Erwin Chemerinsky, the founding dean of UCI Law, has just announced he will be stepping down at the end of June to begin a position as dean at UC Berkeley.
Let me offer a few words about Erwin and about UCI Law.
Everyone knew before he became dean that Erwin is a famously wonderful teacher and a master of synthesizing and explaining constitutional law and so much else. What was not known is how talented he would be as an administrator and a leader.
Beginning a law school at the start of the serious downturn in the legal market was tough. No one knew how it would go. But Erwin, surrounding himself with excellent staff, and with great support from the chancellors and provosts of UCI, built UCI Law immediately into a world class institution. The people who came here were risk takers, and that added to the entrepreneurial atmosphere from the beginning.
The stellar faculty he recruited (present company excepted), the diverse and brilliant students he attracted, the hard-working staff who supported him, all worked to build an institution that will not only rank highly on the conventional measures of scholarship, but rank highly for its humanity: its commitment to clinical teaching so that our students are prepared for the real world; its emphasis on social justice, and the need to better the world; and its place as one of friendship and compassion, where people are happy to come to work, to study, and to learn from one another.
Erwin has been a great friend to me, giving me support and wise advice when I needed it. He has been a leader with boundless energy (he made even the busiest and most productive of us feel like slackers). The UCI Law community owes him a great debt for beginning us on the path of a truly great institution.
The future will no doubt hold challenges, but it is hard to imagine anyone who could have started us on a surer or better path.
Thank you Erwin.