Dean Hamoudi's message to the UC Law community
With great pleasure and excitement, I begin my service today as the 27th Dean of the University of Cincinnati College of Law. In so doing, I am deeply cognizant of, and greatly humbled by, the examples of my predecessors. I have an 1882 eighth edition of the Introduction to American Law, authored by the College’s first Dean, displayed prominently in my office. That work, the core of which was a series of lectures prepared by Dean Walker for his UC law students, was the foundational text that every aspiring lawyer in America needed to master to succeed in our chosen profession. The Editor of that eighth edition was Manning F. Force, a major general in the Union Army who fought in Vicksburg and the Battle of Atlanta before returning to Cincinnati to serve as a prominent lawyer and ultimately a justice of the Superior Court of Cincinnati. This is a law school with a deep tradition of which it is justifiably very proud.
...(W)e can only give proper reverence to the giants of the past by keeping our eyes fixed on the future, and the exciting possibilities it brings.
Dean Haider Ala Hamoudi
I also know that we can only give proper reverence to the giants of the past by keeping our eyes fixed on the future, and the exciting possibilities it brings. In this regard, I note that the College of Law finds itself in an enviable place. It has recently hired four new incredible faculty members, whose scholarly achievements speak for themselves. It boasts bar passage and employment figures that place it at or near the top of law schools throughout the state of Ohio. It is a top 15 school in delivering practical training to law students in its rich and varied experiential programs. Finally, from the Ohio Innocence Project to the Jones Center to the Urban Morgan Institute and beyond, it is a mainstay of the southwestern Ohio community and known throughout the world for upholding core legal values such as equal justice for all, human rights, and the rule of law. It is therefore in a very strong position to advance, in these challenging times for higher education generally and legal education in particular.
I have been asked often over the past few months about my plans for the College, and each time, my answer remains the same. I plan first and foremost to listen to the stakeholders who have spent years working within this institution to make it the great place that it is. I wish to listen to students, to staff, to faculty, to alumni, to university officials, to the broader legal community, and to countless others, to learn more from them, and with them to develop a comprehensive plan for success. For someone in my position to do otherwise would, in my view, prove a tremendous mistake in the long run.
At the same time, I regard it as important to share my own broad priorities as your new Dean, already known to those I had the privilege and honor to meet during my interview visits to Cincinnati, so that we can begin in earnest the work before us to take this storied institution to new and greater heights. I highlight three, noting my eagerness to discuss them and other matters with all of you over the next few months as I settle into my position.
By working together in creative and strategic ways we can fuel discovery and learning that leads to social transformation.
Next Lives Here
First, faculty excellence is a matter I have long taken seriously. I began my academic leadership journey as the Associate Dean of Research and Faculty Development, and since then, and indeed even before it, I have regarded it as fundamental to any institution of higher learning to enable its faculty to generate and disseminate impactful ideas through the production of high caliber scholarship. As the University’s Next Lives Here plan articulates better than I could, “greater investment in our faculty creates opportunities to enhance student success, pursue and retain high-caliber talent, advance the trajectory of our scholarly output, and increase our impact on the region and beyond. By working together in creative and strategic ways we can fuel discovery and learning that leads to social transformation.”
The next two areas of priority follow naturally from the first. Student success must remain absolutely core to our mission, and central to all that we do. It is important in this context to look beyond the obvious metrics such as employment and bar passage, important as they are, to other drivers that can lead to success on these and other scales. Admissions decisions, for example, should be based primarily on who is most likely to succeed in law school and the legal profession, not purely on an attractive LSAT score. We must look to the well-being of our students and be aware that we serve as the front line in combating the problem of an appallingly high number of unhappy and substance addicted lawyers. We must instill within our students a deep understanding of the rigorous ethical framework within which lawyers operate and imbue them with facility in the broad set of skills and competencies that they need in order to comfortably inhabit their professional identities as members of the bar and officers of the court. And we must be inspired by the broad diversity of student backgrounds, viewpoints, and experiences, and do the work that is necessary to make sure that all feel that they belong at the College. Without these critical steps, any attempts to improve bar passage and employment will likely fall short and will certainly miss the very point of our mission of educating and inspiring leaders who pursue justice and advance the rule of law in society.
Finally, in this post-COVID era, we must turn to the important task of community building. Internally, this requires us to come together as the diverse and inclusive community of belonging that we aspire to be. Externally, it means embracing our community, serving as a pillar of justice, and seeking social transformation locally, regionally, and internationally.
We must be inspired by the broad diversity of student backgrounds, viewpoints, and experiences, and do the work that is necessary to make sure that all feel that they belong at the College.
Dean Haider Ala Hamoudi
To help me move forward with these priorities, I am privileged to work with an incredible team of professionals, staff, and administrators. Their commitment to our students and our collective work is essential to, and allows for, the College’s success. Given that team, and the strength of the institution and its remarkable faculty, as I look past the horizon, I see so much potential. I see a law school whose faculty are properly recognized as among the very best in the country in generating new ideas, and in developing in students the knowledge, ethical compass, and skills they need to succeed. I see a law school whose students continually graduate, pass the bar, and find valuable and rewarding employment at rates that place the College at the top of the law schools in Ohio and the broader region. And I see a law school that is emulated in its commitment to community, internally, locally, and indeed as part of a vibrant, global, legal family committed to human rights, equal and inclusive justice, and the rule of law.
We have an ambitious agenda. My parents did not, at considerable peril to themselves and their families, leave Saddam Hussein’s Iraq to emigrate to Columbus, Ohio to raise children who dream small. If their sacrifices could lead to America’s first Iraqi-American and Muslim-American law dean, serving in Timothy Walker’s giant wake, then I am honored and humbled to take up the mantle laid before me and give back to the country of the United States, and the state of Ohio within it, who have together given us so much. I hope you will join me in the enterprise. We can only succeed together.
With great excitement and due humility,
Dean Haider Ala Hamoudi
Dean and Professor of Law
Featured image of Dean Haider Ala Hamoudi. Photo provided.