Elizabeth Kronk Warner will be the next dean of the University of Utah’s S.J. Quinney College of Law. Warner will be the first ever female dean in the law school’s 106-year history.
Warner was announced as the new dean by the U’s Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Dan Reed. She will start this new position on July 1, after her appointment approval process is completed and she will replace the law school’s current dean, Robert Adler, who has served as dean since 2014.
Reed explained that Warner was chosen because she “is highly regarded as a natural leader and consensus builder who engages deeply, prioritizes both faculty scholarship and student success, and is committed to equity, diversity and inclusion.”
Warner is a citizen of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians and currently works as the associate dean of academic affairs and a professor of Tribal Law and Government Center at the University of Kansas School of Law. She has spent much of her time as director of the Tribal Law and Government Center since 2012. Additionally, Warner is co-chair of the Native American Resources Committee for the American Bar Association.
Connor Arrington is in the class of 2020 at the S.J. Quinney College of Law. “I was fortunate enough to hear most of the candidates speak to the law school’s student body and I was extremely impressed with what I heard from each of them. However, Elizabeth Warner stood out to me for several reasons,” said Arrington. “First, Dean Warner has extensive administrative experience, most recently with Kansas University’s law school where she has been student-focused — especially in facilitating student preparation for the bar exam.”
Arrington added, “Utah is a state that shares is land with at least seven federally recognized Native American tribes and, from my knowledge, Dean Warner has focused a large part of her academic career researching and working on legal issues affecting our First Nations. And I believe she herself is a member of a Native American tribe. I hope and believe that Dean Warner will help generate greater participation from our native communities in the law school.”
Warner received her J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School, her undergraduate degree in communication from Cornell University and studied at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. She worked in private practice for several years before entering academia. Prior to joining the University of Kansas, Warner was a law professor at both the University of Montana and Texas Tech.
“I don’t necessarily believe that a certain person should be selected for a position primarily because that type of person (in this case a female) has never served before, but from what I heard and from I what have learned about Dean Warner, she was more than qualified to fill the post and I think she will do an outstanding job,” said Arrington. “Women are just as capable as men at serving in the highest positions anywhere and I believe that the Dean Selection Committee just recognized that Dean Warner is what the school needs at this point in time.”
Walter Mason, a 2018 graduate of the S.J. Quinney College of Law, commented, “Dean Warner’s impressive academic accomplishments in tribal law and indigenous studies will complement the law school’s reputation for scholarly achievement in the area of environmental law.”
“In listening to Dean Warner speak it became very apparent that she knew a lot about Utah, was excited about Utah, and that she had the personality to be the face of our school that continues to grow in national recognition,” said Arrington. “I believe the law school is very lucky to have Dean Warner.”
In Warner’s statement of acceptance for the position she said, “the school has done an exceptional job of balancing a commitment to excellent educational opportunities for students at an appropriate cost while also promoting outstanding scholarly work. I look forward to leading the college to even greater success in the coming years.”
A previous version of this story included a quote which incorrectly misstated that the law school’s bar passage rates have been declining, when they have in fact risen consecutively over the last four years. It also did not correctly attribute one of Connor Arrington’s quotes.