Time is right

UND Law’s Rand to conclude her service as dean and return to faculty with school well-positioned for her successor

Kathryn Rand

UND Law School Dean Kathryn R.L. Rand, the first female head of the law school whose nine years in charge ranks her as one of the longest-serving law deans in the country, has decided to conclude her service as dean and continue her role as a law school faculty member. Image courtesy of Rob Carolin.

UND President Mark Kennedy said it best when he called the UND School of Law a “cornerstone” of the University of North Dakota.

Since 2009, this cornerstone program has been by guided by the outstanding leadership of Dean Kathryn R.L. Rand. Recently, Rand announced she has decided to conclude her service as dean.

“I have been honored to give back to the University that has given so much to me,” said Rand, a 1990 UND graduate.  “My commitment to UND and the School of Law won’t end with my deanship, as I will return to my role as a full-time faculty member.”

Rand was selected as permanent dean via a national search in 2011, following successive appointments as acting dean in 2009 and interim dean in 2010. She is the first permanent female dean in the school’s 119-year history. Her nine years of service as dean ranks her as one of the longest serving law deans in the country.

“Kathryn has been an inspiring leader for the law school,” said UND Provost Tom DiLorenzo. “She has created a close-knit and supportive workplace for faculty and staff, and an exceptional learning community for law students.”

Built for the future

Kathryn Rand

Rand takes one of the first swings with a sledgehammer prior to demolition of parts of UND School of Law. The work eventually led to a $14.4 million renovation and addition to the building. Image courtesy of Rob Carolin.

A capstone accomplishment during Rand’s tenure was her effort to secure state and private funding for, and complete construction of, a $14.4 million major addition to and renovation of the existing law school building.

The project was ambitious both in scope relative to the budget, and in deadline. Rand promised students they would be displaced only for a single academic year.  With an extraordinary collective effort, the building project was completed on budget and on time.

Rand recalled the down-to-the-wire work of staff and faculty to ensure the school was ready for students.

“We were ripping plastic off new furniture minutes before a reception for new first-year students,” she said. “I met prospective students while I was wiping down classroom tables.”

The result is a state-of-the-art professional education setting for UND’s law students.

“I was skeptical any dean could get the necessary funding and complete the building project on time and on budget, but Kathryn and her team managed a ‘Miracle on University Avenue,’” said North Dakota Supreme Court Chief Justice Gerald VandeWalle. “The new building is an important investment not only in the future of North Dakota’s legal profession, but for our entire state.”

North Dakota’s Law School

As North Dakota’s only law school, Rand took to heart the importance of the connection between the school and the state it serves.

“Under her leadership, the law school has developed a wonderful partnership with the North Dakota courts and the State Bar Association of North Dakota (SBAND),” said Darcie Einarson, SBAND president. “She has helped to improve the delivery of legal services in our state on a number of levels.”

Rand worked with SBAND and the courts to develop the Rural Justice Program, which encourages law students to pursue legal careers in rural communities in North Dakota. In 2017, the program was nominated for a national award.

Rand helped to increase access to affordable legal assistance by partnering with Legal Services of North Dakota to open an office in the law school.  Law students work as externs in the office.

Rand (center) cuts the ribbon on the addition and renovation to the School of Law with former UND President Robert Kelley and then North Dakota lieutenant governor and UND alum, Drew Wrigley. Image courtesy of Rob Carolin.

Rand (center) cuts the ribbon on the addition and renovation to the School of Law with former UND President Robert Kelley and then North Dakota lieutenant governor and UND alum, Drew Wrigley. Image courtesy of Rob Carolin.

Navigating ‘Rocky Rapids’

Rand and her team successfully navigated “some rocky rapids,” said Kennedy, referring to national declines in law school applications and legal jobs.

While other law schools experienced dramatic enrollment declines or significant downturns in student admission profiles, UND School of Law largely has met its enrollment targets. In the context of law school downsizing, mergers, closures and accreditation sanctions, this is no small feat.

Time to transition

The time was right for Rand to return to the faculty because of these accomplishments.

“The School of Law is well positioned for the future, and is in good stead for the next dean,” said Rand.

The next law dean will be selected through a typical transition process. While Rand still serves as dean, the law school, with the University’s support and the help of a consultant, will track trends and innovations in legal education to develop new initiatives and programs.

“Our faculty are committed to academic excellence,” said Rand. “We have received national attention for our curricular innovations and distinctive programs.”

New programs will ensure the education offered continues to elevate and strengthen the UND School of Law.

“Because of Kathryn’s leadership, the law school is well equipped to meet the challenges facing legal education in the 21st century while staying true to its core values,” said Kennedy. “The law school has my unequivocal affirmation of support, and we will no doubt attract many qualified candidates as we formalize our search for a new dean.”

-Article special to UND Today by Rob Carolin, UND School of Law