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UNM School of Law Co-Deans Deserve Combat Pay
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University of New Mexico School of Law

Summary: UNM School of Law has been going through deans due to unwilling faculty and a general lack of trust, making those in the position dodge bullets in an attempt to make everyone happy.

The University of New Mexico School of Law has appointed two co-deans. The school has been having difficulty keeping and selecting leaders for the school. The new co-deans, Alfred Mathewson and Sergio Pareja were both business law professors at the school. The school’s provost Chaouki Abdallah joked that the position “deserves combat pay” for the work they will have to do to appease faculty, students and alumni.


UNM’s School of Law is the third in the nation to attempt a co-deanship and the change has not been easy for the school or surrounding legal community. Professor Barbara Bergman was a contender for the deanship. She had been a faculty member for a long time and was a student favorite but when the new co-deans were announced, she resigned within the week. Those that wanted to see her in the position were angry and emails, phone calls, and letters of critique came pouring into the school. Hispanic and black lawyer organizations have been supportive of the decision which put some diversity into the leadership of the school.

In the past six years, the law school has had three deans. A recent dean, Kevin Washburn, was with the school for three years before leaving to work for the Obama administration. Bergman was made the interim dean for a year but passed over for David Herring. Her funding and personnel decisions left some unhappy at the school.

Herring was the dean for two years. He came from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law where he had served as dean for seven years. Herring was unable to get the faculty to work with him over his demand for them to publish more. The faculty had then split into “factions”, supporting the leading candidates. With the school is such a delicate state, they knew they needed more than just one person to keep it together.

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Mathewson and Pareja were chosen after much research and community feedback. They both accepted the position without even a concern for their salary. The school’s decision has been a good one with an improved ranking, student satisfaction, and job placements for graduates.







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