Dean to resign post, keep teaching

By Erica Mitchell

UK College of Law Dean Allan Vestal announced Friday that he will resign June 30, 2008, from the position he has held for eight years, but he will remain at the law school to teach.

“We are certainly sorry to see someone of Dean Vestal’s quality, commitment and leadership step down, but we are delighted that he is staying at the institution,” Provost Kumble Subbaswamy said in an e-mail.

“After eight years, you start to think about changing,” Vestal said.

Law deans generally serve for three years, so Vestal’s tenure was especially long, he said.

Vestal’s personal health also influenced his decision.

“Just recently I have had a couple of health things come up that will require my attention,” Vestal said.

During Vestal’s time as dean, the college has seen a commitment to bringing in faculty of the highest quality, Subbaswamy said.

“We have really accomplished a lot in terms of hiring junior faculty numbers,” Vestal said. “As a group they are highly accomplished.”

The college has hired eight professors during Vestal’s tenure and plans to hire three more for each of the next two years. Four of the six hires will fill new positions at the law school.

“The new faculty under Dean Vestal have been featured in the New York Times, have worked at the Supreme Court and are publishing some of the highest-quality research,” Subbaswamy said. “Moreover, Dean Vestal has been a leader in enhancing diversity at both the faculty and student levels.”

As dean, Vestal has also overseen plans for a new building for the law school. The school already has chosen a site and raised money in anticipation of completing the building in 2010.

“Dean Vestal has made great strides in moving forward with a new law school, which I believe is the kind of thing that will help elevate the UK College of Law to top-20 status,” Subbaswamy said.

“I’m sure the new dean will continue to vigorously pursue the new building,” Vestal said.

The provost will hold a national search for a new dean and try to have the position filled by July 1, 2008.

The position will attract someone of national standing and someone who is excellent in the classroom and as a legal scholar, Subbaswamy said.

“We want to look at as diverse a pool as possible,” Subbaswamy said. “We want someone who can work well with the faculty and with the administration to build on the foundation laid by Dean Vestal.”

The Board of Trustees appointed Vestal, 53, as the 11th dean of the College of Law after David Shipley resigned in 1998.

Before coming to UK, Vestal was a professor and associate dean at the Washington & Lee University Law School in Lexington, Va. He received his undergraduate and law degrees from Yale University.