Although I am honoured to have been chosen to serve the people of Saskatchewan in this new capacity, I am sorry to leave the College of Law. While I am not an alumnus of the law school, it has always held a special place in my heart as the institution at which I began my career as a professor. The college’s well deserved reputation as being one of Canada’s premier law schools drew me back to it to take on the role of dean of law in 2011. I have never regretted the decision to return to the University of Saskatchewan.
During my tenure as dean, and with the assistance and support of the college’s faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends, we accomplished a great deal.
ESTABLISHMENT OF RESEARCH CHAIRS
The law school received its first ever Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Rights in Constitutional and International Law and, at the time of my departure, the college was in the midst of recruiting for a second Canada Research chair in the area of Natural Resources Law. The Estey Chair in Business Law, the College’s third endowed Chair, was established and the inaugural chairholder, Roderick Wood, from the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Law, took up this post this year.
The law school strengthened its financial support to its inner city poverty legal clinic, CLASSIC. Together, with support from generous donors such as Merlis Belsher, CLASSIC is on a stronger financial footing than ever before. Since 2011, the law school has seen the introduction of a semester-long clinical program at CLASSIC as well as the creation of clinical programs in criminal and Aboriginal law.
Pressures on the law school’s endowment have decreased through sponsorships of various moots by the Law Foundation of Saskatchewan, McDougall Gauley LLP, Robertson Stromberg LLP and Talisman Energy Inc. As a result, the University of Saskatchewan’s law school has increased the number of competitive moots for its students at a time when some other law schools have reduced the number of mooting competitions. The most recent addition to the college’s Moot teams is the Willms & Shier Environmental Law Moot.
GUEST SPEAKER SERIES
The sponsorship of the College’s Guest Speaker’s program by McKercher LLP has meant that the law school has been able to attract a greater number of high profile speakers to campus to engage with the student body and the public.
OTHER EXPERIENTIAL OPPORTUNITIES
In addition, the law school is now able to devote more of its endowed resources to fund its students to attend conferences or engage in other types of experiential learning opportunities. The law school has introduced innovative course offerings including the new Business Skills and Risk Analysis course and the Law and Happiness course. Moreover, many long existing classes, such as Wills and Civil Procedure, are undergoing reforms in order to encourage more active learning and participation among the students who will be expected to work together to complete simulated client matters arising in these areas.
ALUMNI AND STUDENT ENGAGEMENT
The past three and a half years have seen a growth in alumni engagement with the college through our highly successful centennial celebrations, the establishment of a number of annual alumni receptions in key cities, and the creation of a Dean’s Advisory Council. The college’s students are also more engaged through the creation of such initiatives as the First Year Welcoming or Black Gown Ceremony (sponsored by the Calgary law firm of Burnet, Duckworth & Palmer LLP) - a first of its kind among Canadian law schools.
In addition, scholarship support for the college’s students has soared. For example, the total value of entrance scholarships for law students has more than doubled since 2012. As a result, the law school can better compete for talented students and retain them once they are enrolled.
These accomplishments would not have been achieved without your efforts and I want to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to all of you for the generosity and the confidence that you have shown in me and in the College of Law.
The University of Saskatchewan will shortly undertake a search for a new dean. The successful candidate will lead the nationally recognized law school at a time of unprecedented change in the legal profession and education system.
Your support of the new dean and continued willingness to engage in college activities and initiatives will ensure that the law school remains at the forefront of legal scholarship and pedagogy.