Dean’s Message

Published: February 10th, 2003

Category: News Briefs

I am pleased to report the successful conclusion of two major law school efforts — our search for a new leader for the Levin College of Law and another phase of our building campaign. Most of you have learned by now of University of Florida President Charles Young’s announcement that former University of Kansas Law School Dean Robert Jerry will join the college in July as its 13th dean. Jerry is now Missouri Endowed Floyd R. Gibson Professor at the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law. (Complete story on Jerry at Many of you also may know that while we received the bulk of our funding — more than $23 million in public and private funds — for construction before last fall, we continued to raise funds to enable us to again apply for state matching dollars and come closer to the estimated $50 million needed to complete all phases of our construction and renovation plans. We intensified this effort in September, and by the end of the year received $564,000 in gifts and pledges — from $25 to $100,000 — from 105 donors. As a result, UF has placed the law school on a list for a Courtelis Fund match of $1,128,000. Construction begins later this year. More than $300,000 of the contributions resulted from a fund-raising effort for the Justice Stephen C. O’Connell Supreme Court Reading Room. The project was initiated by his widow, Cynthia O’Connell, to seek gifts from his friends and colleagues to name a large study room in the new library space in his honor. A special note of thanks and congratulations for the success of this project goes to our alumni leaders and Development Director Donald Hale, Associate Director Kelly Wood and others in the Development and Alumni Affairs Office for theirhard work and dedication. As I have said, we need facilities that match the quality of our students, staff, faculty and alumni. Now we will fulfill that promise. As you may read in the message below from Professor Jerry — sent to the law school community following President Young’s announcement — this kind of shared commitment to the advancement of an institution is vital to its success. Professor Jerry feels — as I do — that people here are dedicated to the best interests of the law school. He shares our vision for the future of this great place, and I am pleased he is joining us. — Dean Jon Mills


Please know I am delighted that I will soon be moving to Gainesville to serve as dean of the Levin College of Law. My wife, Lisa, shares my enthusiasm. We are eager to make the transition and appreciate your many offers of assistance. When the search process began many weeks ago, I spoke honestly when I told search committees, provosts and presidents that I did not want to be a dean again unless it could be at an institution where there was a shared commitment among the faculty, administration and alumni to take a strong institution and move it to the next level. I believe I have found that situation at Florida. You already have faculty, staff, and students of extraordinary quality. But I am confident that if we work together and make good decisions that build on this foundation, the college’s best years are in its future. I will be making a number of trips to Gainesville before July 1. Although some of those trips will be short, I hope I will be able to visit with many of you on those occasions. — Professor Robert Jerry

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