Monday, March 23, 2009

A Message from Dean Harold Hongju Koh

To: The Yale Law School Community

Dear Friends:

I wanted you to know that today, President Obama is announcing his intent to nominate me as The Legal Adviser of the United States Department of State. If confirmed, I will resign as Dean of Yale Law School and take a public service leave from my professorship. As you will shortly hear from President Levin, an Acting Dean will be appointed immediately to assume my day-to-day duties, while I prepare for an upcoming confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

There is no institution I love more than the Yale Law School. I have had the privilege of teaching here since 1985, and serving as your Dean since 2004. If confirmed, I will step down as Dean. As a professor, I plan to take a leave of absence and to return here to teach again once my public service is over. Over these past five years, no dean could have been luckier: in my remarkable faculty colleagues; in the spectacular students who have taught me so much; in the loyal alumni who have supported us so generously; in the dedicated staff--particularly my fellow deans and friends in the Dean’s Office-- who have shared my love for this place; and in the rare opportunity to serve at this great university under President Levin’s inspired leadership.

But from my first day as Dean, I have spoken of Yale Law School’s abiding commitments to public service, globalization, and the profession. I have urged my students to live their lives as lawyers by using their passion and training to build a better world. President Obama and Secretary Clinton have now offered me an opportunity to live those commitments myself, by joining their effort to help our country live up to its own best standards and principles.

We are planning an all-school meeting in the Law School Auditorium tomorrow, Tuesday, March 24, 2009 at 2:30 p.m. to introduce the Acting Dean and to answer any questions you might have. I am happy to answer questions about my own situation; the Acting Dean will answer questions about the School. I certainly hope you can attend. Obviously, if you are in class during that time, that should take priority.

For now, I simply wanted to thank you for all you have done for me and my family these past five years. I will miss you. But as you know, New Haven has been my home since 1961, and my family, friends and roots are all here. There is no place like this place. Please know that you will be my source of inspiration and comfort in the months ahead.

With heartfelt thanks and affection,


Harold Hongju Koh

Dean, Yale Law School

Read the White House press release announcing President Obama's intent to nominate Koh