Law School Dean Jerry Anderson announces decision to step down and return to faculty

The following message announcing Dean Jerry Anderson’s decision to step down as dean of the Drake Law School and return to his faculty appointment was sent from Provost Sue Mattison to Drake University faculty and staff on Wednesday, May 10, 2023.

Dear Colleagues,

I am writing to share with you that, after seven years in the role, Drake Law School Dean Jerry Anderson has decided the 2023–2024 academic year will be his eighth and last year as dean.  A Drake Law professor since 1991, Dean Anderson plans to return to the faculty in the fall of 2024, continuing his devotion to serve Drake Law School and passion for his scholarly discipline of environmental law.    

I will be initiating a search process to identify Dean Anderson’s replacement. The Law Faculty Committee will survey its faculty later this week to appoint four members of the seven member search committee, one of whom I’ll appoint as search chair. Other members of the committee will include a Law School student representative, an academic dean, and a member of the Law School’s Board of Governors. The chair will begin the process of developing the position description this month, and my goal is to name the new dean by the start of spring semester 2024. 

The Law School is in a strong position to attract a highly talented successor, in very large part because of Dean Anderson’s many notable accomplishments. I’d like to take this opportunity to share my sincere gratitude to Dean Anderson, and highlight the Law School’s many achievements under his visionary leadership.  

  • Through hard work and relationship-building, Dean Anderson’s efforts have resulted in the Law School’s endowment increasing by 44% (from $36 million to over $52 million) and over $18 million raised so far for The Ones campaign. 
  • In 2021–2022, Drake Law School successfully navigated the American Bar Association (ABA) 10-year reaffirmation of accreditation, highlighting continued commitment to upholding program excellence.
  • Dean Anderson continues to lead several initiatives to prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion within the Drake Law School community including:
    • In 2017, a dedicated position was established of Assistant Director of Admissions for diversity recruitment.
    • Named in honor of the late Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Cady, Dean Anderson introduced the Cady Fellows program in 2017—an innovative initiative that guarantees incoming students from underrepresented groups a summer clerkship with sponsoring law firms or companies. 
    • Under Dean Anderson’s direction and leadership, the first scholarships were created in the Law School focused on providing financial support to students from diverse backgrounds and students from the LGBTQ+ community.
  • The Law School launched several new programs that have enriched the curriculum while providing students with a more diverse and comprehensive educational experience. These programs include the Master of Jurisprudence in Compliance and Risk Management, the Refugee Clinic, the Rural Access to Justice Initiative, and the Wrongful Convictions Clinic. 
  • The Drake Law School has risen significantly in national rankings because of Dean Anderson’s focused work on improving the school’s profile and national reputation. These efforts have a major impact on enrollment and philanthropy.  
  • Dean Anderson led the initiative to establish the Cady Day of Service, where Law School faculty, staff, students, alumni, and administrators contributing hundreds of person-hours in service to the Des Moines Community. Dean Anderson’s passion for environmental justice means he usually spends the day picking up trash and cutting brush from local parks and trails.  

Dean Anderson has led the Law School through a period of notable progress not without significant external pressures, and the School has made enormous strides and grown stronger under his leadership. I respect Dean Anderson’s decision to return to his love of teaching and service. He is a highly valued professor whose insight, knowledge, and perspective will greatly serve our Law students and the communities they serve. 

A few years ago, in a meeting with the deans, I named each of their superpowers. While recognizing Dean Anderson and all of the deans have a multitude of leadership strengths, Dean Anderson’s superpowers are his kindness and compassion. I’m grateful for his wisdom during challenging times, and his commitment to ethical leadership. 

Please join me in thanking Dean Anderson for his years of service as dean, as well as his continued support of the faculty and staff, and please take part in many opportunities to celebrate his legacy in the coming academic year. 

Warm regards,