I write — with a mixture of sadness and pride — to share the news that UCLA School of Law Dean Jennifer Mnookin will be leaving our university to become chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. While Chancellor Block and I are very sorry to see her go, it is a well-deserved testament to her leadership abilities and record of success that she has been chosen to helm the flagship campus of the University of Wisconsin system.
Dean Mnookin’s last day at UCLA will be August 3. We will appoint an interim dean for UCLA School of Law in the weeks ahead, as well as launch a national search for her successor.
As the leader of our law school since 2015, Dean Mnookin has elevated the school in every respect, with a focus on access and excellence. Under her leadership, the school has enhanced the quality and diversity of the faculty; seen an increase in the credentials and diversity of the student body; set records for philanthropic support; built and expanded impactful, innovative programs in several disciplines; and achieved its highest ever rankings. Throughout, Dean Mnookin has shown a steadfast commitment to connecting with and supporting students, and doing as much as possible to sustain community, especially during the pandemic.
Dean Mnookin’s strengths in donor cultivation, solicitation and stewardship enabled the School of Law to establish and raise endowments for numerous strategic initiatives — including the creation of the Promise Institute for Human Rights; the Center for Immigration Law and Policy; the Institute for Technology, Law and Policy; the Ziffren Institute for Media, Entertainment, Technology and Sports Law; the Center of Reproductive Health, Law and Policy; and the Program in Non-Profits and Philanthropy. The school also successfully launched the Master of Legal Studies degree program for non-lawyer professionals to enhance their legal skills and acumen.
She is also founder and faculty co-director of the Program on Understanding Law, Science & Evidence, better known as PULSE @ UCLA Law. During her deanship, the school created several endowed chairs for faculty as well as a substantial number of endowed student scholarships, including the Achievement Fellowship Program, which provides full tuition for high-achieving students who have overcome significant life obstacles; the first endowed Black Law Students Association scholarship; and the landmark Graton Scholars initiative for students from Native Nations or who are dedicated to tribal advocacy.
Dean Mnookin has been a widely admired leader across campus. For the past five years, she served as an effective and collaborative chair of the Professional School Dean’s Council, among other formal and informal cross-campus leadership roles. She has also held important leadership roles beyond UCLA, serving on the Board of Trustees of the Law School Admissions Council; the Deans’ Steering Committee of the American Association of Law Schools; and the National Academy of Sciences Committee on Science, Technology and Law.
Dean Mnookin’s leading scholarship in the field of evidence earned her election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2020 and she continues to be one of the most cited scholars in her field of evidence law. She also serves as the Ralph and Shirley Shapiro Professor of Law and has been a member of the faculty since 2005. She previously served as vice dean for faculty and research from 2007 to 2009 and vice dean for faculty recruitment and intellectual life from 2012 to 2013.
Chancellor Block and I are extremely grateful for Dean Mnookin’s leadership as dean and for the many meaningful initiatives that she led at UCLA. We hope you will join us in wishing her well in her transition to the University of Wisconsin-Madison. We look forward to all she will accomplish at one of our nation’s other great public research universities.
Michael S. Levine
Interim Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost