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Blake Morant Named Dean of Wake Forest University School of Law

Professor Blake D. Morant, a distinguished scholar and national leader in legal education, has been appointed by President Nathan Hatch to the deanship of Wake Forest University School of Law. With this step, the School of Law advances its long-standing commitment to providing an outstanding legal education characterized by small classes, a highly-productive and collegial faculty, the cultivation of high ethical and professional standards, and an embrace of an increasingly diverse and interconnected world.

Blake Morant is currently the Roy L. Steinheimer, Jr. Professor of Law and the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at Washington & Lee University School of Law, where he previously served as Director of the Frances Lewis Law Center. In keeping with the Wake Forest teacher-scholar model, Professor Morant has distinguished himself both in his teaching and his scholarship. He has won many teaching awards and has published extensively on topics including contract theory, media law, and administrative law. He is the first American to deliver the Annual Thomas More Commemorative Lecture at St. Dunstan’s Church, Canterbury, England. Professor Morant has deep roots in both academia and the practicing bar, having served in a wide range of professional contexts including the American Bar Association Committee on Diversity (of which he has been vice chair), the editorial board of the Journal of Legal Education, the Professional Development Committee of the Association of American Law Schools, and the Virginia Supreme Court’s Task Force to Study Gender Bias in Virginia Courts.

Professor Morant was born and raised in Hampton, Virginia. He attended the University of Virginia on an R.O.T.C. scholarship, receiving his commission as a Second Lieutenant, United States Army, upon graduation in 1975. He then enrolled in the law school at Virginia, and upon graduation in 1978 served for a number of years at the rank of Captain in the Army’s Judge Advocate General Corps. He received an honorable discharge in 1985 and was awarded the U.S. Army Meritorious Service Medal – First Oak Leaf Cluster.

Following his military service, Professor Morant spent seven years practicing law in Washington, DC, first in private practice and then with the Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority. His academic career began in 1988 and has included positions with American University’s Washington College of Law, the University of Toledo College of Law, the University of Michigan Law School, the University of Alabama School of Law, and, most recently, Washington & Lee University School of Law. Professor Morant also has been a visiting fellow of University College, Oxford.

Professor Morant’s wife, Paulette (P.J.), grew up in Norfolk, Virginia, and has taught Spanish at Lincoln University, Pennsylvania, and in high schools in North Carolina, Virginia, Michigan and Ohio. P.J. and Blake met as undergraduate students at the University of Virginia and share many interests, including volunteer work with civic and church organizations, a love of tennis, and music. In fact, as service to the community, Blake regularly serves as cantor at a local church.

Blake Morant will succeed Robert K. Walsh as Dean of the School of Law in the summer of 2007. Dean Walsh steps down after a remarkable and successful 18-year deanship in which he has led the School of Law in establishing a national and international reputation for its scholarship and teaching, while maintaining Wake’s traditional emphasis on professional service and ethics. Dean Walsh will return to the faculty in the fall of 2008.

Wake Forest President Nathan O. Hatch announced Morant’s appointment on May 15, 2007 in a letter e-mailed to the university’s faculty, staff and students.

“I could not be more delighted with the appointment of Blake Morant as dean of the School of Law,” Hatch said. “In succeeding Dean Walsh, Professor Morant inherits a law school that occupies a special place at Wake Forest, in our state, and in our nation, and certainly is highly regarded in the legal academy. I am confident that Professor Morant will continue and build upon this legacy at the law school, so ably led by Bob Walsh these many years.”

Professor Morant offered these thoughts in connection with his selection: “The Wake Forest University School of Law has garnered considerable esteem in the legal academy thanks to its unique blend of outstanding students, a gifted faculty of teacher-scholars, an amazingly dedicated staff, and superb leadership spearheaded by the legendary Dean Robert K.Walsh. I consider it a privilege and honor to join this special community as its new Dean and look forward to contributing to the Law School’s fine tradition of excellence.”

Justice Elizabeth B. Lacy, of the Supreme Court of Virginia, observed that Professor Morant has an “outstanding ability to connect with and understand people.” Robert Grey, a past president of the American Bar Association, noted that he “is loved by students, respected by faculty and has handled himself well as an outstanding law school administrator.” Carl Monk, the executive director of the Association of American Law Schools, added that Blake Morant “is already a significant leader in legal education nationally.”

Blake Morant served as associate dean for David Partlett, former dean of Washington & Lee law school and current dean of Emory law school. Dean Partlett stated that he has “the utmost admiration for Blake” and sees in Morant and Wake Forest law school “the perfect match.” David B. Wilkins, Kirkland and Ellis Professor at the Harvard Law School, declared that Morant “will place Wake Forest at the forefront of law schools that are seeking to forge a new partnership between the academy and the profession. He is the perfect person to prepare students, faculty, and alumni to confront the challenges – and appreciate the opportunities – of being a lawyer in the increasingly diverse, competitive, and global legal services market of the twenty first century.”

Professor Richard Brooks of the Yale Law School commented, “This is an absolutely wonderful choice. Blake is a thoughtful and generous colleague, who will bring warmth and distinction to the post. His openness to ideas and persons will surely foster an engaging scholarly community that admits (or better, welcomes) wide ranging perspectives.”

Larry Sitton, a partner with Smith Moore LLP and a graduate of both the Wake Forest law school and college, observed that “Blake Morant’s past experience as a JAG officer and a practicing attorney, in addition to his outstanding record as a law school professor and administrator, equips him with the perfect blend of professional knowledge and skill to lead Wake Forest law school to the next level. Blake understands and appreciates the uniqueness of Wake Forest School of Law and will work well with all of the law school’s constituencies – faculty, students, staff and alumni.”

Dean Robert K. Walsh commented that he “talked to a great number of national leaders in legal education about Blake Morant during the search process. These are friends whose opinions I value highly. They universally sang Blake’s praises as someone who is a natural leader and has good academic values, high integrity, a sense of humor, and wonderful people skills. After having met and talked with Blake, I believe that we have been lucky enough to attract someone who will be a great dean for the next stage in the development of the law school we all love.”

The selection of Blake Morant is the culmination of an exhaustive nationwide search involving hundreds of candidates, conducted under the leadership of Professor Suzanne Reynolds of the School of Law.