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Kathryn Rand to step down as dean of UND School of Law

Kathryn Rand

Kathryn Rand, dean of the UND School of Law, will be stepping down from her leadership position but will remain on campus as a tenured faculty member.

Rand said Friday she intends to leave office Aug. 1 but is willing to remain longer "as needed" if the university is unable to name a new permanent dean by that date. Rand has served as dean of the law school, the only one in North Dakota, since 2009, beginning in an interim capacity before being appointed on a permanent basis in 2011.

She is the first permanent female dean in the school's history and, on Friday, Rand said the timing felt right to step down and return full time to the classroom.

"I did everything I had promised to do when I was hired as dean, so that was one piece of it," Rand said, "and coming out on the other side of the budget cuts was an important part."

She also cited what she believed to be the average length of tenure for law deans, which she said was about three years. Rand took that a sign that turnover in leadership is a "healthy thing, when it occurs at a relatively stable time and a successful time."

"And that's where we are on both of those," she added.

Rand listed the school's extensive building renovations completed in 2015 as one marker of that success. The addition was made in part to secure the school's re-accreditation, which was accomplished in 2016. Rand also points to the school's weathering of deep budget cuts over the past year as another area where a degree of stability has been found.

UND spokesman Peter Johnson said he didn't believe the university had yet assembled a search committee to seek out a replacement dean. He said he'd check in with UND Provost Tom DiLorenzo to see what the status of that might be, but said the provost has been "swamped" with the search for a new athletic director to replace outgoing leader Brian Faison.

Aside from Faison, the university is also now looking for a number of other high-level employees, including a replacement for Johnson, who is set to retire. Rand's departure would make for the second open dean position on campus—the other being for the UND College of Business and Public Administration, which is currently led on an interim basis by Steven Light, who previously worked in the provost's office and is Rand's husband.

Speaking for UND administration, Johnson said Rand has "done a fantastic job in so many ways," particularly in maintaining deep connections throughout the North Dakota legal and judicial community.

In her email to faculty and staff, whom she addresses as "family," Rand emphasizes the connection she has to the school. She ends her letter with a statement of gratitude that she underlined once again this week.

"I want to emphasize how privileged I felt to have had this opportunity to lead a law school that I love so much," Rand said, beginning to tear up as she expressed her thanks to the continued work of students, employees and alumni alike. "It means everything to me and it has set the law school in such good stead for the next leader."

Andrew Haffner

Andrew Haffner covers higher education and general assignment stories for the Grand Forks Herald. He attended the University of Wisconsin in Madison, where he studied journalism, political science and international studies. He previously worked at the Dickinson Press.

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