Monday, March 23, 2009

A Message from Yale University President Richard C. Levin

To the Law School Community:

All of us at Yale are delighted with the news that President Barack Obama intends to nominate Harold Hongju Koh, Dean of the Law School, to be the 22nd Legal Adviser of the U.S. Department of State. Throughout his twenty-four years at Yale, Harold Koh has been a leader in the field of international law, and he has been one of the Law School’s most popular teachers. For the past five years, he has served with distinction as Dean. He has demonstrated extraordinary commitment, working tirelessly and effectively on every front. He has brought spirit to every corner of the School, secured resources for its advancement, and pointed it toward 21st century commitments to globalization, public service, closer ties to the profession, and renewal of its faculty and resources. I look forward to a later occasion, after his new appointment is completed, to thank Dean Koh more fully for his outstanding efforts and accomplishments.

To permit Dean Koh to focus on preparation for his important new responsibility, after consultation with a number of senior members of the faculty, I have asked Kate Stith, Lafayette S. Foster Professor of Law, to begin serving immediately as Acting Dean of Yale Law School. Upon Dean Koh’s confirmation, she will continue to serve as Acting Dean until a search process is completed and a successor appointed. Professor Stith is a highly respected scholar, teacher, and colleague both at the Law School and in the broader University. She has a deep knowledge of the operation and administration of the Law School, having served as Deputy Dean of the School for three years during the deanship of Anthony T. Kronman, and on the budget and appointments committees under Dean Koh; she currently serves as chair of the Budget Committee. Professor Stith has also worked closely with me and with the Provost’s Office on a variety of matters. Last year, she chaired the faculty committee that is charged every five years with reviewing all aspects of the School’s operation; that committee delivered its detailed assessment of the ‘state of the School’ just a few months ago. I am delighted and grateful that she is willing now to take on this transitional leadership role at the Law School at such an important moment.

Professor Stith teaches and writes in the areas of criminal law and procedure, comparative criminal law, criminal sentencing, federal criminal prosecution, university governance, government ethics, and congressional budget law. The principal author of Fear of Judging: Sentencing Guidelines in the Federal Courts, which was awarded the Certificate of Merit by the American Bar Association, she is a leader in developing the field of sentencing law, which is at the intersection of substantive criminal law, criminal procedure, constitutional law, and comparative criminal law. Her current projects include co-authorship of a textbook on federal criminal law and a textbook on criminal procedure. She is an Advisor to the American Law Institute’s Model Penal Code: Sentencing project, and previously served, by appointment of the Chief Justice of the United States, on the Advisory Committee on the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure of the U.S. Judicial Conference. She also serves on the board of advisors of several scholarly journals. In 2008 she completed a term of three years as a Fellow of the Whitney Humanities Center, the last two years on the Center’s Executive Committee. She was appointed by the Governor of Connecticut as a member of the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women, is a past president of the Connecticut Bar Foundation, and is the faculty sponsor of the non-partisan Women’s Campaign School at Yale. She is a member of the American Law Institute and the Council on Foreign Relations, and served as a Trustee of Dartmouth College for more than a decade.

Kate Stith came to Yale Law School as an Associate Professor of Law in 1985, after having served as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Southern District of New York, where she prosecuted white-collar and organized crime. She previously was on the staff of the President’s Council of Economic Advisors, a special assistant to the Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, and a law clerk to Judge Carl McGowan of the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and to Justice Byron R. White of the U.S. Supreme Court. She became Professor of Law in 1991, and the Lafayette S. Foster Professor of Law in 1998. She is a graduate of Dartmouth College, the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, and Harvard Law School.

I know that the entire Law School community will salute Dean Koh as he prepares to make an important contribution to the nation and the world. And I know that you will join me in welcoming Professor Stith to her new role.

Sincerely yours,

Richard C. Levin

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