Symbolic Change of UFLaw Leadership Takes Place Thursday

ORLANDO, Fla. – Robert H. Jerry II will take over symbolic reins of the country’s seventh largest law school Thursday as the UF Levin College of Law holds an alumni reception in connection with The Florida Bar annual meeting being held here.

Jerry, to become the law school’s 13th dean on July 1st, will accept a “gavel of leadership” from current Dean Jon Mills during ceremonies planned for the World Center Marriott in front of more than 250 alumni of the state’s 93-year-old flagship law school. The event is from 6:30-8:00 p.m. at the Orlando World Center Marriott.

Jerry’s selection was announced in February by UF Provost David Colburn after a national search for a successor to Mills, who will return to the law faculty and directorship of the school’s Center for Governmental Responsibility, which he founded in 1972. Mills, named interim dean in 1999, was appointed to the position full-time in 2001 by UF President Charles Young and agreed to serve through June of this year.

In addition to the leadership change ceremony, those attending the reception will hear detailed plans for the more than $22 million expansion of law facilities due to get underway in July. Included will be enlargement of the library and addition of new classrooms and other space for students and faculty.

Jerry, 49, has been serving since 1998 as the Floyd R. Gibson Endowed Professor of Law at the University of Missouri School of Law. Previously he held the Herff Chair at the University of Memphis School of Law from 1994-98, and served as dean of the University of Kansas School of Law 1989-94. His teaching expertise and scholarship focus is on insurance law, contracts and health-care finance and access.

Jerry earned his bachelor’s degree magna cum laude from Indiana State University, and his law degree cum laude from University of Michigan. He clerked for Circuit Judge George E. MacKinnon, U.S. Court of Appeals, District of Columbia, and practiced law three years with the Indianapolis firm of Barnes Hickam Pantzer & Boyd.

“It is this combination of private-sector experience and national standing as an administrator and scholar that attracted us to Professor Jerry,” said Colburn at the hiring announcement. “He is a leading scholar in his field, widely respected nationally, and we believe he offers the Levin College of Law great leadership for the future.”

Mills has been linked with the law school for more than 30 years, starting as a student and graduating in 1972 after doing undergraduate work at Stetson University. He practiced law as an active alumnus, and served as state legislator (1978-88) and Speaker of the House (1987-88) where he sponsored landmark legislation on education, children’s issues and the environment. He rejoined the law faculty in 1988.

He has appeared in state and federal court, including the Florida Supreme Court, on various issues, including voting rights and constitutional issues. Mills has taught and lectured in Costa Rica, Brazil, University of Warsaw in Poland, and Cambridge University, and has authored books, reports and articles on a variety of legal issues.

Previous UF law deans include Richard Matasar, 1996-99; Jeffrey E. Lewis, 1988-96; Frank Reed, 1981-88; Joseph Richard Julin, 1971-80; Frank E. Maloney, 1959-70; Henry Fenn, 1948-58; Clifford W. Crandall, 1947-48; Harry Trusler, 1915-47; Thomas W. Hughes, 1912-15; and Albert J. Farrah, 1909-12. Interim deans include E. L. Roy Hunt, 1980-81 and 1970-71, and Betty Taylor, 1981.

  • For Further Information: Dean Mills and Dean Jerry will be at the law school through Wednesday afternoon and can be reached at 392.9238.
  • Additional information on the Thursday reception: Kerrie Mitchell of the Development and Alumni Affairs Office (352.392.9296 or cell: 352.256.6057)

Published: June 25th, 2003

Category: News