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Dean Of The Claude W. Pettit College Of Law


Ohio Northern University in Ada, Ohio, seeks applications and nominations for the position of Dean of the Claude W. Pettit College of Law. Founded in 1885, the College of Law provides a distinctive law school experience. The small student to faculty ratio allows for each student to build relationships with members of the faculty. ONU Law has consistently strong bar passage and employment statistics and a curriculum that melds theory with practice. Ohio Northern University seeks a dean who has a deep understanding of the challenges currently facing law schools and will continue to build on the College of Law’s strengths so that it is well positioned for the future. The dean will report directly to the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs and assume the position on or around June 1, 2018.


Founded in 1871, Ohio Northern University (ONU) is an independent, selective and comprehensive university. ONU consistently reflects founder Henry Solomon Lehr’s vision of “providing a community of learning, rich with opportunities for intellectual and personal development.” The University has been affiliated with the United Methodist Church since 1899, instilling core values while offering religious freedom on campus. Today Ohio Northern has an enrollment of approximately 3,000 students from 38 states and 23 countries and offers more than 70 programs of study. Capitalizing on its historic reputation for quality, ONU is poised to move to a position of significantly greater regional and national prominence.

The University’s mission today is to “provide a high-quality learning environment that prepares students for success in their careers, service to their communities, the nation, and the world, and a lifetime of personal growth inspired by the higher values of truth, beauty, and goodness.” This mission is achieved via a distinctive academic program with mutually supporting liberal and professional education components that integrate practice with theory, complemented by excellent co-curricular education.

Numerous college rankings and ratings consistently give ONU high marks. The University is ranked fourth in the Midwest among regional colleges in the 2018 Best Colleges ranking and is fourth among Midwest regional Colleges in the “Great Schools, Great Prices” category. Washington Monthly ranks the University sixth on its “Top 150 Baccalaureate Colleges” list. In addition, ONU is included in the College Choice “Best Colleges in Ohio” rankings. The Princeton Review includes ONU among its “Best 382 Colleges” and names it a “Best Regional College.” The University is also listed in “Creative Colleges.”

The recognition noted above is due in large part to the quality of ONU’s academic programs and faculty. Ohio Northern University is organized into five colleges: The Pettit College of Law, The Getty College of Arts & Sciences, The Smull College of Engineering, The Dicke College of Business Administration, and The Raabe College of Pharmacy. Unlike many smaller private institutions, ONU has had professional colleges since its founding.

Ohio Northern University is situated in rural northwest Ohio in the historic village of Ada (population 5,582). Columbus, Dayton, and Toledo are within easy reach. The beautiful 342-acre campus is made up of 60-plus modern residences and academic buildings, including the Freed Center for the Performing Arts that showcases several performing arts events each year. Guests of the University, as well as the public, enjoy the luxury and comfort of The Inn at Ohio Northern. More than $100 million in capital projects over the past decade have helped maintain the beauty and functionality of the campus. In addition, the University recently broke ground on a $30 million building for the College of Engineering, which will host classes starting in the fall of 2019.

The University enjoys an excellent relationship with the local community and with the broad base of ONU alumni. This is evidenced, in part, by strong fundraising, and alumni and community participation in the life and support of the institution.


ONU Law has a legacy of excellence with over 130 years of preparing students for legal practice. Fully accredited by the American Bar Association since 1948, ONU Law boasts an outstanding cadre of law faculty focused on student success. With a student to faculty ratio of 6:1 and a total study body of 160 students (42% from Ohio) representing 112 undergraduate colleges, ONU Law fosters a community of learners in a supportive environment with a healthy element of competition. ONU Law has made significant efforts to consistently enroll a diverse class and this year the college enrolled 21% minority students.

ONU Law’s mission is to educate and transform students into competent, ethical, professional legal practitioners able to apply their skills and talents in traditional and emerging environments. We work diligently to maintain an educational program that prepares students for admission to the bar and effective and responsible participation in the legal profession. Our objectives are to provide students with a foundation in legal reasoning, analysis, and writing; to give them a thorough understanding of the structures and policies of the law; to help them acquire a broad and general understanding of how the law and legal institutions evolve and operate; and to make them aware of the limits of the law and how lawyers can contribute beyond the boundaries of traditional legal practice.

ONU Law’s educational program is designed not only to address current and anticipated legal problems, but also to provide students with opportunities to regularly interact with faculty, to enhance and expand their exposure to professional skills, and to examine topics of personal interest within a critical, yet collegial environment. The program offers a traditional, comprehensive curriculum aimed at producing ethical, competent, and responsible professionals.

ONU Law provides its students with ample programming for student success. The Summer Starter Program is a unique opportunity for students whose outstanding undergraduate performance indicates probable academic success in law school despite a lower LSAT score. Potential students vie for one of the 20 seats in the program through a required on campus interview process. Summer starter students embark on an intensive 8-week program consisting of two first-year courses, individual weekly meetings with an academic support advisor, and weekly group teaching assistant sessions. Summer starter students are automatically enrolled into the fall entering class upon completion of the program and many of these students end up in the top of the class at the conclusion of the first year.

The Academic Support program contributes to the success of all of our graduates. ONU Law was first in bar passage for the February 2017 Ohio bar exam and tied for second with Ohio State for first time takers of the July 2017. 78% of the class of 2016 was employed or enrolled in graduate school 9 months after graduation. Classes such as Legal Methods and Transition to Practice, the Succeed Program and ONU Bar Review, and a targeted academic advising system help our students to build a solid foundation of knowledge. Seven hours of required skills courses help to develop the student beyond the doctrinal curriculum. Certificate tracks in Bankruptcy and Commercial Law, Civil Litigation, Corporate Law, Criminal Law, International Law, Public Law and Policy, Real Property Law, Small Firm General Practice, and Taxation tailor coursework to students’ future career interests.

ONU Law provides strong support for its experiential learning programs, including the year-round civil litigation and corporate transactional clinics housed in nearby Lima, Ohio, and a robust externship program placing students with judges, prosecutor and public defender’s offices, and nonprofits across the U.S. ONU Law students are guaranteed placement in the 12 clinic and externship programs and almost 80% of students participate in the experiential learning programs.

There are many value-added opportunities for ONU Law students including the JD/MSA Program in Tax Law and the JD/LL.M. Program in Democratic Governance and Rule of Law. Both of these programs provide students with the ability to earn a degree in addition to their Juris Doctorate in three years. The JD/MSA program allows J.D. students with an undergraduate degree in accounting to take specialized courses taught by experienced tax professionals and gain practical experience through placement in a tax-focused externship to earn a Master of Science in Accounting with enough credits to sit for the CPA exam. The JD/LL.M program provides students with a global education in law by sharing classes and activities alongside international LL.M. students who are practicing attorneys in their countries. In the 2017-18 academic year the international LL.M counts lawyers from Tanzania, Malawi, Nigeria, Georgia, Pakistan, Nepal, Kosovo, Saudi Arabia, and Afghanistan. LL.M students expand their worldview through externship placements in governmental and nongovernmental organizations in the U.S. and overseas. All ONU Law students enjoy study abroad opportunities in the January term with courses like Law & Culture in Southeast Asia or Rule of Law in English History in London. Students can also add to their international experience through involvement in the International Law Society or by becoming a member of the International Law Moot Court team. In addition, for more than 50 years ONU Law has maintained a strong relationship with the University of Iceland. This relationship has now grown into an academic exchange program. ONU Law also houses a Center for Democratic Governance and Rule of Law that engages in research and development projects around the world.

Outside of class, students build relationships through participation in student organizations such as the Student Bar Association, as well as through opportunities to participate in Law Review or on one of ONU Law’s moot court teams. The Taggart Law Library supports the educational mission of ONU Law and the University community as a whole. The library has a broad and deep collection of state and federal legal materials, and a growing collection of foreign and international materials with a focus on areas relevant to the curriculum. Both campus libraries are members of OhioLINK, the resource sharing consortium that allows library users to borrow materials from academic libraries around the state. The beautiful Hanson Reading Room is used for studying and for hosting special events at ONU Law.

ONU Law is located on the main ONU campus in Tilton Hall and has attractive physical facilities. Many areas have been renovated during the past 12 years, including the small and large moot courtrooms, one classroom, a special archives room, two student lounges, the faculty lounge, the library’s reading room and the new rare book room. The building has also received upgrades to administrative offices and a new wing with faculty offices was added in the 1990s.

In addition to the strengths of its educational programming and facilities, ONU Law offers its students great affordability. ONU Law is one of the most affordable private law schools in the Midwest, which is one of the many factors that attracts prospective students and allows the College to enroll a well-credentialed incoming class with a median LSAT of 151 and undergraduate GPA of 3.28/4.00.


ONU Law is known for the faculty’s commitment to building strong relationships with students, and for preparing graduates to practice law. The school has produced many generations of graduates throughout the country, and it has had a deep and lasting impact on the practice of law in Northern Ohio. Attorneys, judges and many elected officials at the local, state and national levels are graduates, forming a strong network of more than 5,200 alumni practicing in all 50 states and abroad, creating a rich resource for the school.

A key strength of the school is the caliber of its faculty, and the quality of its academic culture. Many faculty are top experts in their specialty, with training and experience from leading academic institutions. They come to ONU Law because of the strength of this community, the rich teaching environment, and the promise of a splendid setting in which to raise a family.

The new dean will need to focus on building and expanding innovation and best practices to student recruiting, performance and post-graduation success, at both the strategic and hands-on level. Our size, our nimbleness and our strong community culture represent untapped potential for an entrepreneurial leader and team builder. Student performance is an immediate, key criterion, but we also understand the need for a long-term systems approach focused on enhancing scholarship, research, program innovation, alumni and network development and fundraising in order to ensure long-term growth and stability.

The next dean of ONU Law will have the opportunity to creatively shape and lead ONU Law’s agenda for the future. Included in, but not limited to, this leadership agenda will be the following:

Provide strong, strategic leadership: In collaboration with faculty, staff, alumni, students, community members and colleagues across the University, the dean will translate ONU Law’s vision into a strategic agenda. In line with the University’s and ONU Law’s strategic plans, this agenda will articulate short and longer term goals, resource needs, and strategies for accomplishing the goals.

Provide effective day-to-day leadership for ONU Law’s administrative functions: This includes but is not limited to human resource functions such as faculty recruitment, promotion and tenure, staff management, and professional development; faculty governance functions; and financial and physical resource management. Ensure the continued strength and relevance of ONU Law’s academic programs: ONU Law has an excellent reputation for academic program quality and innovation. The next dean will capitalize on these successes, encouraging and assisting entrepreneurial program efforts.

Lead ONU Law’s enrollment efforts: Like other private institutions, enrollment is the key driver of ONU Law’s success. The next dean will be a key leader in articulating and implementing ONU Law’s enrollment plan, and in translating that plan into goals and strategic activities focused on both student recruitment and retention.

Lead ONU Law’s placement efforts: The dean will lead our college-wide effort to help our students obtain high quality employment, both within and outside of the legal profession. The dean will be expected to work with the Office of Career Services and with our extensive alumni network as we provide support to our students during their employment search.

Empower the faculty as teachers and scholars: Provide resources and opportunities to foster faculty development and support.

Engage with external stakeholders: The dean needs to engage with the bench, the bar (at the state, regional, and national levels), alumni, and other stakeholders to nurture and grow relationships that will support ONU Law’s academic and professional mission.

Conduct fundraising on behalf of ONU Law: The dean is charged with securing new funding sources and stewarding finances for the school. The next dean will play a key role in conjunction with the University Advancement Office and Grants Support to acquire and allocate new resources.



  • Courageously leads. Sets high standards and moves ONU Law forward, understanding when to lead by consensus and when to lead from the front. Effectively manages day-to-day affairs as well as sees the big picture, inspiring optimism for the future. Combines strong analytical skills with a concern for people and demonstrates a commitment to shared governance.
  • Builds community and is collaborative. The dean will get to know people and programs, build collaborations, and strengthen the culture and community within the Pettit College of Law and University, working as a consultative member of the University leadership team, while effectively advocating for ONU Law. Will directly engage with students, faculty, staff, and alumni and participate in the University and local community.
  • Listens well and effectively communicates. The dean will be appropriately transparent and communicate difficult decisions with clarity and sensitivity.
  • Demonstrates creativity in leading change. Is entrepreneurial in identifying areas of opportunity; works from a position of “how can we make this work?” and facilitates the creative thinking of faculty and staff. Has the political savvy and negotiation skills to move change forward.
  • Demonstrates integrity, authenticity, and a sense of humor. Clearly enjoys the role of dean.


A successful candidate must have a Juris Doctor or equivalent degree and a history of scholarly productivity and/or relevant professional experience that would allow for tenure within the Pettit College of Law at the rank of Professor.


  • Demonstrated administrative ability
  • Experience in budgeting and fiscal management
  • Experience in the assessment and management of law admissions
  • Strong connection to legal practice and bar organizations
  • Personal scholarly activity, and demonstrated support for faculty scholarship and engagement
  • Experience in higher education development and alumni relations
  • Experience in legal education


The Ohio Northern Search Committee will be evaluating applications in January 2018. Although applications will be accepted until a new dean is selected, candidates should submit their materials by January 12, 2018 for the most favorable consideration. The new dean will begin work on or about June 1, 2018. Candidates are asked to submit the following electronically (Microsoft Word or PDF):

  1. A letter of interest;
  2. A curriculum vitae;
  3. The names, email addresses and phone numbers of five professional references.

Ted Ford Webb of Ford Webb Associates is assisting with the search. Nominations and expressions of interest may be sent electronically to: If you have additional questions prior to your application, or if you would like to suggest or recommend an applicant for the position, please contact Ted Ford Webb at or 978-371-4900. 

Additional information about the University and ONU Law can be found at and Ohio Northern University is an affirmative action/equal opportunity employer. Ohio Northern University does not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, national or ethnic origin, gender, sexual orientation, age, or disability.