University at Buffalo Law School Dean Makau Mutua is stepping down as dean, effective Dec. 19, after a seven-year tenure in which he introduced new law school programs in response to the changing legal marketplace, hired 22 new faculty, and led the school to its most ambitious fundraising campaign in its history.
Mutua, who has served as the law school's 19th dean, will return to the law school faculty as SUNY Distinguished Professor and Floyd H. and Hilda L. Hurst Faculty Scholar.
An interim dean will be announced later this semester, and a search for a new dean will be launched, said UB Provost Charles F. Zukoski.
"Dean Mutua has provided outstanding service to the university," Zukoski said. "He has led the school through a nationally challenging time for legal education, while strengthening the school's programs and faculty and advancing UB's teaching, research and engagement missions.
"Makau is a great believer in the power of legal education to create a path to justice and, in the role of the School of Law, in preparing the very best legal minds to serve society. We wish him much continued success as he prepares to return to the law school faculty."
UB President Satish K. Tripathi said that through Mutua's leadership the UB Law School is "well positioned to achieve even greater prominence in legal education and scholarship."
"I want to express my heartfelt thanks and deepest appreciation to Makau for his leadership and service to our university during his tenure as dean," Tripathi said.
A member of the UB Law School faculty since 1996, Mutua said it was a "great honor and privilege" to serve as dean of the law school.
"I am most proud of my work with my colleagues and with university leadership to lead our great law school through its renaissance. In spite of challenges in the legal profession, the UB Law School is on a path to overcome them and continue on its present path of academic excellence."
Mutua's accomplishments include the creation of new and innovative academic programs that support the school's global aspirations, among them two international programs that launched this semester: a joint-LLM program with the University of Lyon in France, and a program that allows internationally trained lawyers to earn a JD in two years.
Mutua also has worked to improve experiential learning opportunities in the law school in order to better train graduates, earning the praise of National Jurist, a leading legal education publication, which named the UB Law School as one of the programs delivering the best practical training.
During his tenure, the school's popular "Junior Faculty Forum" was created, which gives faculty the opportunity to present their work. Mutua also transformed the infrastructure and technological capabilities of the school and he enhanced the position of vice dean for research and faculty development to encourage and enable faculty research and scholarship.
Under Mutua's leadership, the school strengthened its relationships with lawyers and judges and expanded the law school's alumni network nationally. The law school embarked on what is expected to be the most successful fundraising campaign in school history, raising more than $23 million in just over five years toward a $30 million goal.
One of the world's leading scholars in international human rights law, Mutua earned his doctor of juridical science degree in 1987 from Harvard Law School. He has written extensively on international law, human rights and religion, and conducted numerous human rights, diplomatic and rule of law missions to countries in Africa, Latin America and Europe.
Mutua's influence has been widely recognized both nationally and internationally, and as dean he has earned several honors, including being asked to serve on an international Iran tribunal hearing in 2012.
Mutua was elected vice president of the American Society of International Law in 2011 and serves as a life member of the prestigious Council on Foreign Relations, a New York City-based think tank and membership organization that studies major international issues and publishes the journal Foreign Affairs.