Dean of the Blewett School of Law

Position Overview

The University of Montana (UM) invites nominations and applications for the position of Dean of the Alexander Blewett III School of Law from interested individuals with diverse perspectives and backgrounds. This is an important opportunity to lead Montana's only law school and the only law school in the nation with an embedded Department of Public Administration and Policy.  If you have:

  • An ability to foster collaboration and strategic partnerships with internal and external stakeholders,
  • Sharp budgeting and planning acumen, and
  • A strong passion for how law and policy can work in tandem to improve society and honor the rich cultural landscape of Montana,

we encourage you to apply for this position.

About the Alexander Blewett III School of Law

Founded in 1912, the Blewett School of Law is an established leader in law and policy education. The first and only law school in the U.S. to house degree programs dedicated to both the practice of law and public administration, our programs prepare students through effective integration of theory and practice. Beyond preparing students for practice, our curriculum emphasizes areas of law and policy significant to the Rocky Mountain West including natural resource law, environmental law, and American Indian law and policy. The Blewett School of Law comprises 500 students and 37 faculty and staff with an operating budget of $6 million. We work and study in a spacious, state-of-the-art facility.

Our law curriculum is practice-rich and is taught by faculty with years of practice-based experience. Students actively prepare as attorneys from the start, beginning with an innovative skills-based program in the first year, continuing with intensive litigation and transactional simulation courses in the second year, and finishing with a required third-year clinical program offering professional placements at both in-house law clinics and government and public-interest law offices. This model of training and placing lawyers has earned the Blewett School of Law recognition as one of the best-value law schools in the nation. As Montana’s only law school, with 3,675 living alums, we enjoy a close connection to the Montana bench and bar.

Almost 30% of our graduates begin their careers in a coveted judicial clerkship. Our placement rate for prestigious federal clerkships, ranks us in top 15 in the nation. More than 80% of our graduates pass the bar exam on their first attempt, and over 92% pass within two years. The majority of practitioners and judges in the state have historically been graduates of the school. Notable alums include two past presidents of the American Bar Association, Robert W. Carlson and the Honorable William J. Jameson; two prior Chief Judges for the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, the Honorable James R. Browning and the Honorable Sidney R. Thomas; and the current Director of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Martha Williams. Our students also exemplify excellence in their studies, two students were recently named scholars for the prestigious Wyss Scholars for Conservation for the American West and two teams captured the top two spots at the Northwest Regional ABA Negotiation Competition.

The Blewett School of Law is also home to Max S. Baucus Institute. The work of the Max S. Baucus Institute is an extension of the important, bipartisan, consensus-building public service Ambassador Baucus exemplified during his long and distinguished career and prepare our next generation of public servants to engage in work that makes a meaningful difference for today’s leaders. The Baucus Institute serves as the home for the Department of Public Administration and Policy.

The Department of Public Administration and Policy (DPAP) provides innovative public service education for pre-career and in-career public and nonprofit administration students. It recently placed fourth nationally for the Best 25 Masters in Public Administration Schools and placed fifth out of the Best Masters in Nonprofit Management Programs by Best Value Schools. We offer a variety of programs focused on public administration, policy, and nonprofit organizations at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Our premier program, the Master of Public Administration (MPA), is the only NASPAA accredited program in Montana, with more than 2,000 alumni. Alumni within the program serve their communities and the state, such as Eldena Bear Don’t Walk, the first female Chief Justice of the Crow Tribe, and Christi Jacobsen, the current Montana Secretary of State. A DPAP student was recently named a Udall Scholar and another student was selected for the 2021 cohort of Newman Civic Fellows. 

The Center for Natural Resources and Environmental Policy is also housed within the Blewett School of Law. The Center helps people solve tough public problems, make informed decisions, and implement solutions that foster livable communities, vibrant economies, and healthy landscapes. The staff and Fellows are recognized experts in facilitation, mediation, collaboration, and conflict resolution. They are also well known for their work in public lands policy, water law and policy, land-use planning, and cross-boundary resource management.

Committment to Diversity

The Alexander Blewett III School of Law at the University of Montana is committed to creating a learning environment that encourages, enriches and respects the multidimensional aspects of diversity. Diversity includes, but is not limited to, differences based on race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation or background, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, age, economic class or status, points of view, or disabilities. Recognizing that the quality of legal education is enhanced by a diverse educational community, the Blewett School of Law is committed to recruiting and retaining students, faculty, staff and administrators capable of creating a safe, vibrant, diverse, engaging and intellectually stimulating learning environment. This educational environment reinforces and models the principle that diversity is an integral part of learning and the competent, people-oriented practice of law.

About UM

UM is a flagship public doctoral research institution that sits in the aboriginal territories of the Salish and Kalispell people. A research-intensive institution that grants associate to doctoral degrees, UM is committed to accessible and inclusive education as the foundation of social and economic prosperity. A viable democracy relies on citizens who are broadly educated and specifically skilled, and is enriched by diversity in thought, background, appearance and beliefs. Ranked sixth nationwide for research growth, UM’s research expenditures nearly doubled between 2014 and 2019 and are expected to reach $125 million this fiscal year. This emphasis provides undergraduate students with the singular opportunity to participate in active research with top researchers and scholars.

UM's long tradition of teaching excellence and experiential learning evidences our commitment to student success. The University ranks fifth among public universities in producing Rhodes Scholars, currently has the highest graduate student enrollment in its history, and, in the fall of 2021, welcomed the largest incoming freshman class in several years. Summer enrollment and out-of-state applications have grown by 40% in recent years. UM’s student retention rate rose from 68.5% in 2018 to 75.4% in 2021. Students have access to a diverse and growing set of work-based and experiential learning opportunities, as part of a strong institutional commitment to creating the best possible set of post-graduate outcomes. UM is investing substantially in the on-campus experience. Over $100 million has been allocated to renovate campus facilities, including sustainability upgrades.

UM is an essential part of Missoula, a culturally vibrant college town characterized by scenic beauty, a socially engaged community, and a healthy economy. Our commitment to place-based, applied experiences ensures our students reap the benefits of a large flagship institution in an intimate setting. This setting attracts talent to the University of Montana community, where arts, culture and academics shape the formative years of a student population that is 40% first-generation. With a deep focus on experiential learning, we believe some of the most profound learning experiences occur beyond the classroom. Experiential learning at UM happens not only in the outdoors but also in community and social settings. UM is part of a global community, and actively recruits and enrolls students from all over the world, as well as provides a range of opportunities for students to study abroad.

About Missoula

UM is located in Missoula, a small, vibrant community of about 75,000, surrounded by mountains, wilderness and clear, cold rivers. The educational, medical, and cultural hub of the region, Missoula offers a rare blend of outdoor adventure, big-city culture, and exceptional quality of life. The vibrant downtown community embraces the state’s most sophisticated music and art scene and includes a new public library that houses the Families First Learning Lab, UM’s Spectrum science museum, and the UM Living Lab. Just east of Missoula is the KettleHouse Amphitheater, ranking No. 45 out of the top 50 amphitheaters worldwide by Pollstar.

Postion Description

Reporting directly to the Provost and Executive Vice President, the dean is the chief academic and administrative officer for the Blewett School of Law. The dean is responsible for administering the School's departments and programs, including maintaining accreditation by the American Bar Association (ABA) and the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs and Administration (NASPAA), developing and implementing strategies to enhance academic innovation and quality, recruiting students and members of the faculty and staff, and managing organizational and financial structures that promote excellence in teaching, research and service.  The dean will maintain and build upon relationships with the legal and public administration and policy communities in the state of Montana and greater region.  As an Academic Officer, the dean is expected to collaborate with other academic deans and University leaders, in providing strategic long-term direction for Academic Affairs. The successful candidate will forge connections across campus and will build meaningful connections with external stakeholders including alumni, donors, employers, community members, and other academic, legal, government, nonprofit, and business leaders.

The position has an expected starting date of July 1, 2022 or sooner.  For more information about this search, please visit: https://www.umt.edu/provost/hiring/lawdean/default.php

Required Qualifications

  • Demonstrated vision for and commitment to justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion
  • Demonstrated ability to lead complex organizations including the ability to foster collaboration
  • Demonstrated administrative experience, including budgeting and personnel supervision
  • Outstanding listening, communication, and consensus-building skills
  • Commitment to student success
  • Distinguished professional achievement in legal practice and/or public service
  • A J.D. degree from an ABA-accredited law school

Preferred Qualifications

  • A commitment to innovative and distinctive education and scholarship
  • Commitment to recruiting and retaining talented students, faculty, and staff
  • Demonstrated success in fundraising and external outreach 
  • Ability to earn tenure in the Blewett School of Law at the rank of Full Professor
  • Familiarity with law and policy issues of the Rocky Mountain West
  • Commitment to strengthening relationships with Indigenous communities 
  • MPA or equivalent experience in public administration and policy

Nominations and Applications

For best consideration, applications should be received by February 22, 2022, and must include:

  1. A letter of interest;
  2. A current CV or résumé;
  3. The names, addresses, telephone numbers, and email addresses for five (5) professional references, including a brief description of your relationship to that individual, who will be contacted only after candidates are notified.

Application materials should be sent electronically (MS Word or PDF format) to: MontanaDeanLaw@agbsearch.com

Please direct nominations and inquiries to:

Richard A. Wueste, J.D., Executive Search Consultant, richard.wueste@agbsearch.com / (540) 431-5131

Kimberly Templeton, J.D., Principal, kimberly.templeton@agbsearch.com / (540) 761-9494

References not listed on the application materials may be contacted; notice will be provided to the applicant. 

Criminal Background Investigation is required prior to Offer of Employment. In accordance with university policy, finalists for this position will be subject to criminal background investigations.

Reasonable accommodations are provided in the hiring process for persons with disabilities. For example, this material is available in alternative format upon request. As an Equal Opportunity/ Affirmative Action employer, we encourage applications from minorities, veterans, and women. Qualified candidates may request veterans’ or disabilities preference in accordance with state law. All New Employees must be eligible and show employment eligibility verification by the first date of employment at UM, as legally required (e.g., Form I-9).