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Dean Edley Steps Down to Pursue Professional Goals

Dean Edley
Dean Christopher Edley, Jr.

By Susan Gluss

Berkeley Law Dean Christopher Edley, Jr., today announced that he is taking medical leave (as of Monday, August 19) and will end his nine years of service as head of the law school on December 31, 2013.

In a letter to law school faculty and staff, Edley reiterated his commitment to the school’s capital campaign and offered to assist on special projects while on leave. Professor Gillian Lester has agreed to serve as acting dean in the interim, as UC Berkeley begins a replacement search.

Dean Edley’s current term of service was due to expire in 2014. He will remain at Berkeley Law as a faculty member.

In assessing his medical condition, Edley said his “health problems are more than worrisome, but much less than dire. As some of you know, I had surgery for prostate cancer in May, but learned recently that I need further treatment. This must be my priority. I expect that UCSF will vanquish the malady within a few months. Yet, as I contemplate what is ahead of me, I realize I am not prepared to return to the deanship. These developments have reminded me again how short life can be, and, for that reason, I feel an urgency to turn to some other professional goals I will pursue while continuing with you as a faculty colleague. Chief among these will be public education equity and excellence.”

“Over these years I suppose there may have been a few moments when I regretted coming to Boalt,” Edley wrote in closing. “But I can’t seem to remember a single one.”

In a letter to alumni, Assistant Dean of Development Robert Sproul thanked the dean for his year’s of service and took a moment “to appreciate where the law school stands today” because of his leadership.

“When he stepped into this position nine years ago,” Sproul wrote, “he laid out four ‘pillars’ of his Campaign for Boalt Hall. The first was to improve the law school’s tired infrastructure to compete with the other top law schools in the country. The second was to expand the faculty ranks to a size befitting a top-ten law school. The third was to expand financial aid so that we can keep a law school education accessible even as tuition rises, and provide our graduates with freedom of career choice. The fourth was to strengthen and grow our research centers to help tackle some of society’s most pressing issues.”

“We have achieved all the dean’s goals—and more. We’ve expanded our clinical and professional skills programs, increased our international reach with a larger academic-year LL.M. program and a new summer LL.M. program. And we are far along in developing a unique online education effort that will position Berkeley Law as a leader in this emerging area.”

“In short, Dean Edley is leaving us a great foundation on which to build, and he’s positioned us to maintain our excellence well into the future,” Sproul emphasized. He offered heartfelt thanks for Edley’s “concern, support and dedication,” echoing the sentiments of the entire law school community.