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Durham Judge Named Interim Dean of NCCU Law
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O'Neal

Summary: North Carolina Central University School of Law has found an interim leader until a more permanent dean can be found.

North Carolina Central University School of Law announced longtime judge and alumna Elaine O’Neal will take over as interim dean, effective July 16. During a time when the law school has been struggling with low bar-passage rates and admission standards, they are looking for expertise and knowledge to guide them through.

  
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According to the Herald Sun, O’Neal will be overseeing the school’s daily activities to help “ensure that the highest legal educational standards are upheld while the university undertakes a nationwide search for a permanent new dean.”

O’Neal became a North Carolina District Court Judge in 1994. In 2011, she was elected to the Superior Court bench for the 14th District. As the state constitution does not allow an elected official to also hold an appointed office, O’Neal will be stepping down from the bench.

She earned her undergraduate from NCCU in mathematics and her law degree from the school as well. She formerly served as a member of the NCCU School of Law Board of Visitors. She has also served as a board member or a co-founder to a number of other organizations and institutions, including Women’s Recovery House, Families First, and Restoration Institute for Leaders. O’Neal is a former commissioner for the Commission on Accreditation of Law Enforcement Agencies. She is currently on the board of directors for Systems of Care and a member of the Gang Assessment Oversight Committee.

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The university has vowed to increase their admission standards by keeping a minimum LSAT score requirement for future applicants. The school knows this will affect their incoming class with Chancellor Johnson Akinleye stating it will class will likely shrink by a third. Phyliss Craig-Taylor is stepping down as dean to rejoin the faculty. She had been dean since 2012.

The school’s latest bar exam results did not look good. The graduates who took the bar exam for the first time passed at a 54 percent passage rate. In 2016, the rate was 59 percent, so in one year, it dropped by only 5 points. However, the law school’s attrition rate grew to 37.7 percent of their 2016-2017 first-year students dropping out. The law school will not reject any admission from those with an LSAT score under 142 in an attempt to only enroll students academically prepared for law school.



Akinleye noted that the school’s “accreditation is not threatened at this point.” The ABA has not even placed the school on probation yet.

Do you think a judge will be able to provide unique insight to a law school as a dean? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

To learn more about other law schools looking for a permanent dean, read these articles:

Photo: nccu.edu



 

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