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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, March 15, 2003

Nominee for UH law dean approved

By Zenaida Serrano Espanol and Beverly Creamer
Advertiser Staff Writers

The University of Hawai'i Board of Regents yesterday approved the appointment of Aviam Soifer as dean of the University of Hawai'i William S. Richardson School of Law.

Beadie Kanahele Dawson, who chaired the selection committee, called it "an amazing new chapter" for the law school.

Soifer, professor and former dean at Boston College Law School, has a national reputation as a scholar. He graduated from Yale Law School and received a master's degree in urban studies and a bachelor's degree in American Studies, cum laude, from Yale College.

His extensive publications include "Law and the Company We Keep" (Harvard University Press, 1995) which was awarded the triennial Alpha Sigma Nu National Jesuit Book Prize in professional studies in 1998.

"The fact that we have attracted a person of Avi Soifer's credentials speaks volumes about our national reputation," said UH President Evan Dobelle.

Soifer will join the university July 1, at a salary of $254,000. He succeeds Lawrence C. Foster, who led the law school for 15 years before resigning as dean last year to return to teaching. Foster specializes in law reform issues in Asia and the Pacific.

UH-Manoa chancellor Peter Englert called Soifer "an active scholar-researcher and that is essential to reaffirming the university's place as a top caliber national research institution."

Dawson said Soifer is not only a scholar "but he brings us national stature — with an incredible track record of deanship and scholarship and fund-raising.

"He made a huge hit with everyone he met here and has been well-liked at every school he has served at. His enthusiasm and capabilities will soar us to new heights. He will hit the deck running, he's that kind of energetic, enthusiastic person. I imagine he will set some things in motion even before he arrives."

Dawson said Soifer has been a successful fund-raiser and that will be a big part of his job here. "It's something he enjoys and does very well."

"I am extremely excited because Avi is going to be an exceptional dean at the law school," said Foster, his predecessor. "He visited us for a year about three or four years ago, so our law community got to know him well.

"Dean Soifer's national and international reputation as a star scholar alone will greatly enhance the already strong reputation of our law school and the university. I predict that his tenure as dean will soon come to be known as the 'glory days' of our school."

The search for a dean has taken a year with scrutiny of more than 50 candidates, and was conducted by a broad-based community and campus group that included attorneys, professors, and community leaders.

It's one of several appointments expected over the next several weeks. Finalists for the positions of dean of the School of Nursing and Dental Hygiene and the school of Travel Industry Management are in the final phases of the search process. Active searches are also under way for the dean of the School of Social Work; a director for the Pacific Biomedical Research Center; and for permanent vice chancellors for Academic Affairs and for Research and Graduate Education.

In other action yesterday, the board also approved a 4 percent increase in UH graduate assistant stipends, effective July 1. The raises will apply to about 1,300 teaching and research assistants. There are 5,876 graduate students. Graduate assistants currently make between $12,786 and $17,496 over nine months.