Here is the official announcement:
Bruce P. Smith, a noted legal historian and award-winning University of Illinois law professor, has been named Dean of the College of Law, pending approval by U. of I. trustees at their Jan. 15 meeting in Chicago.
Dean Smith, who joined the law faculty in 2001 and has served as associate dean for academic affairs since April, would become the college’s 12th dean and Guy Raymond Jones Faculty Scholar, effective Feb. 16.
He would replace Heidi Hurd, who was dean from 2002 to 2007, when she stepped down to join the faculty of the more than century-old college.
“Bruce is a scholar of considerable vision and energy with high ambitions for the college,” said Richard Herman, chancellor of the Urbana campus. “He is just the right person to be leading our fine College of Law.”
Dean Smith, 44, says his years on the U. of I. faculty will yield a smooth transition to heading the college, ranked 27th in the latest U.S. News ratings of the nation’s top 100 law schools.
“The College of Law has tremendous strengths: a world-class faculty, top-notch students, talented administrators and staff, and highly accomplished alumni,” Smith said. “It is a privilege to have the opportunity to lead such a remarkable institution and to advance the mission of this great public research university. I look forward to building on the significant legacy of my predecessors, helping the college achieve our ambitious goals, and visiting with many of our alumni in the coming months.”
Dean Smith, whose research has focused on Anglo-American criminal procedure in the 18th and 19th centuries, is co-director of the Legal History Program at the college, whose graduates include Illinois Supreme Court Justice Lloyd Karmeier and Michael Strautmanis, longtime legal counsel to President-elect Barack Obama.
He has written a book that will be published this year on the history of common law, along with numerous articles that have appeared in peer-reviewed journals and law reviews.
In 2008, Dean Smith was one of two recipients of the university’s prestigious Campus Award for Graduate and Professional Teaching, which recognizes excellence in the classroom, innovative approaches to teaching and other contributions to improved instruction, including influence on curriculum.
“I have been deeply impressed by the intensity and dedication of Professor Smith’s work as a scholar and teacher of law, and by the exciting vision he brings to the challenges of the law deanship,” said Provost Linda Katehi.
Before joining the U. of I., Smith practiced law for five years at Covington & Burling in Washington, D.C., working primarily in patent litigation, employment law and sports law, representing the National Football League, National Basketball Association and National Hockey League.
He received law and doctoral degrees from Yale University, where he was a Mellon Fellow in the Humanities and senior editor of the Yale Law Journal. He received a bachelor’s degree summa cum laude with highest honors in history from Williams College, and received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in history from the University of Cambridge, where he attended as a Hershel Smith Fellow.