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Penn State Names New Law School Dean

by on January 06, 2017 4:38 PM

A University of Minnesota Law School professor and expert on public policy for energy and climate change has been named the next dean of Penn State Law and the School of International Affairs.

Hari M. Osofsky is the Robins Kaplan Professor of Law, faculty director of the Energy Transition Lab and director of the Joint Degree Program in Law, Science and Technology at Minnesota. She was selected after a national search and her Penn State appointment is effective July 1, pending approval by the university's Board of Trustees.

"Hari Osofsky is an excellent choice to lead Penn State Law and the SIA. She brings with her an impressive list of accomplishments and quality scholarship, along with an enthusiasm and vision that will allow her to build upon the exceptional work of our faculty and staff," Penn State Provost Nick Jones said in a statement. "I am delighted to appoint someone of this caliber to lead and engage with our law students and the entire university community."

Penn State Law is the university's law school at University Park and one of two accredited law schools operated by Penn State. The other is Dickinson Law in Carlisle. Gary Gildin was named dean of Dickinson Law in November. The two schools were formerly a single law school with two locations. 

James Houck, retired vice admiral of the U.S. Navy and a Distinguished Scholar in Residence, has been serving as interim dean of Penn State Law and the School of International Affairs since 2013. 

"Jim has been a strong but steady hand and guiding force during the transition of the law school into two separate entities," said Jones. "His leadership has brought us to this exciting point in time where a new dean can build on his accomplishments and continue to meet the major challenges, changes and opportunities in legal education in the years ahead."

Osofsky also holds faculty positions with Minnesota's Conservation Biology Graduate Program, Department of Geography, Environment and Society, and Institute on the Environment. She has authored more than 50 publications on governance and regulation in energy and climate change.

“I am honored and excited to have the opportunity to serve as the dean of Penn State Law and the School of International Affairs at this leading public research university,” Osofsky said in a statement. “Technology, globalization, and the need for cross-cutting knowledge are fundamentally changing our society, and the legal and international affairs professions. I look forward to collaborating with my new colleagues at these schools and across campus to develop innovative interdisciplinary research and educational programs that will benefit society.”

She holds a a Ph.D. in geography from the University of Oregon and a juris doctor from Yale Law School. Prior to Minnesota, Osofsky taught at Washington and Lee University School of Law, University of Oregon School of Law, and Whittier Law School. She clerked for Judge Dorothy Nelson in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and was a fellow at the Center for the Law in the Public Interest in Los Angeles. In 2001-02 Osofsky was a Yale-China Legal Education Fellow and Visiting Scholar at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, China, where she taught U.S. civil rights law and helped launch the school’s first legal clinic.

Geoff Rushton is managing editor for Contact him at or find him on Twitter at @geoffrushton.
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