By: Eileen Comerford- Staff Writer
Andrew Strauss has recently been selected as the new University of Dayton School of Law Dean. Not only is Dean Strauss an experienced and qualified international law expert, he already has the valuable sense of community intrinsic to UD.
“From the moment I set foot on campus I felt that UD was a great fit for me,” Strauss said in an exclusive interview with Flyer News. Describing the sense of community as “palpable,” Strauss was immediately impressed and excited to join in toshare his interests and values with those of UD and its Marianist heritage.
Strauss is coming to UD from Widener University School of Law in Wilmington, Delaware, where he served as professor of law and associate dean for faculty research and strategic initiatives. After the current dean of the school of law, Paul McGreal steps down, Strauss will begin his term on July 1.
In the fall of 2008, at Widener, he became the first to be awarded the title of Distinguished Professor of Law, along with two other recipients. He led initiatives for the expansion of international and graduate programs and helped develop other sources of alternative revenue for Widener’s School of Law.
Strauss was a leader in reforming Widener law school’s pedagogy. As associate dean, he implemented multiple assessments and applied learning labs to courses, as well as promoted active learning technologies in the classroom.
The University of Dayton appealed to Strauss especially because of UD’s Marianist tradition, with which he said he agrees on many levels. The emphasis the Marianists place on inclusivity and the education of the whole person resonates very much with him, Stauss said.
As someone who believes in the ability to change and adapt, an imperative fundamental to Marianist ideals, Strauss said this adaptability is “reflected in everything from the university’s entrepreneurial culture to the really innovative scholarship that the faculty is producing.”
An example of how the law school is maintaining adaptability, Strauss said, is in its focus on law and technology.
“This is about understanding the legal implications of the profound technological revolution, particularly in information technology, that we are all experiencing,” Strauss said.
In response to being asked what the law school can look forward to under his leadership, Strauss started out by outlining what a great law school should have. According to Strauss, the kind of law school will give students fundamental knowledge and skills necessary to practice law, such as basic analytic skills and clear oral and written communication abilities.
This knowledge also includes “basic practice skills such as the ability to draft legal documents and to relate well to clients,” Strauss said.
“I want our students to experience for themselves, in their own unique ways, the excitement of the study and pursuit of law,” Strauss said. “One of the things I would like to do as dean is to help students find their own career visions, to help give them a sense of what is possible for themselves.”
At UD, Strauss plans to take seriously the school of law’s role as an incubator of thought and research. He talked of his public mission as dean to guide the school of law in taking “abstract social theories of how society should be and translating them into concrete institutional reality, giving students a broad and holistic education.”
Along with his Marianist values, Strauss was also drawn to UD’s global focus, especially involving the work being done in programs such as the Hanley Sustainability Institute and the Human Rights Center. Having spent his career as a legal academic teaching and studying international law and having done work on international law, Strauss is a global addition to UD.
Strauss is an universal figure, specializing in international economic law, international transactions, public international law, international organizations, global warming litigation and international jurisdiction.
The most important piece of advice Strauss gave law students today was for them to discover and be true to their own inner vision of their place in the legal system.
“This means not just passively following the path of least resistance toward a legal career that they do not feel ownership in,” Strauss said. He acknowledged that the discovery of such an inner vision is a lot easier said than done. Asking and answering the question “Who am I?” is generally a difficult part of human development, but Strauss encouraged students to find the techniques for such discovery.
“The beginning of finding answers is to take the uncomfortable step of admitting confusion and daring to confront the question,” Strauss said. “It’s a journey, but in my experience, law students who wholeheartedly embark upon this journey reap great rewards, and a fulfilling career is one of them.”