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W&L Law Dean Smolla to leave for Furman presidency next July

Rodney A. Smolla, dean of the law school at Washington and Lee University, will become the 11th president of Furman University in Greenville, S.C., on July 1.

The departure from Lexington will be Smolla’s third significant career move in seven years.
He was named dean of the University of Richmond law school in 2003 and moved to W&L four years later. While in Lexington, he championed an innovative third-year program that will allow students to focus on the types of issues and cases they will face in practice rather than to continue taking courses in specialized areas of the law.

A First Amendment scholar, Smolla is a graduate of Yale University and the Duke University law school. He was a law professor and director of the Institute of Bill of Rights law at the College of William and Mary before he joined the UR law faculty in 1998. He was named one of Virginia Lawyers Weekly’s “Leaders in the Law” in 2008.

Smolla, 56, will succeed David E. Shi, who is retiring after 16 years as president of the 2,600-student liberal arts college.

In addition to legal scholarship, Smolla has published three books for a broader audience and a fourth, The Constitution Goes to College, describes the constitutional principals that have shaped American higher education. It is scheduled for publication next year by New York University Press.

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