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New dean promotes IU McKinney as national leader

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For its next dean, the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law has tapped one of its own.

Andrew R. Klein, the Paul E. Beam Professor of Law at McKinney and chief of staff in the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis Chancellor’s Cabinet, has been appointed dean of the Indianapolis-based law school. He will begin his new position July 1, pending approval of the I.U. board of trustees.

With his pedigree in teaching and administration, Klein assumes the top job after being on the faculty at McKinney for 13 years. He will oversee a law school with a 100-plus-year history and 1,100 alumni – several of whom hold top leadership positions, including in Indiana the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Senate Pro Tem President, three members of the Indiana Supreme Court, four members of Congress, and the governor.

klein Klein

“The McKinney School has educated many of the state’s political and professional leaders, and I am confident that the school will continue to play a critical role in legal education in Indiana under Andy’s guidance,” I.U. President Michael A. McRobbie stated in a press release.

Klein is walking into the dean’s office at a time when enrollment in law schools across the country is declining and legal education, in general, is under heavy criticism as being overpriced and not providing experiential learning that students need to practice law.

Yet he is undeterred and, in fact, remains bullish about McKinney. The educator readily pointed out the programs, traditions and scholarship that he maintained not only set the school apart but make it a national leader.

“I have a vision of the school as being a model of what legal education should be like in the 21st century,” Klein said. “We’re already doing a lot of the things people say law schools should do. We’re a model for law schools around the country.”

Into the classroom

The university announced Klein’s appointment the morning of March 19 and a few hours later his email inbox was overflowing with congratulatory messages from colleagues and friends around the country. Catching his breath in the late afternoon, he called the day a whirlwind.

Klein, 50, will become the 12th dean of the McKinney Law School since it became part of I.U. in 1944. He is replacing the current dean, Gary Roberts, who will be stepping down in June to comply with university policy that all deans leave the office when they reach the age of 65.

McRobbie noted Klein is well suited to advancing the research, education and civic engagement of the law school.

“Andy has made exceptional contributions to both the McKinney School of Law and the development of the IUPUI campus during his tenure, and his expertise, leadership and experience make him an outstanding choice as the next dean,” McRobbie stated.

Klein arrived at McKinney as a visiting professor in the fall of 1999. He was on the faculty at Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law in Birmingham, Ala., and when he got the offer to teach full time at the Indianapolis school, he jumped.

The Chicago native described I.U. as a great university and the downtown Indianapolis location as a great campus. Joining the faculty, he said, gave him the opportunity to work at a major research institution and a terrific law school.

Klein took a step into administration when he served as associate dean for academic affairs from 2004 to 2007. In 2010, he was named chief of staff of the Chancellor’s Cabinet where he handled a range of duties including oversight of the IUPUI intercollegiate athletics program.

Two years later he became the associate vice chancellor for academic affairs.

Having the administrative experience will help his transition into the dean’s chair at the law school. Yet, he still hopes to maintain his connection to the classroom by teaching one class a year.

“One thing I’ve never tried to hide is the fact I enjoy being in the classroom,” Klein said. “It is a privilege and tremendous opportunity to introduce students to this wonderful profession.”

Klein was encouraged to think of an academic career by his teachers and mentors at Emory University School of Law. After receiving his J.D. with distinction in 1988, he clerked for Judge Joseph W. Hatchett of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit. Then he worked as an associate at Sidley Austin LLP in Chicago from 1989 to 1992.

He left private practice for teaching in 1992. Klein said he finds the interaction with the students to be rewarding, and he likes the scholarship aspect of researching and writing about an issue.

His work inside and outside the classroom at McKinney has earned praise from colleagues and students. He has received five teaching awards, three faculty leadership awards, two outstanding administrator awards and the I.U. Trustees Teaching Award.

I.U. Executive Vice President Charles R. Bantz pointed to Klein’s work as a teacher as a distinguishing factor in his selection for the top position.

“By conducting a national search with excellent candidates, it became crystal clear that Andy Klein has everything a law dean needs,” Bantz stated in a press release. “He is a recognized scholar, a devoted teacher, an experienced law school administrator and a member of the national professional organizations, and he has tremendous educational experience.”

Agenda as dean

On the day his appointment was announced, Klein sent a note to faculty members, and in the weeks before he becomes dean he wants to talk to the professors before he sets his agenda.

However, even as McKinney fell to No. 98 in the recently released law school rankings from U.S. News & World Report, Klein again pointed to the curriculum and offerings already in place which can position the school to be a leader.

Klein said he wants the school to do better, but he continued to outline what he sees as the school’s strengths that paint a different picture from the rankings.

In particular, he noted McKinney has placed an emphasis on legal writing which, along with health care law, earned the school a No. 10 ranking in each of those specific areas by U.S. News. Also, the school provides students with numerous opportunities for hands-on experiences through many legal clinics and externships.

Its downtown location in Indiana’s capital city not only provides students with the opportunities and experiences they cannot get anywhere else but also allows the school to foster strong relationships in the community.

As he takes over the leadership of the school, Klein emphasized he also wants build and maintain the institution’s connections throughout the city, the state and the country.

“The McKinney School of Law is one of Indiana’s most important assets – a training ground for so many of our state’s leaders, and for outstanding lawyers around the world,” Klein said on the day his appointment was announced. “I plan to do everything in my power to earn the trust that Indiana University has placed in me. And I am excited about working hand in hand with the tremendous faculty, excellent students and many loyal alumni who share my enthusiasm for our school.”•

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