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New Dean at UB Law School Optimistic about Future
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James Gardner will serve as interim dean at the University at Buffalo Law School.

Summary: James Gardner has taken over the University at Buffalo Law School as interim dean while the school plans its future.

The Buffalo Law Journal reports that James Gardner has taken over as interim dean of the University at Buffalo Law School as of December 22, 2014. Gardner served as a faculty member for fourteen years, experience that he values greatly as he takes on his new role. Gardner is the Bridget and Thomas Black Professor, as well as a SUNY Distinguished Professor. He was hired at the law school in 2001.


Gardner is also known to be determined and willing to steer the law school through a transitional time until a permanent dean is hired at the law school. UB Law, like most of the country, is evaluating its practices as law school enrollment declines nationwide.

Makau Mutua served as the previous dean at UB Law until he resigned after a seven-year tenure. His final day as dean was December 17. Mutua will remain at the school as a SUNY Distinguished Professor, as well as the Floyd H. and Hilda H. Hurst Faculty Scholar.

Read about Mutua’s controversial resignation here.

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Gardner said of his new role, “The job of an interim dean is to keep things moving and keep things improving so that when a search is undertaken for a permanent dean, the institution is in good shape.”

Gardner’s goals include working with all departments at the school, including admissions, faculty, curriculum, staffing, development, and career services. His focus is on continued success for current students, and facilitating and maintaining strong relationships with alumni. National Jurist magazine recently ranked the school as a “Best Value,” which was the highest rank it could receive. Additionally, the school has released impressive employment rates.

The law school has also opened a legal clinic for veterans.

Gardner explained, “We’re doing everything that we’ve always done by providing a great education to students, and we’re placing them into good jobs. There’s terrific work that’s being done here in the classrooms and the faculty is highly productive. And we have great alumni—they are terrific supporters of the school. So, yes, I think things are going well.”

Gardner focuses on election law and constitutional law. He has written six books and various book chapters, essays, and articles. Gardner has served as the director of the school’s strategic planning committee since October. The committee is evaluating the school and is creating a plan to strengthen it. “It’s a privilege to have the opportunity to serve the institution. The law school means a great deal to me, and to be able to have this chance to give something back is terrific,” Gardner commented.

Earlier this year, the school cut enrollment and faculty.

Gardner also added that he has learned a great deal from faculty and staff at UB Law. Their hard work directly impacts the student body, he explained. Gardner said, “The faculty is extremely accomplished, smart and insightful and I have profited a great deal from being a member of this scholarly community. The students are enthusiastic. It’s been a great pleasure to teach them.”

Gardner won’t be involved in the process of choosing the next dean—that task is left to the provost and president. Provost Charles Zukoski said the search will be global. He noted that the school is working on the best timing for finding a new dean. Zukoski said, “I am grateful to Professor Gardner for his willingness to serve as interim dean during this transitional period.”

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Gardner added that he wants to strengthen the school during some of the most difficult years in national law school history. He said, “I want to hand over an institution that is fiscally healthy, that has a happy and engaged student body, that has a happy and productive faculty, and that has an enthusiastic and participatory group of alumni that’s supporting it.”

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