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Law School's Lehman to take top Cornell post

Law School Dean Jeffrey Lehman will leave the University July 1 to become the 11th president of Cornell University, making him the latest of many officials in recent years who have left positions other than president at U-M for the top jobs at other universities.

He follows Linda Wilson, who was vice president for research at U-M and became president of Radcliffe College in 1989; Charles Vest, provost, who became president of MIT in 1990; J. Bernard Machen, provost, who went to the University of Utah in 1998; Walter Harrison, vice president for university relations and secretary, who left for the University of Hartford in 1998; and Maureen Hartford, vice president for student affairs, who went to Meredith College in 1999. Nancy Cantor became chancellor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2001 after serving as provost of U-M.

Lehman is known nationally as a strong leader in higher education and has been in the forefront of the University’s defense of affirmative action. He has served as dean of the Law School for nine years.

“During his tenure the school has maintained its stellar academic stature and significantly expanded its programs in transnational law, legal writing and clinical education,” says president Mary Sue Coleman. “In addition, Jeff is a distinguished and articulate voice in the University's defense of its law school admissions policies with an unwavering commitment to educational diversity. Along the way, he has fostered wonderful relationships with alumni and friends, building a strong foundation for the law school's future. I am happy for Jeff and wish him all the best as he embarks on this wonderful opportunity.”

Provost Paul N. Courant’s memories of Lehman predate his tenure as dean. “I know personally that he was a brilliant student—he got the highest grade in the class in a course that he took from me—and I also know personally that he has since become a brilliant and accomplished leader,” Courant says.

Lehman will be the first Cornell alumnus to serve as president of the university. He received an undergraduate degree in mathematics from Cornell in 1977. He also holds advanced degrees in law and in public policy from U-M.

"The Board of Trustees is delighted that Dean Lehman will return to his alma mater as its 11th president,” Cornell Board chairman Peter C. Meinig says. “Dean Lehman's commitment to the welfare of students at all levels and his understanding of the public responsibilities of American universities are particularly important qualities for the presidency of New York's land grant university. All of the higher education community appreciates the eloquent voice he has brought to the discussion of complex issues of educational policy. That is especially true with regard to the complex and critically important subject of affirmative action in university admissions."

Lehman is a native New Yorker. He was born in Bronxville and grew up in White Plains and Bethesda, Md. After completing his formal education, Lehman served as law clerk to Chief Judge Frank M. Coffin of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, and then as law clerk to Associate Justice John Paul Stevens of the Supreme Court of the United States. He was an associate in the Washington, D.C., law firm of Caplin & Drysdale before he joined the Michigan faculty in 1987. Lehman has taught at the Yale Law School and at the University of Paris. He now serves as the president of the American Law Deans Association and as a trustee of the Skadden Fellowship Foundation. In 1995, the National Law Journal named him one of 40 “Rising Stars in the Law.”


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