Legal Scholar to Become Law School Dean

The Associated Press
Monday, September 17, 2007; 8:04 PM

IRVINE, Calif. -- A renowned legal scholar was reappointed Monday as dean of the new law school at the University of California, Irvine, a week after the school rejected him.

Erwin Chemerinsky, a liberal scholar and commentator on constitutional law who recently represented exposed CIA agent Valerie Plame, was re-offered the position after talking in depth with UC Irvine Chancellor Michael V. Drake over the weekend.

His appointment must be approved by the UC Board of Regents.

Chemerinsky previously said Drake told him the offer had been withdrawn Sept. 11 because some board members were concerned about Chemerinsky's politics. Drake has insisted that Chemerinsky did not lose the post because of his politics.

Drake traveled to North Carolina to talk with Chemerinsky over the weekend. In a joint teleconference Monday, they lavished praise on each other, but declined to detail the nature of their discussions. Both said they were eager to put the past behind.

"When we got everything cleared up between us, the distance was gone," Drake said.

Chemerinsky agreed. "We were able to really see that what may have been significant differences weren't actually differences."

Drake defended his earlier actions Monday.

"I was at a place last week where I needed more comfort. I have developed that comfort and we're ready to move forward," he said.

After Chemerinsky was dropped, several faculty members accused Drake of quashing academic freedom and called for his resignation.

The new Donald Bren School of Law will be the first new public law school in California in 40 years and is expected to welcome its first class in 2009.

Chemerinsky taught for 21 years at the University of Southern California law school before moving to Duke University in 2004. In April 2005, Legal Affairs magazine named him one of the top 20 legal thinkers in America.


© 2007 The Associated Press