Campus, News

School of Law dean to step down at end of year

School of Law Dean Maureen O’Rourke will step down from her position after 14 years. PHOTO BY BRIAN SONG/ DFP FILE PHOTO

Boston University School of Law Dean Maureen O’Rourke will step down from her post at the end of the 2017-18 academic year after 14 years of leading the law school.

O’Rourke — who joined the law school’s faculty in 1993 and became dean in 2004 — plans to return to a faculty position in the school, she wrote in an email to the LAW community sent Monday afternoon.

“I have enjoyed working for and with our outstanding faculty, staff, students and alumni,” she wrote.

During her tenure, O’Rourke has been an “exceptional leader” at LAW, University Provost Jean Morrison wrote in a letter to BU faculty and staff Monday.

In the letter, Morrison wrote that O’Rourke “has led advances in the quality, relevance, and accessibility of the School’s academic programs, as well as in its national reputation among top law schools.”

While serving as dean, O’Rourke oversaw a slew of major programs and projects, including the construction and renovation of her school’s Sumner M. Red Stone Building, the letter stated. She was instrumental in enriching the law school’s programs, spearheading collaborations and earning national recognition for her work.

“As a result of her efforts,” Morrison wrote, “80 percent of LAW students participate in a clinic, externship or semester-in-practice, and LAW’s stature continues to climb as an international destination for intellectual property and health law.”

The university will form a Dean Search Advisory Committee for the School of Law — consisting of university administrators and LAW faculty — that will cull the next LAW dean, according to the letter.

Dean of Students Kenneth Elmore credited O’Rourke with positively transforming the law school’s landscape.

“She brought this wonderful student focus to the law school,” Elmore said. “She is a great student advocate, and I think she also sees the big picture of the university very well. She’s one of those people who has moved the law school into a university environment.”

Elmore said as a former law practitioner and a 13-year colleague of O’Rourke, he has enjoyed conversing with her over the years and “picking her brain” about law-related happenings.

Several law students said they will miss the dean and hope her replacement will be as concerned with students’ well-being and success.

Lucas Moench, a third-year law student, said he is sad to hear that O’Rourke is stepping down and hopes her successor will be similarly student-driven.

“[O’Rourke] seems to really care about the students and the institution,” Moench said. “Understanding the importance of taking the standards for student academic requirements and employment outcomes I think are important factors.”

Sydney Burns, a second-year law student, said she thinks O’Rourke’s tenure has improved the law school community and helped students thrive.

“[O’Rourke] goes out of her way to get to know students [and] to make sure that people feel included, and that issues in the wider world as a whole are brought to our campus and made a central part of learning,” Burns said. “She has been a really essential part of the law school.”

Andie Vela, a third-year law student, said since O’Rourke will be rejoining the LAW faculty, she looks forward to the possibility of taking classes with her.

“I think it’ll be great to still have her around,” Vela said. “I’m excited, and hopefully more people will get to have classes with her.”

Vela added that she hopes O’Rourke’s successor will bring a similar passion for the law and research.

Sabrina Schnur, Jordan Kimmel, Mugdha Gurram and Shaun Robinson contributed to the reporting of this article.

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