Jerry Anderson, the Richard M. and Anita Calkins Distinguished Professor of Law, was named dean of Drake University Law School on July 1. In the new position, Anderson plans to continue and increase the Law School’s focus on providing a practical education for students, and to leverage these real-world opportunities to advance the Law School’s reputation nationally.
"We have a very special group of students, staff, faculty, and alumni who play a huge role in the practice, advancement, and improvement of the law," said Anderson. "I am honored to be selected to lead the Law School during an important time in its history. I want to expand our visibility nationwide, making sure that people know the great things we’re doing here.”
Since coming to Drake Law in 1991, Anderson has twice been selected as the Leland Forrest Outstanding Professor of the Year, and he served as associate dean from 1996–2001. He has also co-authored two books on environmental and property law. He is an expert in administrative law, environmental law, and property law. He earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of Kansas and his JD at Stanford Law School.
“We are in the midst of a transformative period in legal education, and Drake is well-positioned to creatively adapt to the changing needs of students and the profession," said Anderson. “I’m really excited about the Master of Jurisprudence (MJ) in compliance that we’re working on. We traditionally focus on the JD degree, but the marketplace has a need for a more focused degree for people who work in law but don’t need to be lawyers. And we’re trying to respond to that need with our MJ degree.”
Additionally, Anderson plans to help graduates find jobs in rural communities, increase the international student body, and work on decreasing student debt.
“I strongly believe in Drake Law School, and I want to help this school in whatever way I can,” said Anderson. “There are many things that set Drake Law apart from and above our peer institutions—the quality of our faculty, first of all. They really know how to teach, and they’ve all practiced law, so our students leave prepared to practice. Our Agricultural Law program continues to be the best in the country. We have a unique Legislative Practice program that prepares students to engage in legislative processes. Our Constitutional Law Center is one of only four in the country and brings impressive speakers to campus. We also have a world-class clinical program that bridges the gap between law school and practice. I could go on and on.”
As dean, Anderson will strive to increase alumni involvement with the Law School, stating that their participation is essential to continuing the distinctive programs that provide unique opportunities to Drake Law students.
“We absolutely could not do the things that make us who we are—such as Moot Court or [Drake] Law Review—without the support of our alumni, said Anderson. “We need alumni support in many ways, from adjunct professors to volunteer coaches for our various competition teams, as well as financial support. I also welcome suggestions for how we can improve the Law School.”
Anderson succeeds Ben Ullem, who served a two-year term as dean of Drake Law School.