Levin College of Law Dean Robert Jerry
Joseph Glover, Provost and Senior Vice President
University of Florida Levin College of Law Dean Robert H. Jerry, II has announced his intention to step down as dean, effective June 30, 2014.
Dean Jerry became the Levin College of Law’s 15th dean in 2003, and will have led the college for 11 years, which will tie him for service as the second-longest serving law dean since the school was founded in 1909 and one of the longest-serving law deans nationwide. Under his thoughtful and inspired leadership, the college has continued to thrive despite tough economic conditions and today’s highly challenging environment for legal education. Dean Jerry assembled an administrative team that during this ten-year period transformed many of the college’s functions and programs, including admissions, placement, and student services.
In 2009, the College commenced a three-year program that reduced the size of the student body by twenty-five percent, a transformative change that improved student-faculty ratios, access to the curriculum, and student services and which presaged reductions that occurred in 90% of the nation’s law schools in 2011 and 2012. A detail-oriented administrator and a favorite with the college’s 22,000-plus alumni, he helped build its private endowment into one of the largest among public law schools in the country. Annual giving increased during his deanship, exceeded $830,000 in each of the last three years, and set a new record in 2012-13.
During his tenure, the school’s major reconstruction project that constructed or renovated all of the classrooms and the library was started and completed, and a free-standing legal advocacy center with a new courtroom and advocacy education suite was planned, designed, funded, and constructed. Five permanent lecture series were created during his tenure, and these and other programs have brought literally hundreds of top legal leaders to campus, including eight visits from U.S. Supreme Court justices in the past eight years.
Under his tenure, faculty, with input from UF Law alumni, re-crafted the college’s mission statement to place a new emphasis on core competencies essential to the practice of law, and kicked off an ongoing effort to revise the curriculum to better prepare graduates for a rapidly shifting legal environment.
Dean Jerry has been a tireless advocate for students, and he has placed great emphasis on the value of and support for diversity in the law school community. To help students in a difficult employment market, he created a post-graduate fellowship program, supported expansion of the pre-graduate summer externship program, and initiated a new program to aid students seeking judicial clerkships, which last year enabled UF Law to rank 26th in the nation in the number of graduates obtaining federal judicial clerkships. He has supported leadership development activities, and has stressed faculty public service and the example to be set for students; upon becoming dean, he initiated Community Service Day at the law school as part of the first-year student orientation program.
He has chaired or served on scores of committees within the university and with legal education entities nationwide, and has made innumerable valuable contributions to this institution, to higher education, and to the legal profession. His publications over the last decade include two new editions of his insurance law treatise, several book chapters, and eight published law review articles, mostly on insurance law topics but also on academic leadership. He also taught an insurance law course once each year.
Dean Jerry earned his J.D. from the University of Michigan and his B.S. from Indiana State University. Before coming to Florida, he was the Floyd R. Gibson Missouri Endowed Professor of Law (1998-2003) and recipient of the Distinguished Faculty Achievement Award (2001), University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law. His previous academic experience was at the University of Memphis, Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law, Herbert Herff Chair of Excellence in Law (1994-98); and University of Kansas School of Law, Dean (1989-94), Professor (1985-94), Associate Professor (1981-85), where he received the Chancellor’s Award for University Service. He was in private practice with Barnes Hickam Pantzer & Boyd, Indianapolis, Ind. (1978-81), and was a law clerk with U.S. Circuit Judge George E. MacKinnon for U.S. Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit (1977-78).
I know you will join me in wishing him well. We have all greatly enjoyed our relationship with Dean Jerry, and look forward to continuing to work with him during the next year and beyond.