USD Announces Finalists for Law School Dean

Seal o the University of South Dakota The University of South Dakota announced three finalists for the dean position of the USD School of Law.

VERMILLION, S.D. – The University of South Dakota announced three finalists for the dean position of the USD School of Law following a 10-month national search.

The search for the law school’s new dean began in March 2018, when Thomas Geu announced he would step down after five years as dean to return to a faculty position. Dr. Mary Nettleman, vice president for health affairs and dean of the USD Sanford School of Medicine, chaired the search committee.

Finalists include:

  • Christopher W. Behan, professor at Southern Illinois University School of Law. Behan also served as acting dean from September 2017-July 2018 and associate dean for academic affairs from July 2014-October 2017.
  • Neil Fulton, former chief of staff for South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds. Since 2010, Fulton has served in the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals as federal public defender for North Dakota and South Dakota.
  • Elena B. Langan, dean of Concordia University School of Law. Prior to serving as dean, Langan served as associate dean for academic affairs as well as professor of law at Nova Southeastern University’s Shepard Broad College of Law in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Interim Provost Kurt Hackemer said the USD School of Law is well-positioned to be successful as one of the best value law schools in the country. For the second year in a row, the USD School of Law ranked in the top 10 law schools in the country for placement in state and local clerkships, and ranked sixth nationally in improved employment outcomes. The law school also saw a 22 percent increase in class size and a 30 percent increase in bar passage rate in 2018.

“We are excited to continue the positive momentum of the USD School of Law under new leadership,” Hackemer said. “We are confident our next dean will help elevate the USD School of Law as a national leader that prepares students for a lifelong career in law.”

For full biographies of each finalist, please visit usd.edu/lawfinalists.

Download a high-resolution photo of Behan

Download a high-resolution photo of Fulton

Download a high-resolution photo of Langan

ABOUT THE SCHOOL OF LAW

USD’s School of Law prepares students for leadership in the administration of justice in South Dakota, including in rural areas where the demand is great, and for private practice, public service, business and other law-related endeavors anywhere. Its joint degree program allows students to also earn one of nine master’s degrees within the traditional three-year law curriculum, which includes course tracks in business, commercial, constitutional, criminal, employment, environmental, Indian, real estate and tax law as well as civil litigation and estate planning.

ABOUT USD

Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 198 undergraduate and 79 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of more than 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 16:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 18 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.

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