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New UW Law dean faces challenges of economics, autonomy

Margaret Raymond

Margaret Raymond

An accounting background might come in handy for the recently named next dean of the University of Wisconsin Law School.

Gov. Scott Walker, with support from UW-Madison Chancellor Biddy Martin, has proposed granting the university greater autonomy, including control over its money. The measure now is part of the state budget debate and, if passed, could reshape the way the campus and its law school operate.

The measure, known as the New Badger Partnership, would grant UW-Madison public authority status. Currently, all money UW-Madison receives, regardless of the source, is considered state money to be deposited in the state treasury. But public authority status would allow nonstate money — tuition, fees, program revenue, gifts, grants and donations — to no longer be considered state money and no longer be subject to seizure.

The partnership could play a large role in determining the direction taken by Margaret Raymond, a longtime law professor at the University of Iowa College of Law who will take over this fall as UW Law’s new dean.

Raymond was announced as the next dean Friday. She has been a professor at Iowa since 1995.

The New Badger Partnership came up during interviews and discussions with the UW before her appointment, Raymond said, but it wasn’t a primary focus.

For someone with no previous experience as a dean, Raymond said, there will be a lot to learn.

“It’s a big job,” she said, “but I think I’m ready.”

Outgoing Dean Ken Davis is expected to step down this summer, said Eden Inoway-Ronnie, chief of staff for Paul DeLuca Jr., UW provost . Raymond said she has a tentative start date of July 1.

Davis has been great about letting Raymond pick his brain, she said, which will help with the transition.

Davis has done a great job preparing the law school and the new dean for a “brave new world,” said Milwaukee attorney Hannah Dugan, a 1987 graduate of the UW Law School. Whether the UW stays part of the system or branches out on its own, she said, Davis has established strong footing for the law school.

“The new dean will have challenges in terms of if the partnership goes into place, how will the law school be part of making that transition seamless,” Dugan said, “and making sure the law school maintains its excellence and preeminence.”

Nicholas Allard, a Washington, D.C., lawyer who was Raymond’s final competitor for the dean position, said money was a key concern for the UW Law School, especially as state and federal resources dry up.

Wisconsin’s proposed 2011-13 budget includes a $125 million cut in aid to UW-Madison. That represents a 13 percent reduction in money the campus gets from the state.

“There’s a real need out there for additional money,” Allard said. “There’s always that gap between the school’s resources and the financial needs of the school. Every institution faces an increased need for more funding. These days there’s increased competition for fewer dollars. It’s a very rough environment for that.”

UW Law School student Michelle Yun, one of two student members of the 16-member search committee for the new dean, said money was at the heart of most issues tied to the new law dean’s role.

Money fixes a lot of things,” she said. “If we want to develop our labor and employment options, retain the professors we love, build a better infrastructure for alumni relations, all of these things take money.”

Madison City Attorney Michael May, a 1979 graduate of the UW Law School, said it would be important for the next dean to push even harder than Davis did for more money.

“I think Dean Davis did a wonderful job of maintaining the academic quality in a time of diminishing resources,” he said. “But to keep that up, there is going to have to be a bigger push on fundraising for the law school.”

Raymond said she had no previous experience in fundraising, which she recognized was an important part of a dean’s job.

“I have a lot to learn,” she said.

Raymond’s peer Todd Pettys, associate dean for faculty at the University of Iowa College of Law, said Raymond was very focused on accomplishing whatever objectives she sets.

“I would expect her to be quite single-mindedly focused on those goals (established by the university),” said Pettys, who has worked with Raymond since 1999. “She is not one to get distracted by nonsense or be patient with a lot of nonsense.”

If UW-Madison succeeds in establishing itself as a more financially independent institution, the new law dean could play a key role in shaping the monetary goals of the changing university, Dugan said.

“It’s an exciting time and challenging time,” she said. “(The new dean) doesn’t know what the character will be with respect to the system. It’s an unknown future for the law school.”

Editor’s note: The version of this story that appears in today’s print issue went to press before the UW announced it had selected Raymond as dean. The version above has been updated to reflect Raymond’s appointment, which was announced Friday.

Caley Clinton can be reached at caley.clinton@wislawjournal.com.

More on the UW Law Dean search

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