Penelope Bryan to Step Down as Dean of Whittier Law School

Whittier Law School Dean Penelop Bryan

Penelope Bryan announced today that she will step down as Dean of Whittier Law School effective March 1, 2016.

In 2009, she left her post at the University of Denver to accept the position, following a nationwide search. During her seven years as Whittier Law School’s dean, she guided the school through the greatest era of change in its 50-year history. Recognizing the coming changes in legal education, she transformed the school to meet the challenges of today’s legal education market. Whittier Law was among the first law schools to embrace a more experiential, hands-on curriculum that gives students extensive practical training and allows the faculty to maintain an academic focus. Whittier Law, under the able leadership of Associate Dean Funk, has become a national leader in assessment of legal educational outcomes. In addition, the school’s diversity numbers made a historic comeback that honors Whittier’s long-standing mission, and U.S. News and World Report named Whittier as the third most diverse law school in the nation in 2015. Dean Bryan’s fundraising efforts led to the design and construction of the Keisel Advocacy Center, a world-class, state-of-the-art courtroom which serves as a meeting place for the legal community as well as a living classroom for students. Finally, in collaboration with Orange County Coastkeepers, Whittier Law established an Environmental Water Law Clinic to help students train for the field of environmental law and protect the quality of Orange County’s water.

According to Sharon Herzberger, President of Whittier College, “Dean Bryan has successfully guided Whittier Law School through a turbulent sea change in the law school environment over the past seven years. Two years ago, after the expiration of her contract, the Board of Directors and College had urged her to stay on to guide Whittier Law through various challenges, and reluctantly accept her resignation due to personal circumstances. We are grateful for her service over this period and we are proud of the achievements of our Law School during her tenure. Leading the Law School to adopt such an innovative and practice-oriented curriculum was her crowning accomplishment and an important legacy.”

An interim dean will soon be announced.

Dean Bryan commented, “I have found my time at Whittier challenging and rewarding. I now look forward to new pursuits, possibly the more contemplative and peaceful life of a scholar – an aspect of my identity I have greatly missed during my 10 years in legal education administration. I also intend to work with causes that always have meant a great deal to me, such as true equality for women and protection of their children.”

In addition, several faculty will be taking advantage of a Voluntary Separation Program, offered to qualified faculty, to provide them with the opportunity to pursue other opportunities. Faculty members who have elected to participate include Professors Mary Ellen Gale, Julie Manasfi, William W. Patton, Calvin Peeler, and Martin Pritikin, who have been with the law school a combined total of 96 years. They will remain at Whittier through the end of the Spring semester 2016.

Direct any media inquiries to: Judy DeVine, Director of Communications, Whittier Law School. Email: jdevine@law.whittier.edu. Phone: (714) 444-4141 ext. 131.

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