Dean Trevor Morrison announces that he will step down in 2022

Dean Trevor Morrison today announced that he will step down from his post at the close of the current academic year, June 1, 2022. Since Morrison joined NYU Law in 2013 as dean, he has led the Law School through the implementation of a far-reaching strategic plan that has made an NYU Law education more financially accessible, strengthened the school’s tradition of excellence and its engagement with vital public issues, and fostered diversity and inclusion. His announcement comes as the Law School concludes a record-breaking $540 million capital campaign that has highlighted the commitment and deep involvement of the NYU Law community.

Trevor Morrison
Trevor Morrison

“Serving as the Dean of NYU Law is the best job I have ever had,” said Morrison in his announcement. “But strong institutions are made stronger by successful leadership transitions, and now is the right time for that to happen here. The future of NYU Law is dazzlingly bright.” Morrison, a constitutional scholar who is the Eric M. and Laurie B. Roth Professor of Law, added that he looks forward to returning to full-time teaching at the Law School after a year’s sabbatical.

“Since being named the Law School’s dean in 2013, [Morrison] has compiled an extraordinary record of success,” said NYU President Andrew Hamilton, NYU Provost Katherine Fleming, and David Tanner, chair of the NYU Law Board of Trustees, in a statement. “If the mark of a successful deanship is whether the school is in a better place at the end than at the beginning of one’s service,” they added, “then Trevor’s has been a great and proud feat.” A search for Morrison’s successor will be launched in the near future, they said.

Tanner also noted, “On behalf of the entire Board of Trustees, we are so thankful for Trevor’s remarkable leadership; the strong partnership he developed with the faculty, Board of Trustees, and his leadership team; and the enormously successful completion of the Law School’s capital campaign. We look forward to thanking Trevor and celebrating his accomplishments later in the school year.”

In the past year and a half, Morrison led the Law School through the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, including a rapid pivot to distance learning in March 2020 and a full return to campus in the current academic year. At the same time, he continued the work of strengthening the institution and its community that he began when he joined the Law School.

During Morrison’s tenure, the Law School has recruited 17 new tenured or tenure-track faculty in key areas, along with a number of leading professors of practice, with more appointments to be announced this year. It has added 15 new research centers and increased support for others in areas that include national security; policing; diversity and inclusion; law and social entrepreneurship; corporate finance and governance; tax law; and race, inequality, and the law. Continuing its tradition of interdisciplinary study and innovation, NYU Law launched an MS in Cybersecurity Risk and Strategy with NYU Tandon School of Engineering, and has just announced a new MS in Health Law and Strategy with NYU Wagner School of Public Service.

At a school with an already outstanding student body, the strength of the entering class improved along key dimensions during Morrison’s tenure, and Morrison has made the financial accessibility of NYU Law a top focus. The Law School has significantly increased financial aid, and reinvested in the Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP) and other support for students working in the public interest sector. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Morrison worked with Law School alumni and other supporters to establish a COVID-19 hardship fund to support students in need.

As dean, Morrison renewed NYU Law’s commitment to diversity and racial justice. He created the post of assistant dean for diversity and inclusion and established the Law School’s Inclusion and Diversity Committee. Among the centers launched during Morrison’s tenure are the Center on Race, Inequality, and the Law, which combines litigation, educational training, and advocacy to combat systemic racism, and the Center for Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging, which focuses on scholarship and best practices for creating more inclusive organizations.

All of these initiatives and many others were supported by the Lead the Way campaign, which launched in 2017 with a goal of $450 million, following a quiet phase starting in 2013. It concluded in August 2021, having surpassed that goal by more than $90 million. “This tremendous investment by our generous alumni and other supporters places the Law School on extremely strong footing going forward,” Morrison noted as he announced his departure as dean.

Morrison came to NYU Law from Columbia Law School, where he was Liviu Librescu Professor of Law. He served as associate counsel to President Barack Obama; his government experience also includes working as a Bristow Fellow in the US Justice Department's Office of the Solicitor General and an attorney-advisor in the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel. Earlier this year, Morrison was appointed by President Biden to serve on the Presidential Commission on the Supreme Court of the United States. (Other NYU Law faculty serving on the commission include Professor of Practice and Distinguished Scholar in Residence Bob Bauer, who is co-chair, and Sudler Family Professor of Constitutional Law Richard Pildes.) Morrison’s research and teaching interests are in constitutional law, especially separation of powers and federalism; federal courts; and the law of the executive branch. 

Before entering academia, Morrison was a law clerk to Judge Betty B. Fletcher of the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg of the US Supreme Court. Morrison received a BA (hons.) in history from the University of British Columbia in 1994, and a JD from Columbia Law School in 1998. He was also a Richard Hofstadter Fellow in History at Columbia University.

Posted October 7, 2021