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University of California at Berkeley’s School of Law dean Erwin Chemerinsky has been reappointed to the position, university officials announced.

Chemerinsky was reappointed to a second five-year term following what university officials describe as a “stellar record of success.”

Chemerinsky became dean in July 2017, following a challenging four years when the school had four deans and interim deans.

“Despite some major challenges, I believe the law school has gotten stronger and better over the last four years.”

Erwin Chemerinsky, Berkeley Law dean

During Chemerinsky’s four-plus years as dean, he has made the law school more stable financially, increased student diversity, faculty ranks, experiential offerings, and help for students and recent graduates seeking careers serving the public, university officials said.

“It has been a tremendous honor and pleasure,” Chemerinsky said in a statement. “Berkeley Law is a unique and special institution. By every measure, it’s an excellent law school and distinguished by an unwavering commitment to public service and an extraordinary community.

“Despite some major challenges, I believe the law school has gotten stronger and better over the last four years,” he said.

The right leader for hard times

UC Berkeley’s School of Law was among the top when Chemerinsky arrived from the University of California at Irvine, where he served as dean from 2008 to 2017.

But the lack of stable leadership in Berkeley created challenges for administrators and for coordination among various parts of the school.

“The law school had been through some hard times, and a key objective in my first couple of years was to improve morale,” Chemerinsky said. “The culture of any institution is the product of many choices, and concrete steps were taken to enhance transparency, collaboration, and community.”

Before Chemerinsky arrived, the school had to cut its budget and laid off employees. But since he took over, most of the funding has been restored and no one has been laid off.

Berkeley Law Dean Erwin Chemerinsky shares a laugh with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan during a Sept. 23, 2019, interview at Zellerbach Hall. (Photo by Jim Block/Berkeley Law via Bay City News)

Chemerinsky has also taken steps to increase diversity among students, faculty, and senior administrators.

Nine of the 16 faculty hired since he took the helm are people of color and the number of Black students in the incoming classes has increased to 43 this year from 12 the year he was appointed.

The school has also increased its enrollment of Latinx and Native American students. Sixty percent of its student population are women, the most at any top 20 law school, university officials said.

Also, under Chemerinsky’s leadership, the school has a broader public interest reach, with more than 90 percent of students performing pro bono work during their studies.

A household name

Based on a recent four-year study of legal publications, Chemerinsky is the most frequently cited American legal scholar.

He’s been named the most influential person in legal education in the U.S. by National Jurist and starting this month, he will serve for a year as president of the Association of American Law Schools.

Despite his accomplishments, Chemerinsky remains kind and humane, people who work with him say.

“Erwin combines a superhuman capacity for hard and brilliant work with an extraordinarily humane attitude toward everyone with whom he interacts,” Professor Molly Van Houweling, Berkeley Law’s associate dean of J.D. Curriculum and teaching, said in a statement.

“I’ve never met anyone more capable and kind, nor fully appreciated before how rare and wonderful it is for those characteristics to be combined in a leader,” Van Houweling said.