|Kathleen Sullivan, a nationally eminent constitutional law scholar, will
become the dean of Stanford University Law School Sept. 1.
Sullivan, 43, was chosen from
a short list of Stanford law professors after a five-month search.
"She is everything one could ask for in a dean: an outstanding teacher and
scholar, an active lawyer and a public intellectual," said Stanford president Gerhard
Casper, himself a constitutional scholar who helped recruit Sullivan from Harvard
University Law School six years ago.
Sullivan is a
popular professor at Stanford, and has continued to practice law while teaching, as well
as providing commentary on television news and public affairs programming and in the pages
of the New York Times.
Calling Stanford "a magnificent law school," Sullivan said she was
"deeply honored and greatly excited to have been asked to assume its
She succeeds Paul Brest, who will return to teaching after 12 years as dean. Brest
called Sullivan "a brilliant choice to assure Stanford Law School's preeminence in
the 21st century."
Sullivan's appointment as the Richard E. Lang Professor of Law and Dean follows other
accomplishments at an early age. She began teaching at Harvard, where she earned her law
degree, at age 29 and earned tenure there at 33.
She was first mentioned in national legal publications as a future Supreme Court
nominee at age 36 and was appointed the first Stanley Morrison Professor of Law at
Stan-ford when she was 41.
An influential constitutional law scholar, Sullivan has published widely and is an
active appellate litigator, arguing numerous cases in the federal and state courts and two
in the Supreme Court.
She wrote an amicus brief on behalf of President Clinton in the Paula Jones case.
Last year, the National Law Journal named Sullivan one of the "Fifty Most
Influential Women Lawyers in America" and California Law Business included her in its
list of top 100 attorneys in the state.
Sullivan assumes the position of dean at a time when Stanford faces a federal
investigation of discrimination complaints from 15 female professors and researchers.
The U.S. Labor Department is looking into charges that the university violates federal
anti-discrimination law in the hiring and promotion of women.
Stanford has more than $500 million in federal contracts that could be in jeopardy if
violations are proven.
Sullivan was a protege of Harvard constitutional scholar Laurence H. Tribe. They worked
together as co-counsel on several Supreme Court cases.
At Stanford, she co-authored the 13th edition of Constitutional Law, by Professor
Emeritus Gerald Gunther, who in 1997 described Sullivan as "the most brilliant
analyst and best teacher in the field, period."
Sullivan also wrote First Amendment Law with Gunther and New Federalist Papers: Essays
in Defense of the Constitution.
Always a teacher
But it is teaching which has always been at the center of her career plans. As an
undergraduate at Cornell, Sullivan planned to teach literature.
Then came the Watergate hearings, the "brief moment when lawyers were
heroes," she said. She changed plans and applied to law school. The "law seemed
to be a place where you could devote moral energy."
So respected in the classroom is Sullivan that she won Stanford's John Bingham Hurlburt
Award for excellence in teaching.
At Harvard, she received the first-ever Albert M. Sacks-Paul A. Freund Award for
Teaching Excellence in 1992, even though she spent the spring of that year as a visiting
professor at Stanford.
"I think it was clear among our class that Professor Sullivan brought a certain
freshness to the classroom and a tremendous amount of energy," said Ross Antonson, a
member of that class at Harvard.
Sullivan received her undergraduate degree at Cornell, went to Oxford on a Marshall
Scholarship and earned another B.A. in philosophy, politics and economics.
After earning her law degree in 1981, she clerked for Judge James L. Oakes on the U.S.
Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and practiced law in Boston for two years before
returning to teach at Harvard in 1984.