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The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

Law school dean becomes third QU dean in nine months to announce intention to step down

Jennifer Brown, dean of the Quinnipiac University School of Law, will return to the classroom as a tenured law professor in the spring of 2025 after stepping down as dean in June 2024.

Jennifer Brown, dean of the Quinnipiac University School of Law, is slated to step down next June, Provost Debra Liebowitz announced in a university-wide email Wednesday morning.

Liebowitz said that Brown, for whom the 2023-24 academic year will mark not only her last year as dean but also her tenth, decided to step down “to focus more on teaching and research.”

“Jennifer has led the law school through a decade of significant change,” Liebowitz wrote, noting that Brown oversaw the law school’s 2014 move from Hamden to North Haven and the hiring of approximately 30% of its full-time faculty. “I want to thank Jennifer for her innovative and passionate leadership and ingraining her mantra ‘to educate the whole lawyer to understand and serve the whole client’ into the law school’s mission.”

Although Brown is stepping down as the law school’s dean, Liebowitz said the Quinnipiac veteran intends to return to the classroom. After taking a sabbatical in the fall of 2024, the provost said Brown, who became a faculty member in 1994, expects to rejoin the school’s faculty as a tenured law professor in the spring of 2025.

“I stepped into administrative leadership because I love the law school,” Brown said Wednesday in an interview with the Chronicle. “At the same time, I think when I became dean, I always sort of expected I would return to the faculty.”

The University of Illinois College of Law graduate spent 19 years as a Quinnipiac law professor and nearly 15 years as the director of the school’s Center on Dispute Resolution before becoming the law school’s top administrator in 2013.

The law school, which introduced new concentrations in international law, workplace law, and cybersecurity and information privacy law under Brown’s leadership, saw a monumental increase in student diversity during her tenure. 

This year, Liebowitz said, more than a quarter of Quinnipiac’s first-year law students identify as underrepresented in law — a 10% increase from 2013. Likewise, 30% of the law school’s 111 first-year students are first-generation college graduates.

Brown said that she never intended to serve as dean for a decade, noting that long-serving college deans can get “stuck in their ways.”

“I didn’t want to be like that,” Brown said. “When I first started back in 2013, honestly, I thought, like, ‘I’ve got seven years as a dean, and then it’s time to let somebody else have a turn.’”

But, in June 2019, President Judy Olian appointed Brown the university’s interim executive vice president and provost. And then, during her tenure as provost, the pandemic happened.

And Liebowitz — the current provost who, fittingly, succeeded Brown in 2020 — said that Brown’s role during the pandemic put her “at the center of decision-making with serious consequences for safety, student success and the university’s financial sustainability.”

“It’s so hard to know, like, when is the right time to go?” Brown said. “There were just a number of things that intervened to make me think, ‘Well, I guess I should stay here.’”

The provost’s Aug. 30 email announcing Brown’s impending departure, which came just three days into the fall 2023 semester, is the third such email Liebowitz has sent in the last nine months. 

In a similarly worded November 2022 email, the provost revealed that Lisa O’Connor, then-dean of the School of Nursing, would step down at the end of the 2022-23 academic year. Larry Slater, a former associate dean and clinical professor at the University of Memphis’ nursing college, succeeded O’Connor as the dean of Quinnipiac’s nursing school in June. 

Within three weeks of Slater’s appointment, an unexpected resignation left a vacancy in a different dean’s office — this time in the School of Communications. Liebowitz announced May 17 that Chris Roush, who had served as the communications dean since 2019, would step down at the end of the following month. 

Unlike Brown and O’Connor, both of whom announced their departures months before the end of the academic year,Roush’s resignation left the School of Communications without a dean six weeks prior to the start of the 2023-24 school year. 

Liebowitz said that Holly Raider, dean of the School of Business, will lead the national search for Brown’s successor. The provost also said that the university had contracted human resource consulting firm Korn Ferry to help Raider conduct the search.

Alex Martinakova contributed to this report.

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