When Michael Kelly became dean of the University of Maryland law school at the age of 36 in 1974, he was among the youngest deans of a major law school in the nation. As he departs at a still-young 53, he is the country's senior law school dean.
How did Kelly attain such remarkable longevity in a time when law school deanships rarely last for more than a decade? Chiefly, by keeping a traditionally contentious and fractious law school faculty working together toward a common objective: good legal education in a time of great change in both the law and society. It's a basic function of the law, of course, to accommodate change in an orderly and beneficial fashion.
The demographics alone tell the story: As Kelly takes his leave, women now constitute half the student body at the law school; the proportion of minorities has risen dramatically as well.