University of Montana appoints acting dean of law school, plans to launch another recruitment – Daily Montanan
An interim dean will lead the University of Montana Law School this fall after a recruiting failed to bring a new leader to campus and two of the three acting co-leaders plan to leave UM .
This spring, UM had touted the credentials and experiences of four finalists for dean, and the provost confirmed Friday that the university had made offers. However, the post will be republished this summer, according to a letter from Provost Pardis Mahdavi.
“We have been unsuccessful in identifying the right leader for the law school at this time, despite the excellent efforts of the search committee over the past several months,” the letter sent to the law school reads.
In an email to the Daily Montanan, Mahdavi said the surge of interest in the position underscores the strong reputation of Alexander Blewett III Law School, Montana’s only law school: “Some offers have been made to During this process, and due to the strength of the candidates who initially applied for this position, we are very optimistic that this summer and fall we will once again identify more dynamic leaders.
Why UM couldn’t reach a deal this time was unclear, but the provost’s memo said Elaine Gagliardi would serve as acting dean starting July 1. A teacher since 2001, Gagliardi has held “a range of administrative roles” and is a respected teacher and scholar of estate and business planning, the letter says.
UM spokesman Dave Kuntz told the Missoulian that the cost of living in Missoula has affected nearly all of the university’s hiring. For example, the median cost of a home in the county has risen to $530,000 this year so far, from $452,000 in 2021, according to data from the Missoula Organization of Realtors.
Former UM Dean Paul Kirgis resigned in the fall semester, as did Associate Dean Sally Weaver, following student reports that the two women discouraged bringing sexual assault allegations to the Office of Equal Opportunity and Title IX. Kirgis remains on the faculty, and Weaver’s contract ended in the spring semester.
After the resignation, UM appointed three faculty members to lead the law school, Monte Mills, Sara Rinfret, and Cathay YN Smith. The provost’s letter noted that Mills and Rinfret will “pursue exciting opportunities beyond UM next year, and Smith will be on sabbatical next year.”
The letter said the provost would work with the search committee in the coming months to continue the search for the permanent dean: “We have learned important lessons from this search which we will use to revise the job advertisement and repost later in The summer hopes to find a permanent dean to start in this role in January 2023.” The letter did not provide details of the changes to the job advertisement.
The law school has earned high rankings nationally, and finalists for the dean’s position noted its high ratings in their public presentations this spring. According to UM, it jumped 31 spots in U.S. News and World Report’s list of top law schools this year, ranked No. 7 in National Jurist’s PreLaw Magazine’s 2021 list of top law schools and No. 5 for articling placement, and landed 4th in Best Value Schools’ 20 Most Affordable Law Schools.