After Dean Cole officially ends his term as Dean of our beloved law school, our laid-back San Diego will be welcoming an East Coast elite to man the helm of our legal community. It might take some time for the University of San Diego legal community to convince an East Coaster to become a Chargers or Padres fan, but these candidates seem very open and accepting to change and new experiences. After a short few years, I am confident that any residue of an East Coast background shall be but a far and distant memory for our next Dean. The siren’s call for full immersion into the San Diego lifestyle is too seductive to ignore.
The Dean candidates do exhibit some similarities. They are both from the East Coast and attended and graduated with honors from Princeton University and attended Yale Law School. Further, each candidate has published a number of finance, corporate, and public policy writings across the globe. Both essentially work on the East Coast: one in Washington D.C. and one in Atlanta, Georgia. However, these competitive candidates exhibit distinctive professional backgrounds and unique personalities.
Dean Robert Ahdieh (Aw-dee-ay) is currently the Associate Dean of Faculty & Professor of Law at Emory University School of Law.
Mr. Nicholas Allard is currently a Partner at Patton Boggs, LLP, where he is the Co-Chair of the Public Policy and Administrative Law Department.
My biggest fear with the respective candidates stemmed from my love for free food. I wanted to ensure that the next Dean of USD Law would continue the tradition of the Dean’s Monthly Mixer. Have no fear, these candidates are very willing and excited to interact with students; Dean’s Mixers will continue. Both candidates are comical, charming, and illustrative speakers. Each has his own personal flair and demeanor and is open and interested in connecting with law students and faculty. Both have noted that they intend to have an “open door policy” and truly hope to have the opportunity of getting to know the students and faculty on a personal level.
Throughout his presentation, Dean Ahdieh distributed and devoured nearly half a dozen cookies. If Dean Ahdieh became the Dean of our law school, delicious cookies may be a common staple at law school events. This is a bonus, because as most law students know, successful law school events generally stem from free and delicious foods. Dean Ahdieh is an animated speaker to say the least: He likes to make jokes, enjoys laughing, and speaks with his hands in a very voracious manner. Dean Ahdieh speaks with confidence and is comfortable speaking in front of large groups of students and answering questions on the fly. His style of speech has an interesting flair of passion and hand motions. While answering questions, Dean Ahdieh enjoys intertwining laughter and comedy to better engage his audience and explain his thoughts. Furthermore, I can see Dean Ahdieh at the Battle of the Brains competition using an answer from Dean Cole’s playbook. If he did not know the answer to the question, Dean Ahdieh is the most likely person to answer with something similar to Cole’s infamous “Chlamydia” response. Further, he seems to be able to laugh at a moment’s notice, as seen during his question and answer session. He laughed when asked if he liked steak or sushi. He later agreed with a student’s suggestion of “Surf and Turf” because it would offer bothfood types to encompass the needs of everyone. Though he did not comment on his softball abilities, he did note that he enjoys surfing. Maybe we can start a legal surf team with Dean Ahdieh leading the charge.
As a New Yorker, Mr. Allard notes that he would like to be the Dean of USD Law “for the waters” (quoting Casabalanca). Mr. Allard, a D.C. lobbyist, resembles Capitol Hill royalty. (Well, as much of a royal figure that a non-politician could become in D.C.) Mr. Allard is a confident, frank, and skilled speaker. He speaks candidly and answers questions in a very direct and open manner, while remaining focused and narrow in his scope. Mr. Allard does not use an IRAC formation, but rather CAR. His style of speech includes a clear conclusion followed with elaborations on his ideas and ending with a qualification of where he received his ideas. This style of speech was easy to identify when Mr. Allard answered with an emphatic “absolutely” when asked whether he could lead a faculty softball team; he further explained his experience on the field, and qualified his assertion by noting the different articles published in D.C. that highlighted his experience coaching and playing with friends. He knows for certain that he could lead the faculty softball team to a massacre of any law student intramural team. However, the one caveat to this certain victory involves Mrs. Marla Allard. If Mr. Allard’s lovely and enthusiastic wife were to play for the law student team, it was noted that she would be the one dominating the field. During a 1L versus Faculty softball match, it seems that the faculty will likely dominate any first-year law student because Mr. Allard, a southpaw, does not lose. Following any sports match, Mr. Allard would likely meet everyone at a restaurant that serves sashimi for appetizers with lots of wasabi and a nice steak for a main course. During a Women’s Law Caucus auction, he would auction off theater tickets or dinner with distinguished USD Law alumni. Due to his political capital, Mr. Allard notes that he would not even have to bend the arms of a few U.S. Senators to fly out to San Diego to meet and dine with students.
Each of the candidates brings a very specific personality to the law school. The key question is whether one candidate best embodies the vision of our faculty and students and fits within the internal culture of USD Law. The University Of San Diego Provost has a tough decision to make.