Expressing gratitude for Jennifer Brown's leadership

By Provost Debra J. Liebowitz August 30, 2023

Headshot of Jennifer Brown

Jennifer Brown has decided to step down as dean of the School of Law, effective June 30, 2024, as she looks to focus more on teaching and research.

I am delighted that Jennifer plans to return to the faculty as a tenured professor in the School of Law for the Spring 2025 semester after taking a well-deserved sabbatical during the Fall 2024 semester.

I want to thank Jennifer for her innovative and passionate leadership and ingraining her mantra “to educate the whole lawyer to understand and serve the whole client” into the law school’s mission. In many ways – big and small – Jennifer has led students, faculty, staff and alumni at the law school to put this mission into practice.

Since being named dean in 2013, Jennifer has led the law school through a decade of significant change, including a move from Mount Carmel to North Haven, the hiring of nearly 1/3 of the full-time faculty, and the development of new faculty roles such as Distinguished Practitioners in Residence, all while diversifying its faculty and student body.

During Jennifer’s tenure as dean, the law faculty and staff have enriched and expanded the school’s curriculum, launching three new concentrations in international law, workplace law, and cybersecurity and information privacy law. They also introduced several innovative initiatives, including “The Bridge to Practice,” a signature set of programs designed to contextualize students’ legal education in a holistic, problem-solving model. Jennifer has promoted a high-touch, personal approach to students that is now a part of the law school’s DNA.

The law school has concentrated its effort on recruiting committed and academically talented students with an interest in ensuring access to justice for all. When Jennifer became dean in July 2013, the incoming class for that fall numbered 84 students, with only 17% of those students identified as members of communities underrepresented in the legal profession. As she begins her final year as dean, the law school will welcome a first-year class of 111 students, 27% of whom identify as underrepresented in law and 30% of whom are first-generation college graduates.

Perhaps the most distinctive and impactful aspect of Jennifer’s tenure has been her unflagging insistence that students should “continue to feel like human beings as they learn to think like lawyers.” To that end, she has worked with staff and faculty to offer a myriad of wellness resources, including mindfulness meditation training, organizational leadership training, and breakfast and lunch at the July Connecticut Bar Exam. She is especially proud of “Beginners’ Wisdom,” a 24-hour, off-campus retreat organized and facilitated by Jennifer and student leaders to focus on the integration of personal and professional values.

Over the last decade, and thanks in large part to Jennifer’s efforts, the law school has raised over $13.5 million in philanthropic funds through gifts, grants, pledges and planned giving commitments. A seven-figure gift to the law school created the Waring and Carmen Partridge Faculty Fellows. A second very generous gift from the Partridges endowed the Bridge to Practice Program, so the law school’s signature program and its larger focus on professional development can be supported and strengthened in perpetuity. Alumna Lynne L. Pantalena has generously worked with the law school to create endowed funds supporting both student scholarships and faculty excellence.

The significance of this fundraising will be evident in the law school for posterity, as the law school has raised naming gifts for the Lynne L. Pantalena Law Library, the Alexander M. Meiklejohn Classroom, and several other named spaces, each of which represents a generous and impactful gift, usually creating student scholarships.

It is not only the law school’s endowment that has grown under Jennifer’s leadership. In the past decade, the law school has benefited from nearly $3 million in grants from the Internal Revenue Service, the Vital Projects Fund, The Yale Sappern Memorial Fund, The Launders Trust, The Mellon Foundation, the Connecticut Department of Housing, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. And gifts for current use – particularly to the Dean’s Discretionary Fund – have also grown exponentially.

Recognizing her leadership skills and sincere love for Quinnipiac, President Olian asked Jennifer to serve as interim executive vice president and provost from June 2019 through July 2020.

Serving as the university’s chief academic officer in the year that COVID struck put Jennifer at the center of decision-making with serious consequences for safety, student success and the university’s financial sustainability.

The university has retained the firm of Korn Ferry to assist with the search for the school’s next dean. I am pleased that Holly Raider, dean of the School of Business, has agreed to lead a national search for a new School of Law dean. We hope to have the new dean in place by July 1, 2024. This is a vital role for QU, and I am grateful to Jennifer for her continued collaboration. 

I look forward to celebrating Jennifer’s many accomplishments as dean in the months ahead, along with the QU community. Please join me in thanking Jennifer for her innovative and passionate leadership and her continued engagement with our law students.

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