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New dean named at University at Buffalo School of Law

An expert in commercial and insurance law – who's also the daughter of two University at Buffalo alumni – has been named dean of the UB School of Law.

Aviva Abramovsky, associate dean for international initiatives and Kaufman Professor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Syracuse University College of Law, will take over leadership of the law school in July, UB Provost Charles F. Zukoski announced today.

Abramovsky will succeed Interim Dean James A. Gardner, who has led the law school since December 2014 and will return to his post as professor.

She was chosen from among five finalists who visited campus in February for meetings with faculty, staff and administrators.

Aviva Abramovsky has been named dean of the University at Buffalo School of Law.

At Syracuse, Abramovsky led efforts to bring a more global perspective to the College of Law. She spearheaded Master of Laws and two-year Juris Doctor programs for foreign lawyers and launched a visiting scholars and researchers program.

Her work on establishing partnerships abroad led to the creation of a new international student exchange program. She also created a legal English pre-matriculation program. Abramovsky directed Syracuse's clinical internship program in London.

“Professor Abramovsky was chosen for the position because of her impressive leadership experience, academic accomplishments, and creative, entrepreneurial vision for the UB School of Law and the future of legal education,” Zukoski said in a prepared statement. “Under her leadership, I am confident that the School of Law will continue to build on its long tradition of delivering innovative and interdisciplinary research and learning in pursuit of justice.”

Abramovsky's parents both attended UB. Her father, Abraham, earned a law degree in 1970. Her mother earned a bachelor of fine arts degree in 1970.

Abramovsky received her undergraduate degree in industrial and labor relations from Cornell University. Her law degree is from the University of Pennsylvania. She is the editor of LSN Insurance Law, Legislation, & Policy. She also served as an academic evaluator for the American Bar Association’s federal judiciary committees for then-Supreme Court nominees Samuel Alito and Sonya Sotomayor.

“I am deeply honored for the opportunity to collaborate with UB’s world-class law faculty to chart a new path for the law school,” Abramovsky said in a statement provided by the university. “Legal education in the United States is at an inflection point, and UB School of Law is perfectly poised to take the lead in providing innovative, multidisciplinary and modern legal education in a world where the practice of law is radically changing.

“As the daughter of two UB alumni, this position is also a kind of homecoming. It is with great pleasure that I anticipate my future in Buffalo.”

Former UB Law School dean, Makau W. Mutua, resigned in 2014 amid claims by some faculty that he had lied under oath in a federal court case brought by a former member of the clinical faculty. A federal magistrate judge ruled in 2015 that the perjury claims were irrelevant to the wrongful termination suit and that Mutua had testified to the best of his recollection.

Gardner was appointed interim dean after Mutua stepped down. The university launched a search for a new dean last September, with a 15-person committee led by Paul Tesluk, dean of the UB School of Management.

The university also hired a national firm, Russell Reynolds Associates, to assist with the search. University administrators hope new leadership will help overcome divisions within the Law School and bolster its sagging U.S. News & World Report rankings.

The UB Law School slipped out of the top 100 law schools in the country in the latest U.S. News & World Report survey of the top graduate schools and programs, released earlier this month.

The law school fell to No. 106 with an overall score of 37, tied with Catholic University of America and Drake University.

The law school ranked No. 100 last year, with an overall score of 38, and the year prior to that it was No. 87.

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