December 09, 2009

Three finalists under consideration for law dean

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- There are three finalists for dean of the Southern Illinois University School of Law.

The finalists are Richard A. Bales, a professor with Northern Kentucky University’s Salmon P. Chase College of Law in Highland Heights, Ky.; Cynthia L. Fountaine, a professor at Texas Wesleyan University School of Law in Fort Worth, Texas; and Elizabeth A. Reilly, associate dean of academic affairs at the University of Akron School of Law in Akron, Ohio.

Each of the finalists spent two days interviewing on Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s campus, participating in candidate presentations and meeting with faculty, staff, students, alumni and University officials. Fountaine and Reilly visited the campus last week; Bales visited the campus Tuesday and today (Dec. 9).

“We are very pleased with the candidates that we have,” said law professor W. Eugene Basanta, the Southern Illinois Healthcare Professor of Law, and search committee chair. “The three finalists who emerged we believe are very strong candidates.”

The candidates discussed their vision of legal education and what the law school will look like under their respective leadership, Basanta said.

The new dean will replace Peter C. Alexander, who resigned June 30 from the post he held since 2003. Frank G. Houdek, associate dean for academic affairs, became interim dean July 1, with the expectation a new dean will be in place by July 1, 2010.

The new dean will be the seventh permanent dean in the law school’s 37-year history, dating back to its founding in 1973. Basanta said he believes this is the first time that women are among the finalists.

More than 25 candidates applied for the post. The 10-member search committee narrowed the field to the three finalists just before Thanksgiving. The search committee will meet Monday to review input received from the three visits. The law school faculty will meet Tuesday to consider the search committee’s input and the candidates. Don S. Rice, interim provost and vice chancellor, will then receive a recommendation, Basanta said.

Bales is director of the law school’s Chase Advocacy Center. He came to Northern Kentucky University’s law school in 1998, initially as assistant professor, then associate professor, before becoming a full professor in 2003. Bales served as the law school’s interim dean in 2006, and associate dean for faculty development from 2007 to 2009.

Prior to arriving at Northern Kentucky University, Bales was a visiting assistant professor at the University of Montana Law School, a visiting assistant professor at the Southern Methodist University Law School, and an adjunct professor at the University of Houston Law Center.

According to his biography, Bales also litigated employment cases as an associate with the Houston-based Baker & Botts law firm, and Cleveland-based Baker & Hostetler. Bales earned his law degree magna cum laude from Cornell Law School in 1993. He earned his bachelor’s degree in political science from Trinity University.

Fountaine is currently on leave from Texas Wesleyan School of Law as a Fulbright Senior Scholar for 2009-2010 at Universität Bayreuth School of Law, Business & Economics in Bayreuth, Germany, where she is teaching U.S. Common Law and U.S. Common Law methodology to German law students, according to her biography.

She came to Texas Wesleyan School of Law in 1997 as an associate professor and director of academic support. She became a full professor in 2001, and served as the law school’s interim dean and professor from 2006 to 2008.

Prior to arriving at Texas Wesleyan School of Law, Fountaine was an instructor at the University of Cincinnati College of Law from 1992 to 1997. She also was a visiting professor in 2005-2006 at the Washington & Lee University School of Law in Lexington,Va.

Prior to teaching, Fountaine was a litigation associate from 1988 to 1991 with the Los Angeles-based law firm O’Melveny & Myers. She earned her law degree from the University of Southern California Gould School of Law in 1988, and a bachelor’s degree in business from Indiana University in Bloomington, Ind., in 1984.

Reilly served as associate dean of academic affairs at the University of Akron School of Law for the past 14 years, and is the C. Blake McDowell, Jr. Professor of Law since 1999. She began her academic teaching career as an adjunct professor at the law school in 1980, and became an assistant professor of law in 1984. She served as associate professor of law for four years and became a professor in 1992.

Prior to her work at the University of Akron School of Law, Reilly was an attorney with the firm Whitaker & Reilly from 1978 to 1984.

Reilly earned her law degree from the University of Akron School of Law in 1978, graduating first in her class. According to her biography, Reilly was a member of the first class of women to attend Princeton University, where she majored in English language and literature, earning a bachelor’s degree in 1973.