Pitt Law dean Carter to step down, leaving Pitt a second dean position to fill


Pitt Law Dean William Carter will step down after the 2017-2018 academic year. (Pitt News File Photo)

The dean of Pitt’s law school, William M. Carter Jr., is stepping down to return to teaching full-time, becoming the second Pitt dean ending their tenure next spring.

Carter’s decision comes soon after engineering dean Gerald Holder announced in May he will step down and return to the faculty. Carter and Holder will leave their positions as dean after the 2017-2018 academic year.

“I just feel that, after what will be six years of service … it’s time for me to return to full-time teaching,” Carter told the Tribune-Review.

Carter, 46, began as dean in 2012 and has overseen the formation of two new institutes — the Institute for Cyber Law, Policy & Security and the Energy Law & Policy Institute — as well as six new legal clinics and practicums at Pitt Law.

In a letter sent to the Pitt community, Provost Patricia Beeson pointed out the law school’s increased rankings since 2012. The school is now ranked 50th by legal employers and 37th in graduate employment at the nation’s largest law firms, the letter said. Additionally, law school applications increased by 15 percent, as national applications dropped by about 40 percent.

Though some of Pitt Law’s rankings have increased during Carter’s tenure, US News and World Reports’ 2018 rankings place Pitt 82nd among U.S. law schools, down from 71st in 2012.

Among Carter’s goals when he was hired, he said he wanted to increase Pitt’s bar passage rate — 83 percent for first time takers in 2012. Though that number jumped substantially in 2014 to 90 percent, the passage rate fell to 76 percent in 2016, lower than Penn State and Temple.

Carter arrived at Pitt in 2012 after teaching at Case Western University and Temple. He is well-known in the field for his work dealing with the Thirteenth Amendment. The first African-American dean at the law school, he said in 2012 he hoped his hiring would “project a statement about the commitment of Pitt’s law school to equal opportunity.”

University spokesperson Joe Miksch expressed Pitt’s gratitude for Carter’s work as dean.

“The University respects his decision and is grateful for his accomplishments as dean, which include guiding the school to advances in teaching, research, and public service,” he said. “It is of great benefit to Pitt that he will continue to contribute to the school as a faculty member.”

Chancellor Patrick Gallagher said the law school made “strides forward by many measures” during Carter’s tenure.

“We shall miss his guidance, but we embrace his return to the classroom where he will continue to make a difference,” Gallagher said.

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