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Dean of troubled Indiana law school set to resign

March 7, 2018

Valparaiso University School of Law Dean Andrea Lyon said she plans to resign from the troubled school June 1, but remain on the faculty as a research professor at the institution, which last year acknowledged its future operations are uncertain.

Lyon, who took over as dean in July 2014, sent a letter to alumni, faculty and students last week, saying she was stepping down from her leadership role. She will continue her scholarly work in the law.

“It has been such an honor to lead the Valparaiso Law School and to work with such talented students, faculty, and staff,” Lyon wrote. “I am grateful to each of you for your commitment to the Law School and for your many contributions.

Lyon on Wednesday told the Indiana Lawyer an interim dean would be named.

In November, Valparaiso University announced that “severe financial challenges” were forcing the law school to suspend admissions in the fall of 2018. It said it was looking for an alternative to continue operations, including merging with another law school or moving to another geographic location.

Since that time, neither the law school nor the university have provided any updates.

The law school admitted just 28 first-year students in fall 2017.

Lyon could not offer much comment Wednesday because of the law school’s uncertain future, but she said her time as dean has been “challenging, exhilarating, frustrating and wonderful.”

As she noted in her letter, Valparaiso's law school has overhauled its curriculum, giving first-year students “valuable experiential learning opportunities.” Also, it has received national recognition, including an A+ rating and No. 7 ranking for practical training by the National Jurist magazine, as well as being named one of the top 20 most innovative law schools by Prelaw magazine.

The law school was publicly censured by the American Bar Association in 2016 for admitting students who appeared unlikely to complete their legal studies or pass the bar exam. However, the sanction was lifted in November 2017.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to have served as dean of the Law School,” Lyon wrote. “Thank you for your dedication to Valparaiso University, your commitment to the Law School, and for your many contributions to the Law School’s proud legacy of more than 130 years.”

Founded in 1879, the law school has an enrollment of 238 full-time, part-time and postgraduate students.

Indiana's only other law schools are the Robert H. McKinney School of Law at Indiana University in Indianapolis, the Maurer School of Law at Indiana University in Bloomington and the University of Notre Dame Law School.

 

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