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Haddon to step down as UM law dean

University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law Dean Phoebe A. Haddon has decided to step down next year to concentrate more on fundraising and writing a book.

Phoebe A. Haddon

Phoebe A. Haddon (File photo)

Haddon will not renew her five-year contract and will serve as dean through the end of the 2013-2014 academic year.

Haddon will take a brief sabbatical, then return as a member of the faculty in fall 2014.

“I hadn’t made a commitment beyond five years,” Haddon said. “I love the day-to-day aspect of the job. I was taking it a year at a time. This seemed to be a good time to reflect on what I would like to do, if anything else, from being a dean. This seems to be a great time to do that.”

Haddon is the first African-American and second woman to serve as dean at the law school.

While she had already gotten a few emails expressing surprise Friday afternoon, “I don’t think people are surprised I want to go back to a faculty position and do other things before I move off into the sunset,” Haddon said Friday afternoon. “I’ve got a few more good years in me.”

She will turn 63 in August.

“These are really challenging times for law schools, and I want to devote my attention to fundraising and seeking out some additional support as I have in the past,” she said, “but I’m more focused on a way to help preserve the financial path of law students.”

She said she also wants to spend time writing a book she has been meaning to pen since before she took the dean post. The book is on the Keyes v. School District No. 1 decision in Colorado, which dealt with segregation in public schools in an area in Denver. Haddon’s aunt served on the school board during that time.

Haddon said she thought it was not unusual for law deans to serve shorter terms in recent years.

“I have to say, in days past, deans often stayed for five, 10, 15 years,” Haddon said. “That’s not the usual approach these days. The usual is less than a term. I’m glad to fulfill my tenure as dean and turn to other things.”

Haddon’s predecessor, Karen Rothenberg, remained in the post for just under a decade, also notifying the school a year in advance of her decision to return to teaching.

Details about the search for Haddon’s successor were not available late Friday, a school spokesman said.

“I think very highly of her,” said University of Baltimore School of Law Dean Ronald Weich. “It was a privilege to be her colleague and I am sorry that we have only one more year to work together.”

During her time as dean, Haddon counts the acquisition of a $30 million gift from the W. P. Carey Foundation as one of her biggest accomplishments. The gift was the largest in the school’s history and the law school was renamed as a result.

She also considers one of her main achievements to be the law school’s ranking, which rose several spots and remains among the top 50 in U.S. News & World Report.

She also helped start an international law clinic in 2010 in which students travel to countries like Mexico, where they represent migrant workers; or Namibia, where they might provide legal assistance to anyone from entrepreneurs, to women who were sterilized without their consent, to people seeking access to clean water.

During her final year, Haddon said, she wants to concentrate on increasing scholarships for law school students.

“All law schools are facing a tremendous pressure in terms of enrollment,” Haddon said. “I want to make the law school affordable through some scholarship support. … It’s my real commitment to try to keep this law school accessible and competitive.”

Haddon has served on a task force for the University System of Maryland that studied a merger between the university’s Baltimore and College Park campuses. Through that work, the law school is planning undergraduate and graduate law-oriented programs in College Park.

“Dean Haddon’s leadership in securing this transformative naming gift will leave a mark on the legal profession and this university for generations to come,” said University of Maryland, Baltimore President Jay A. Perman. “Dean Haddon is a deeply thoughtful leader and a staunch advocate for legal education. She has taught me much on these issues and I have deeply valued her counsel.”

Haddon was involved in controversy last year over the law school’s Environmental Law Clinic’s involvement in a case against Salisbury-based Perdue Farms Inc. and one of its farmers alleging it had violated the Clean Water Act.

When Gov. Martin O’Malley criticized what he called “costly” litigation and misuse of state resources, Haddon fired back, saying O’Malley shouldn’t interfere and should let the litigation go forward.

Haddon also speaks nationally about the state of legal education, the challenges law schools face and diversity in the legal profession.

“I don’t know if we all appreciate this in Maryland, but I’ve seen [Haddon] at national conferences and she is a leader in the field of deaning,” Weich said. “She is seen as very principled and very creative and very student-focused.”

Haddon said she still plans to be involved in the national conversation about the state of legal education with decreasing law school enrollment and student debt.

“I’m someone who thinks law school is a very, very valuable asset but debt and tuition increases make that increasingly harder,” Haddon said. “I think people understand that there needs to be change in legal education period. I want to be involved in defining what that future might be, but some of that can be done without being a dean.”

Haddon has written two casebooks on constitutional law and tort law. She has also written scholarly articles on jury participation, equal protection academic freedom and diversity.

In 2011, she received the Great Teacher Award from the Society of American Law Teachers.

Haddon became dean at UM Carey in 2009, after teaching constitutional and tort law at Temple University James E. Beasley School of Law in Philadelphia for 28 years. Before her academic career, she worked at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP in Washington, D.C.

She attended Duquesne University School of Law in 1977 and received her LLM from Yale Law School in 1985. She has a bachelor’s degree from Smith College in Northampton, Mass.

“This is a way of … moving into the next stage,” Haddon said. “I really want to emphasize I’ve got a great year ahead. I’m not going away.”

s faculty in fall 2014.