UALR William H. Bowen School of Law professor Paula Casey assumed the position of interim dean July 1, while a national search for a permanent dean to replace Dean Emeritus John DiPippa continues.
“We’re steering a pretty good course,” Casey said. “Dean DiPippa was a great leader, and he did a really wonderful job for us.”
Born in the small, rural town of Charleston, Ark., Casey graduated with her bachelor’s degree from East Central University of Oklahoma in 1973 and her law degree from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville School of Law in 1977. Just two years after graduating law school, she became a professor at the UALR William H. Bowen School of Law and has been a member of the school’s faculty – on and off – since 1979.
“I certainly understand what it feels like to be a faculty member,” Casey said. “And I think that perspective is good for somebody who is trying to help the faculty excel in teaching, scholarship, and public service – as well as share our school’s values with a new generation of attorneys.”
Casey left the law school temporarily from 1990 to 1992, when she went to Washington to serve as chief counsel and legislative director to Sen. Dale Bumpers, and again from 1993 to 2000, when she was appointed and served as U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas.
She returned to Bowen in 2001 and has since taught courses including lawyering skills, criminal procedure, evidence, advanced litigation, and property.
“I have known Paula for many years,” said Sandra Robertson, UALR’s interim provost. “She has served the Bowen School of Law in many different capacities over the years, which makes her ideal for her new role as interim dean. Her vast breadth of experience will be invaluable to us this year. She is professional while being a joy to work with. I look forward to this year and know Bowen will benefit from her service.”
Casey served as Bowen’s associate dean from 1986 to 1990 under former Dean Lawrence Averill, who served from 1982 to 1989. Casey also has a considerable amount of diverse administration experience, from her extensive work in both government affairs and the university system.
“I know the legal community; I know the law school thoroughly; I know the university and university system well,” Casey said. “I’ve had a lot of experience with administration. I think all of those things will help.”
When she was offered the position of interim dean, Casey was preparing to join her husband in retirement. Casey said she would consider an extended stay if the school needs an interim dean for an extended period of time. However, she is not interested in seeking the permanent position.
“This is a great law school, and Little Rock is a wonderful place to live,” she said. “We’ve got a solid footing here and aren’t experiencing some of the problems that some other law schools are. I have high hopes that we’ll have a successful dean’s search and get someone really exceptional.”
Although she says retirement would be ideal, Casey is now considering a return to the classroom as a half-time professor for a year following her work as interim dean.
“I think the law school is heading in a very good direction and I think we’ve got some exceptional faculty and staff members to show for it,” Casey said. “We’ve made great strides with our facilities and our programs. I really see my role as that of assuring that all employees are able to do their jobs. That’s what a good administrator does – makes it possible for other people to do good work.”