UC Berkeley School of Law announces new dean

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The UC Berkeley School of Law announced Monday that Sujit Choudhry, a distinguished professor and an internationally recognized expert on comparative constitutional law, will become dean July 1.

Choudhry, a professor at New York University School of Law, will succeed interim dean Gillian Lester and replace Christopher Edley Jr., former dean who stepped down in December after almost 10 years of service.

“This is a sensational appointment,” said Robert D. Cooter, a campus law professor acting on the selection committee. “The job of the dean is impossible because it combines so many skills that you can’t expect to find in a single person. I think that Sujit combines those skills to a degree that is truly remarkable. I think he is going to do great things for the law school.”

Choudhry is also the founder and faculty director for the Center for Constitutional Transitions at NYU, the world’s first university-based center that “generates and mobilizes knowledge in support of constitution building.”

Choudhry has published and edited more than 70 works and has worked as a foreign constitutional expert in support of constitutional transitions in places including Egypt, Jordan, Libya and Tunisia, Nepal and Sri Lanka.  His international scope is in line with the law school’s vision to become more global.

“Berkeley Law is poised to be a global leader in equipping its students to thrive in this changing environment,” Choudhry said in a press release. “In the 21st century, the very best law schools will integrate research, experiential education, and policy engagement to make the whole greater than the sum of its parts. The best law schools will also be global crossroads for people and ideas from around the world.”

According to Cooter, the nationwide selection process that began in August was arduous. The campus selection committee was composed of four law faculty, one nonlaw faculty, a nonlaw faculty chair, one alumnus, one student and one staff  member.

Prior to working at NYU, Choudhry joined the University of Toronto in 1999, where he received tenure in 2004.  He earned law degrees from Harvard, Oxford and Toronto.

Choudhry, 44, will serve a five-year term.

“Sujit is the kind of person who’s comfortable talking to and interacting with anyone from first-year students to heads of state and CEOs,” said Robert Howse, professor of international law at NYU. “He’s a very polished, engaged and thoughtful leader, and I think he’ll make a great dean.”

Contact Taryn Smith at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @tarynshelby.