Dean Shields To Retire
June 24, 2011
SOUTH ROYALTON, VT -- Vermont Law School President, Dean and Professor Jeff Shields today announced his retirement effective August 1, 2012, after four decades as a practicing attorney and legal educator.
Shields, 65, became Vermont Law School's seventh dean in August 2004 after serving as a partner at the Chicago and Washington, D.C., law firm of Gardner Carton and Douglas, where he was nationally recognized for his expertise in not-for-profit law, corporate law, health care law and international trade law. He received his BA in economics, magna cum laude, from Harvard College in 1967 and his JD from Yale Law School in 1972.
Shields announced his retirement to VLS trustees, faculty, students, staff and alumni this morning.
"I have loved this job," he said. "The opportunity to lead an institution with a mission of public citizenship, public service and environmental advocacy has been exhilarating. The quality and values of our trustees, faculty, staff, students and alumni have lifted me every day since I started here on Aug. 1, 2004.
"My recent bout with cancer, from which I have recovered, has prompted me to want to spend more time with my family, especially my wife, Genie Bird Shields, and to pursue other interests," he said. "There are a number of major projects underway which will be completed during the 2011-2012 academic year. Their completion will make it a particularly auspicious time for the next dean to begin his or her own initiatives."
During Shields' tenure, VLS solidified its position as the nation's premier environmental law program but also expanded the school's international reach. He strengthened the Career Services office to help graduates find jobs and recruited well known faculty members who have a combination of professional and academic experience. He helped to create the school's Institute for Energy and the Environment, U.S.-China Partnership for Environmental Law, Distance Learning masters programs, Land Use Clinic, Sports Law Institute and other programs. VLS expanded its full-time faculty, increased its endowment from about $8 million to $12 million, crafted a campus master plan and will complete a $15 million capital campaign and two major building projects by next summer -- the new Center for Legal Services, which will house the South Royalton Legal Clinic and the Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic, and a new fitness center.
"I have had the good fortune to serve under an extraordinary board and with a great group of deans, department directors, faculty and staff colleagues," said Shields, whose trademark bow tie has been a fixture on campus for nearly a decade. "The positive accomplishments during the last seven years have been due to the creativity and hard work of our remarkable VLS family. With their help, I hope to make my last year as dean my most productive."
The VLS Board of Trustees is forming a search committee for a new dean.
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