faculty chairs and three endowed professorships. He has seen the School of Law through a major transition in faculty, with more than half of the current faculty joining the school during his tenure.

“I’ve been privileged to participate in developing the best law faculty in America,” Walsh said.

Under Walsh’s leadership, the school won a number of awards and honors, including membership in the prestigious Order of the Coif, the Emil Gumpert Award for Excellence in Trial Advocacy from the American College of Trial Lawyers, and the E. Smythe Gambrell Professionalism Award from the American Bar Association for its three-year comprehensive professional education program.  In 2004, the National Jurist magazine declared Wake Forest the “best private law school for the money” in the United States, based upon such factors as bar passage rates, placement rates and student-faculty ratio. 

Walsh has served in a number of state and national bar leadership positions.  He has been a vice president of the North Carolina Bar Association and a member of its board of governors.  He also was a founding member of the North Carolina Chief Justice’s Professionalism Commission.  In 2000, he was the chairperson of the American Bar Association Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar.  This council is the nationally recognized accrediting authority for law, as well as one of the two national learned societies for law schools.  In 1993, Walsh was a co-founder of the ABA Seminar for New Law Deans, which for its first 10 years was held at Wake Forest’s Graylyn Conference Center.  He remains on that seminar’s faculty.

Walsh was recently elected as national vice president of the American Inns of Court Foundation, and he was also recently reelected to serve as a board member on two other national legal organizations: the National Association of Law Placement Foundation (NALP) and the ABA’s Central European and Eurasian Law Initiative (CEELI).

For the future, Dean Walsh and his wife, Kathie, intend to stay as part of the Wake Forest and Winston-Salem communities.