July 15, 2008

Elon Law Dean Steps Down, Cites Health Problems


GREENSBORO -- Elon University School of Law announced Monday the founding dean is stepping down. Dean Leary Davis cited ongoing health problems for leaving the post. He intends to remain on staff as a professor.

Davis recently has had vascular problems. Surgery to remove a blood clot kept him out of work for nearly two months earlier this year. Afterward his wife asked him to slow down.

"And I'm constitutionally opposed to that as dean," Davis said.

Davis was named dean in 2005 and is credited by most at Elon with developing the law school from the ground up.

The school is in downtown Greensboro. Davis envisioned the law school near an epicenter of courts and attorneys to give students real-world experience.

Davis helped found Campbell University's law school in 1975 -- serving as dean until 1986 -- and remained there until joining Elon.

Elon admitted its first law students in the fall of 2006 and received provisional accreditation from the American Bar Association last month. The school will need to meet additional criteria before applying for full accreditation in two years, which is typical for the process.

Davis said guiding the school through the remainder of the process will require a lot of time and dedication, two things he feared his health would prevent.

"It would not be fair to the law school for me to be out of commission for a few months like I was last spring," Davis said.

Provost Gerry Francis was on the search committee that hired Davis. He said Davis was perfect for the position because of his wealth of experience, vision and vast professional network. Francis said he is disappointed Davis will not be able to see the school through the ABA accreditation process, but said Davis has done "a yeoman's work."

"It's certainly easier to continue with the same person but we've got great leadership in George Johnson (Jr.) for the interim," Francis said.

Francis named Johnson interim dean Monday. Johnson was a professor of law and associate dean of academic affairs at Elon and has a long history in academia and law.

Davis will step down effective Aug. 1. Francis said the school will begin a search for his replacement this fall and hopes to name the new dean by the spring.

Contact J. Brian Ewing at 373-7351 or [email protected] record.com

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