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The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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Officials tap UVA professor to lead law school, marking school’s first female head

A law professor and legal scholar will serve as the law school’s next dean and become the first woman in the school’s history to hold the post, according to a release Wednesday.

Dayna Bowen Matthew, a professor of law and public health sciences at the University of Virginia, will step into the role July 1, the release states. Matthew, the director of a UVA center focused on her university’s relationship with marginalized communities in the surrounding area, said GW Law School is “uniquely positioned” to bridge the country’s “great divides,” adding that she looks forward to facilitating civil discourse on legal issues, according to the release.

“Together, with its renowned faculty, dynamic students, influential alumni and dedicated staff, I look to provide a preeminent space for civil discourse, constructive collaborations and innovative thinking that will advance society’s progress toward addressing the most difficult problems through law,” Matthew said in the release.

University President Thomas LeBlanc said in the release that Matthew embodies the qualities of a “visionary, strategic and entrepreneurial” leader and thanked the outgoing law school dean, Blake Morant, for his service to the school.

“I also want to again thank and recognize former Dean Blake Morant for his leadership in elevating GW Law and creating a strong foundation on which to continue to build on GW Law’s strengths in legal education and scholarship,” LeBlanc said in the release.

Morant announced last February that he would step down at the end of the academic year and will return to GW faculty following a sabbatical.

Provost Brian Blake said Matthew’s vision for the law school stood out among an “amazing” pool of finalists for the position and thanked the interim law school dean, Christopher Bracey, for assisting Matthew in her transition to GW.

Bracey, the school’s vice provost for faculty affairs and a professor of law, stepped into the school’s interim dean position in May.

“Dr. Matthew articulated an aspirational vision for GW Law that captured the entire community throughout her visits,” Blake said in the release. “I look forward to supporting her plans to grow and reinvigorate new and existing strengths in the school.”

A committee composed of law school faculty and members of the Board of Trustees led the law school dean search, according to the release. Three “advisory” committees of students, staff and alumni acted as non-voting committee members, the release states.

Ralph Steinhardt, a professor of comparative law and jurisprudence and the chair of the search committee, said committee members welcome Matthew’s “historic and exciting” appointment.

“This is the happy culmination of an intense, sustained and inclusive process that brought together every constituency within the law school community, including alumni, staff, students, trustees, administrators and faculty,” Steinhardt said in the release.

Matthew is currently the director of the Equity Center at UVA, and her research focuses on health care reform, public health law, health disparities, patient protection and antitrust laws and civil rights, according to the release.

Matthew has previously held academic and administrative positions at institutions like the University of Kentucky College of Law and the Colorado School of Public Health, the release states. She has served in policy roles for U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and the Office of Civil Rights at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and serves as a fellow in the Center for Health Policy at the Brookings Institution, according to the release.


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