Boston College constitutional law scholar Aviam Soifer named new UH Law School Dean

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Jim Manke, 808-956-6099
Public Affairs - UH Manoa
Kristen Cabral, (808) 956-5039
Public Information Officer
Posted: Mar 14, 2003

The University of Hawaiʻi Board of Regents today approved the appointment of Aviam Soifer — professor and former dean of the Boston College Law School — to be new dean of the William S. Richardson School of Law. At Boston College, Soifer served as dean from 1992-1998 before resuming his teaching and research career there. He previously was a professor at Boston University School of Law and the University of Connecticut Law School.

Acknowledging the Board‘s approval of the appointment this morning, president Evan Dobelle noted "the extraordinary talent professor Soifer brings to the University of Hawaii.

"This is an important statement about a highly visible part of the university, and the fact that we have attracted a person of Avi Soifer‘s credentials speaks volumes about our national reputation," Dobelle added.

UH Manoa Chancellor Peter Englert said, "We are very pleased that someone with professor Soifer‘s highly-regarded academic and administrative background will be joining us this summer," said. "The dean is also an active scholar-researcher, and that is essential to reaffirming the university‘s place as a top caliber national research institution."

Professor Soifer joins the university as current dean Lawrence C. Foster returns to teaching after fifteen years in administration at the school.

"The Richardson School of Law has established an excellent reputation in several specialties during its distinguished 30-year history," Englert said, "and we can expect that tradition of excellence to be upheld and enhanced under Avi Soifer‘s leadership.

"I do want to acknowledge the contributions of Larry Foster to the successes of the program during his tenure as associate dean and dean," the chancellor added. "Earlier this month we were visited by an accrediting team from the American Bar Association and we believe they were very pleased with the progress the school has made over the last few years — thanks, in large part, to dean Foster‘s efforts."

Aviam Soifer has taught and written primarily in the areas of constitutional law and legal history. He is a 1972 graduate of Yale Law School, where he also earned his bachelor‘s and master‘s degrees. He served as editor of the Yale Law Journal and helped create a clinical program in which law students represented mentally ill residents of Connecticut‘s largest state hospital.

Outgoing dean Foster noted that early in the selection process Soifer emerged as the lead candidate for the UH position. "The entire law school community is very excited about this appointment," Foster said. "Dean Soifer‘s national and international reputation as a star scholar alone will greatly enhance the already strong reputation of our law school and the university. I predict that his tenure as dean will soon come to be known as the ʻglory days‘ of our school."

Soifer‘s extensive publications include Law and the Company We Keep (Harvard University Press, 1995), which was awarded the triennial Alpha Sigma Nu National Jesuit Book Prize in professional studies in 1998. Just last year he received the Boston College university-wide Distinguished Senior Research award. He was recently named a Distinguished Scholar at the University of Wisconsin Legal Studies Institute.

His most recent articles and book chapters concern religious freedom, disability rights, and issues of judging and judgment. Currently, he serves on several boards of trustees and advisory committees of public interest organizations that deal with medical care, human rights, and judicial and legal education in the US and abroad.

UH Regents approved the appointment effective July 1, 2003. Dean Soifer will receive an annual salary not to exceed $254,000.

The appointment of the new law school dean is the first of several such appointments expected over the next several weeks. Finalists have been identified for the deans‘ positions in Nursing and Dental Hygiene and for the School of Travel Industry Management. Active searches are underway as well for the dean of the School of Social Work and a director for the Pacific Biomedical Research Center, as well as permanent Vice Chancellors for Academic Affairs and for Research and Graduate Education.

"We are moving aggressively to fill key positions in the Manoa administration," chancellor Englert said. "The Manoa Strategic Plan mandates and guides changes in the campus culture, and implementation of the plan will proceed with vigor."