Dean Wippman to Step Down Effective July 1, Provost to Launch a National Search

December 11, 2015

David Wippman, the 10th dean of the University of Minnesota Law School, announced today that he will be stepping down at the end of the current academic year to accept a position as president of Hamilton College in Clinton, New York. Wippman, who grew up in Minnesota and was previously a professor and associate dean at Cornell Law School and vice provost for international relations at Cornell University, has been the Law School’s dean since July 1, 2008.

In a message to alumni and friends, he said:

Eight years ago, almost to the day, I was offered and accepted the position of dean of the University of Minnesota Law School. Tom Sullivan, then the provost, persuaded me that it was, in his words, “time to come home.”

I’m glad I did. Serving as dean has given me the chance to work with extraordinary faculty, students, staff, and alumni, and I am very grateful for that opportunity. We have accomplished a great deal together, including a revamped curriculum, new programs, centers, and institutes, record fundraising, and new heights in faculty and student accomplishment. I believe the Law School is well-positioned for the future, especially with the successful conclusion of our GENERATIONS fundraising campaign. It is with that confidence that I have turned toward a new opportunity to lead: I am writing to let you know that effective July 1, I will become the 20th president of Hamilton College in Clinton, New York. Hamilton is one of the country’s top liberal arts colleges, and the position represents an exciting opportunity for me, both personally and professionally.

I will leave Minnesota at the end of the current academic year, and will of course continue to devote myself fully to the work of the Law School over the next six months. I have consulted with Provost Hanson about the process for choosing a new dean; she will shortly announce details of the search process.

I am deeply grateful for all the support you have shown me and the Law School over the past eight years, and I know you will provide the same generous support to my successor. Thank you for your ongoing commitment to the excellence of law at Minnesota.

Following the announcement, Karen Hanson, the University’s senior vice president for academic affairs and provost, issued this statement to Law School faculty and staff:

I write to follow up on the memo Dean David Wippman sent earlier today informing Law School colleagues of his decision to step down from the deanship at the end of June. Please join me in extending deepest appreciation to David for his outstanding service as dean and in wishing him well as he leaves Minnesota to assume the presidency of Hamilton College.

Dean Wippman has served both the Law School and the broader University with great distinction. As dean, he has overseen the successful launch of new programs, championed curricular innovations, recruited high-profile faculty, and enhanced diversity initiatives and funding for student scholarships—accomplishments that helped to sustain the school’s ranking as a top-20 law school. He has shepherded the development of new master’s degrees as well as the school’s unique experiential learning course that is now required of all first-year students. He has overseen the creation of new capstone courses, specialty concentrations, and expanded public interest courses and opportunities.

Dean Wippman also managed the successful GENERATIONS fundraising campaign, which raised more than $70 million for scholarships, community-engaged student learning, and curricular enhancements. To give students the opportunity to explore pressing scholarly and community issues, he secured significant donor support that helped establish several new centers and institutes, including the Center for New Americans, the Robina Institute for Criminal Law and Criminal Justice, the Corporate Institute, and the Energy Transition Lab (this last in partnership with the Office of the Vice President for Research and the Institute on the Environment).

I am grateful that the Law School will continue to benefit from Dean Wippman’s leadership over the next six months as we launch a national search for a new dean. The early phases of a strategic planning process underway within the Law School align well with the planning and consultation that are typically undertaken as part of collegiate leadership transitions. As a result, we will move forward quickly to establish a search committee, develop a position profile, and recruit outstanding candidates. My aim is to bring candidates to campus for interviews during spring semester and to have a new dean in place by July 1.

The support and engagement of the Law School community will be vital to the success of this search. I invite your nominations of faculty, staff, and students to serve as members of the search committee, a committee that will help shape the position profile for the new dean and ensure a strong and inclusive search process. Please send nominations for membership on the committee to me at A brief word or two in support of the nomination would be helpful. I hope to receive your suggestions by Monday, January 4, 2016, and I will follow up in early January about next steps. In the meantime, please also assure students of our continued commitment to them and to the school.

Most importantly, I want to thank David for his exemplary service to the Law School and our University. Through difficult times, he has kept a steady focus on quality, and his leadership has positioned the Law School exceptionally well for the future. I am grateful for all he has accomplished and grateful, too, that he will continue to lead the school for the remainder of the academic year.

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