New Law School Dean: Upholding Traditions, Building on Strengths
SEPTEMBER 10, 2008—On Sept. 5, David Wippman was installed as the University of Minnesota Law School's 10th dean in a ceremony at the McNamara Center. "This is a law school that has maintained over decades an outstanding and long-standing commitment to excellence and a tradition of educating people who really make a difference in our state, our nation, and our world," University President Robert Bruininks told the audience of more than 300 guests. "I have no doubt that the appointment of a leader of Dean Wippman's caliber and intellect will continue the Law School's proud tradition."
E. Thomas Sullivan, the Law School's 8th dean and current Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs, reflected on the "remarkable progress" of the Law School since its inception in 1888, its rich history, and the legacy of each of Dean Wippman's predecessors. "We're delighted," Sullivan told Wippman, a Minneapolis native, "to have a hometown boy who has 'done good' come home to do well here."
Keynote speaker Michael Hurley ('80), a former CIA officer, special advisor to the Nuclear Threat Initiative, and consultant to the U.S. State Department, first met Wippman at football practice when both were 12-year-olds. They lost contact after high school. Then in 1998, on his first day on the National Security Council, Hurley looked across the conference table at a White House meeting to see Wippman, then director in the NSC's Office of Multilateral and Humanitarian Affairs. "We are the sum of our experiences and actions," Hurley said. "David Wippman's unique life experiences and achievements will guide him as he and his colleagues chart the course of the Law School."
Wippman offered a brief history, including lawyer jokes, of attitudes toward the law, lawyers, their education, and access to it. In reality, "Properly trained lawyers are problem solvers," he said. Some of the country's greatest legal scholars are on the Law School faculty, he continued. "They have a particularly distinguished record in using law as a means to help solve pressing social problems. This is a strength on which I intend to build." Going forward, Wippman told the audience of administrators, faculty, deans, judges, students, and alumni, "There are few problems we cannot solve if we work together."