Prof. Howell Jackson Designated Acting Dean

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On January 15, Harvard University President Drew Gilpin Faust announced her selection of Professor Howell Jackson ’82 as the prospective acting dean of Harvard Law School. His appointment would be effective as soon as current Dean Elena Kagan ’86 is able to take up her duties as Solicitor General, pending her confirmation by the United States Senate. In her announcement, Faust emphasized that she sought an acting dean who had the skills to take over the administration of the school as soon as possible.

Jackson currently serves as James S. Reid, Jr. Professor of Law, and specializes in financial regulation. He earned his B.A. from Brown University, and in 1982 he earned his M.B.A. and J.D. from Harvard. Jackson, who began teaching at HLS in 1989, served as vice dean for budget from 2003 to 2006.

He is also the direct descendant of his namesake, Howell Edmunds Jackson, who was an associate Supreme Court Justice from 1893 to 1895.

The full text of President Faust’s email follows below:

To: Members of the Harvard Law School CommunityFrom: Drew Faust

As you know, Dean Elena Kagan has been nominated to serve as Solicitor General of the United States. The Senate’s confirmation hearings on her nomination may well take place quite soon. If Elena is confirmed, she expects to take up her new duties very shortly afterward. I have therefore wanted to move quickly to identify an acting dean who can be ready to serve.

I am very pleased to let you know that Howell Jackson, the James S. Reid, Jr., Professor of Law, has accepted my request that he be prepared to serve in this role. (The prospect and precise timing of Howell’s service as acting dean will depend on the course of the Senate confirmation proceedings on Elena’s nomination.) Howell is a first-rate scholar and teacher who joined the HLS faculty nearly 20 years ago. He holds both his J.D. and M.B.A. degrees from Harvard, and he has ably served the Law School in senior administrative roles for much of the past decade–first as Bob Clark’s associate dean for research and research programs from 2001 to 2003, then as Elena Kagan’s vice dean for budget from 2003 to 2006. Especially at this moment in the life of the Law School and the University, we are fortunate to be able to turn to a prospective acting dean who not only is a distinguished academic, but also has deep experience with the school’s administrative and financial matters and a close working knowledge of the ambitious initiatives the school has been pursuing in recent years.

Should the Senate confirm Elena as Solicitor General, I envision a full and open search for a long-term dean, and I expect to solicit advice from across the HLS community on potential candidates from both within the school and beyond. When the time is right, I will be in touch with more information on the anticipated search. For today, I hope you will join me in thanking Howell Jackson for his willingness to take on an essential interim leadership role at an important transitional moment for the Law School and the University.

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