By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – Three finalists have been identified for law dean at the University of Mississippi to replace Samuel M. Davis when he steps down June 30 to return to teaching.
Oxford lawyer Tom Freeland recently reported on nmisscommentor.com that an e-mail was sent to members of the law school earlier this month identifying Christopher M. Pietruszkiewicz, I. Richard Gershon and Frederick Slabach as candidates.
Dr. Alice Clark, vice chancellor for research and sponsored programs at Ole Miss and the chair of the law dean search committee, declined to comment on the candidates or confirm their identities.
“During the process of evaluating applicants for the position, it is not appropriate for me to make public comments about candidates,” she said. “We are pleased with the progress of the search and are optimistic that we will identify an outstanding dean for the School of Law.”
Pietruszkiewicz is vice chancellor for business and financial affairs at Louisiana State University. A specialist in tax law, he earned law degrees from Loyola University in New Orleans and Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., and earned his undergraduate degree at the University of Scranton. He has been an attorney for both the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Education.
Gershon is professor of law at the Charleston School of Law in Charleston, S.C., and was the school’s founding dean. He earned law degrees from the Universities of Florida and Tennessee and a bachelor’s degree at the University of Georgia. He also is a specialist in tax law and the author of “The Students’ Guide to the IRS Code.”
Slabach, who grew up in Pike County, is executive secretary of the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation in Washington, D.C., and professor of law at Texas Wesleyan University in Fort Worth. As TWU dean from 2003 to 2006, he oversaw a multimillion-dollar fundraising campaign and the expansion of its law school facility.
Slabach graduated from Mississippi College and later was associate dean of its law school. He earned his law degree at Ole Miss, another at Columbia University and was a law clerk for U.S. District Judge William Keady. He also served on the staffs of Gov. Bill Allain and Sen. John Stennis and later was executive director of the Mississippi Democratic Party. Formerly Congressional liaison for USDA and counsel for its secretary, his legal scholarship is focused on constitutional law and campaign finance reform.
Slabach was in Oxford last week to visit with Law School officials and others. The other candidates are expected this week and in early May.
Given that the successful candidate will be their next boss, many faculty members are understandably reticent to comment on the dean search. However, second-year law student Thomas Leitner of Charlotte, N.C., surmised Slabach’s Mississippi connections were an advantage.
“He has ties here, so he wants the best for Ole Miss,” Leitner said. “I just think they need to pick the best candidate, whoever it is.”
Third-year student Patrick Guild of Gulfport was surprised there was no in-house candidate for the job – and that most of the law students interviewing the candidates are those about to graduate.
“It seems they would want to have more (first- and second-year) students, since they’re the ones who’ll have to live with the new dean,” he said.
Contact Errol Castens at (662) 281-1069 or firstname.lastname@example.org.