Mark Brown and Liam James Doyle / University of St. Thomas

Law School Names Interim Dean, Associate Dean

The University of St. Thomas appointed Joel Nichols interim dean of the School of Law, following the selection of current Dean Robert Vischer as interim university president. Nichols joined the law school faculty in 2007, serving as associate dean for academic affairs for the past nine years. Law Professor Elizabeth (Lisa) Schiltz will now serve as interim associate dean for academic affairs. They will assume their new roles effective June 1.

“Joel has served the School of Law with distinction,” St. Thomas Executive Vice President and Provost Eddy Rojas said. “Among the many qualities that qualify Joel for this role are his integrity, judgment, system thinking, vision, patience, managerial acumen, day-to-day experience with the inner workings of the school, and his successful tenure as associate dean. I am looking forward to working with Joel over the next academic year.”

Joel Nichols, academic dean for the School of Law, is set to become interim dean, effective June 2022. Liam James Doyle / University of St. Thomas

While associate dean for academic affairs, Nichols has played a lead role in matters involving faculty, curriculum, academic programs and accreditation. He has worked closely with staff and faculty to ensure a high-quality J.D. student educational experience through classroom instruction, experiential learning opportunities and academic support. Nichols also has provided guidance and support to St. Thomas Law's LL.M. in U.S. Law and Organizational Ethics and Compliance programs.

“During my 15 years here, I have experienced firsthand the strength of the St. Thomas community, and I’m excited to step into a new role to continue fostering this central aspect of our identity and advancing our mission,” Nichols said. “The past two years have underscored just how important authentic connection is to who we are and our capacity to do excellent work, and we have a unique chance to seek that connection together in the coming months and beyond.”

Schiltz, the Herrick Professor of Law and Thomas J. Abood Research Scholar, is a founding faculty member at the law school, which opened in 2001. Throughout her tenure, Schiltz has received numerous law school awards, including the Dean's Award for Outstanding Scholarship, Mission Awards for Scholarly Engagement and Societal Reform and the Dean's Award for Outstanding Teaching.

School of Law Professor Elizabeth "Lisa" Schiltz will become interim associate dean in June 2022. Mark Brown / University of St. Thomas

“Joel is perfectly positioned to continue the law school’s forward momentum as interim dean,” Vischer said. “He is committed to our mission, and he has a track record of student-centered leadership in helping the law school navigate myriad challenges over the past nine years.

“Lisa Schiltz understands what it takes to build a mission-centered law school,” he added. “She is always meticulously prepared as a teacher and scholar, and she will bring that commitment to excellence to her new role. She will be an outstanding associate dean for academic affairs.”