Dean Kathryn Rand delivered her tenth and final “state of the law school” address at the State Bar Association’s Annual Meeting in Bismarck on June 14. Each year, as part of the Law School Luncheon, the dean of North Dakota’s law school is invited to give remarks to the state’s bench and bar. Dean Rand has used the opportunity to deliver a substantive update on the law school’s achievements and challenges. This year, her presentation focused on moving forward after deep budget cuts, the past year’s outstanding successes including partnering with the State Bar Association to host the regional rounds of the National Trial Competition, and the upcoming transition in the law school’s leadership. She also expressed her sincere appreciation for the generous support she has received through the years from North Dakota’s bench and bar as well as the law school’s alumni and friends.
Here is an excerpt from Dean Rand’s remarks:
I have been privileged to serve as dean of North Dakota’s law school for the past decade.
When I was selected as dean, I promised to help the faculty revamp our curriculum, to secure reaccreditation, and to accomplish the building project. I made those promises very publicly. But in private, even I had my doubts, as the building project was both ambitious and critical to the law school’s future. At that time, the multi-million-dollar major renovation and addition to the law school’s building was still just a dream, without funding or plans.
After the Grand Opening of the new and improved law school building in 2015, I had my first good night of sleep in years. A few months later, we completed our most successful reaccreditation process in memory—resulting in what two outside consultants recently described as a “new level of excellence” for UND School of Law. That “new level of excellence” included innovative improvements to our curriculum to emphasize practical skills, experiential learning, and practice-ready graduates.
So, with those ambitious and critical promises fulfilled, I started to think about making room for new leadership at the law school. While I delayed that decision during the recent rounds of budget cuts, now it’s time.
I am not leaving UND School of Law. My heart is here, as it has always been. I want to continue to serve our students and our state, just in a different role. I am looking forward to returning to the classroom, to teaching future generations of lawyers for our communities, our state, and our nation.
Seeing all of you here today, I think of my grandmother from Rugby, North Dakota. She never would have imagined that her granddaughter would someday stand in front of the state’s bench and bar to give a speech like this. She never would have imagined that her granddaughter would have the opportunity to lead our state’s law school. I truly am humbled to stand before you today, for the tenth and final time as dean.
Thinking of my grandmother reminds me that no one accomplishes any achievement alone. Every success at the law school during my deanship has been the result of a team effort—and that team includes the bench and bar. I never set out to be dean of a law school, but I’m so grateful I had the opportunity to serve our students and our state in this way.
All of the people I’ve worked with over the past decade—our faculty and staff, our alumni, the bar association, the state courts, and the entire bench and bar—I cannot thank you enough for your support, your helpful suggestions, your constructive criticism, your patience and your kindness, and above all, your generosity of spirit.
On behalf of the UND School of Law’s students, staff, and faculty, and from the bottom of my heart, thank you for all you do to support North Dakota’s law school!