“I don’t teach any now. Maybe another year, as this is my first as dean, but I did
teach while I was Interim Dean.
As it turns out, my greatest fear about teaching has proved not to be true. I thought
that there would be no way to have relationships with students, except through the
classroom. It was just my prejudice for the classroom as the creator of teacher-student
relationships. But, at least at Wake Forest Law School, students want to know their Dean.
So I do have relationships with students, even though I haven’t taught them. That might be
unique to Wake Forest Law School, but that was my greatest fear about not teaching.
What I miss the most are those days that you introduce a concept, the students have
read about it, and you pursue it more in the classroom. Students start to appreciate the
significance of it, how far reaching the principle is, and what role that principle plays in
shaping our democracy as it is, or could that principle have unintended good consequences
and unintended bad consequences. Students see a principle and understand it, but when
they begin to appreciate its implications and question it, questions whether it’s good or not,
whether it’s a principle that works—that’s such a mountain top experience for a teacher.
What has been the highlight of your first year as Dean?
“It was welcoming the first group of students I had welcomed as Dean, during
orientation. One of my colleagues stood up to speak and took a moment to say, ‘You know
she’s the first women Dean of this law school.’ The first year class just irrupted in cheers
and applause, and not just the women. That was a really a special moment. I haven’t
thought a lot of about that, though of course I do think about it, being the first woman Dean.
When President Hatch announced it, I got a lot of emails that remarked on it—but that
moment has to stand out.”
“I have loved having more veterans and members of the armed forces at law school,
which do now, have more than ever. We commemorate Veteran’s Day and it makes a very
big impact among the student body. [Story about promotion ceremony]
Can you see any differences between the current student body and the student body during
your time at Wake Forest?
“It’s very different in some ways. For one, it’s smaller. The Wake Forest Law made
intentional changes to become smaller. In fact, I’m trying to shrink it even more. It is
smaller and more diverse now, across many lines; gender, race, ethnicity, and
geographically. During my time, the school was moving away from being a school that
trains North Carolina lawyers. It was in transition, but we’ve completely made that
transition now. We’re routinely at 75% out of state students, and sometimes higher than
that. We don’t focus on North Carolina law, and I don’t think any great law school focuses
on the law of a state. All law is international, and not state-specific. But we do find that
about 50% of graduates stay here because they fall in love with North Carolina, while the
other 50% go everywhere.”
What do you think makes Wake Forest unique among other law schools?