The Gonzaga Law School is operational for the 2021-2022 academic year with Dean Jacob Rooksby, who was originally appointed in 2018, returning to the helm.
As another semester begins, it has been determined that Rooksby will be reappointed as Dean of GU Law School for another three years, with his second term ending in 2024.
During his tenure as Dean, Rooksby said he encountered obstacles that rocked the whole of higher education. The GU administration recognized his efforts and abilities to advance GU Law’s prospects, and so after a series of conversations, including with the President and the Provost, it was decided that he would be reappointed for another term.
Thinking back to his three years at GU Law, Rooksby emphasized how vital a culture of teamwork has been in overcoming challenges, including the pandemic.
“I think there were two different eras – the ‘Pre-COVID’ and ‘COVID,’ said Rooksby. ‘I think a lot has been accomplished in a short period of time and I’m very proud of the work that our team was able to accomplish. Obviously, it became much more difficult with COVID, but we weathered this storm well. “
Recently entering its largest class since 2007, GU Law School has also seen its diversity increase by 27% over the past two years, according to Rooksby.
“It’s really remarkable where we ended up, in the midst of so much,” said Rooksby. “I think we’ve come a long way, and the worst is behind us – in terms of the uncertainties caused by this pandemic. ”
Colleagues working alongside the dean also recognized his efforts to move the school forward.
Kim Pearson, associate dean of academic affairs and program innovation at the law school, said she appreciates what he has brought to the table regarding innovation and the way forward.
“Dean Rooksby’s vision for law school is clear, forward-looking and unwavering despite circumstances that may cause others to drop out of legal studies,” said Pearson. “As Dean, he engages with many different audiences who care about the health of law school and support our students.”
Looking to the future, Rooksby hopes to continue cultivating this positive environment at GU Law. It considers student satisfaction and engagement as a priority for future development, as well as the evolution of this engagement in a much more modernized and digital context.
“We are focused on meeting students where they are – by presenting our brand consistently through a social media platform or other digital techniques,” said Rooksby. “We are continually improving our capabilities there, while rethinking our main focal points. ”
This mindset of ‘sustaining’ the school by promoting operations and practices that can pay dividends down the road is one of the many strategies characterized by Rooksby and adopted by Pearson and GU Law School. .
“It focuses on emerging developments in legal education, encouraging us to innovate and improve methods that work, rather than bringing our practices to life because they worked in an earlier era,” said Pearson.
Rooksby will have the opportunity over the next three years to expand what he has called “flagship” elements of the future of GU law: the Center for Human and Civil Rights and the Center for Law, l ethics and commerce. Both provide students with crucial opportunities to be exposed to different perspectives in the legal field and to develop skills that will help them on the inside.
His work ethic was perhaps his most obvious trait during his early years as Dean, as those around him underscore his energetic and hardworking mentality. It was evident to others that Rooksby remained determined to develop a precedent of progress that puts the school on the course of monumental success.
“As Dean, he engages with many different audiences who care about the health of the law school and support our students,” said Pearson. “He has lectured as a faculty member, sometimes touching on new topics, and has worked to ease the way for our students in complex conversations about current events, grades, and scholarship policies.”
While his drive has served him well during his time at GU Law, Rooksby has made it clear that he will focus on achieving a more natural work-life balance that brings out the best in him.
He realized in hindsight that his motivation to get the most out of each day may have contributed to personal fatigue.
Rooksby remains self-aware and ready to take on any challenges that may emerge in the future of GU Law. His dedication to excellent service was unwavering – as his next three years begin at GU, Dean Rooksby is ready to get down to business.
“Focusing on new initiatives for staff and students is a priority, just as behind-the-scenes infrastructure issues represent many responsibilities,” said Rooksby. “But this is where a dean of a law school can bring unique added value, and it’s a globally exciting job to do.”
Anders Svenningsen is editor-in-chief.