Nora V. Demleitner Named Dean of Washington and Lee School of Law

Lexington, VA Wednesday, December 21, 2011


Nora V. Demleitner
(Photo by Tony Lopez)
Nora V. Demleitner will be the new dean of Washington and Lee University's School of Law. She becomes the first woman to hold that position and is the 17th dean in the 145-year history of W&L's law school. She will also hold the Roy L. Steinheimer Jr. Professorship in Law.

A highly respected scholar on issues of criminal, comparative and immigration law, Demleitner is currently dean and professor of law at Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University.

Washington and Lee President Kenneth P. Ruscio announced Demleitner's appointment, which will be effective July 1, 2012, and culminates a national search for the successor to Rodney Smolla, who left in 2010 to become president of Furman University. Mark Grunewald, James P. Morefield Professor of Law, has served as interim dean.

"Dean Demleitner emerged from what we believe was an extraordinarily strong pool of candidates. Everyone who met with her was impressed with her energy and enthusiasm and vision," said Ruscio. "In addition, she has a splendid reputation throughout the legal community for her scholarship and accomplishments.

"I want to thank the members of the search committee for their excellent work throughout this process and am also very appreciative of Mark Grunewald's service as interim dean."

A native of Germany, Demleitner received her law degree from Yale after earning a bachelor's degree from Bates College. She also earned a master's degree with distinction in international and comparative law from the Georgetown University Law Center. Following law school, she clerked for the Honorable Samuel A. Alito Jr., then a member of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit and now a justice on the United States Supreme Court.

When she was named dean at Hofstra in 2008, Justice Alito told the New York Times: "She had a wonderful academic record and came highly recommended to me by people at Yale Law School. I was immediately impressed by her poise and intelligence.''

Under Demleitner's leadership, the Hofstra law school has made impressive strides in a number of areas, including the creation of important partnerships both locally and internationally. The school has developed a closer relationship with the Nassau County (N.Y.) Bar Association to enhance collaboration between the law school and the legal profession and to increase the opportunity for law students to work directly with the bar association.  In addition, she has led efforts to build new partnerships with institutions in Asia and Europe, to strengthen summer offerings by partnering with elite institutions in Europe and to establish innovative spring break programs in Ecuador and Cuba. Hofstra has been cited as one of the nation's most diverse law schools by U.S. News & World-Report.

As Washington and Lee's law dean, Demleitner will be working with a talented faculty with proven commitments to scholarship and teaching and an excellent student body whose members have chosen to study at a small law school with an innovative curriculum.

"I am deeply honored to have been chosen as Washington and Lee's next law dean.  Its faculty and student body impressed me immensely during my visit," said Demleitner.  "W&L's innovative curriculum challenges traditional legal education by merging high-caliber scholarship with the best legal practice has to offer.  I could not be more excited about serving an institution that is on the forefront of the major changes legal education will have to undergo in the next few years."

Demleitner's first academic position came in 1994 when she joined the faculty at St. Mary's University School of Law in San Antonio, where she also served as the director of LL.M. programs. She joined Hofstra in 2001 as a faculty member.  After serving as academic dean in 2006 and interim dean in 2007, she became that law school's first female dean in January 2008.

She has special expertise in sentencing and collateral sentencing consequences. She is the lead author of Sentencing Law and Policy, a major casebook on sentencing law. She also is an editor of the Federal Sentencing Reporter, and serves on the executive editorial board of the American Journal of Comparative Law.

She has extensive international experience, having lectured and served as visiting professor at the University of Freiburg, Germany, and the Sant' Anna Institute of Advanced Research in Pisa, Italy.  She has been a research fellow at the Max-Planck-Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law in Germany.  She has also been a visiting professor at the University of Michigan Law School and St. Thomas University School of Law in Miami.

Demleitner is an elected member of the American Law Institute and a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation.

"The law school community is looking forward with pleasure and excitement to Nora's deanship," said Joan M. Shaughnessy, W&L professor of law who chaired the search committee. "Her experience and her dedication impressed the search committee when we met her earlier this fall, and her positive energy filled Lewis Hall when she came to campus.  I am confident that the law school will become even stronger during her tenure."

In addition to Shaughnessy, members of the search committee were law professors Johanna Bond, Christopher Bruner, Mark Drumbl, David Millon and Mary Natkin; John Keyser, associate dean of the School of Law; Sidney Evans, the University's vice president for student affairs; Stacy Gould Van Goor of San Diego, a 1995 graduate of the School of Law and immediate past president of the law council; and two members of the University's board of trustees, Robert Grey of Richmond, a 1976 law graduate, and Jack Vardaman of Washington, D.C., a 1962 college graduate.

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