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University of Kentucky J. David Rosenberg College of Law Dean Mary J. Davis will step down from her position as dean and return to the faculty full time, effective June 30, 2024. Davis has led the college since July 2019, and served on the faculty since 1991. She is the first woman to serve as dean of the college.

“The season of my deanship is coming to a close,” Davis said. “It’s time for the college and for me to move to the next phase, but I am forever grateful for the opportunity to serve as dean these past years. I look forward to continuing to work alongside my exceptional faculty colleagues.”

During her tenure, the college experienced historic and unprecedented events, including the opening of a new building, major gift announcement, renaming of the college, and the unique challenges of transitioning to online instruction during the pandemic.

The Law Building reopened in August 2019 following a two-year, $56 million renovation and expansion. Davis chaired the building committee before she became dean of the college. The renovation expanded the college’s footprint 26 percent, providing more space for teaching, learning, research, practical skills training and co-curricular programming.

Soon after the building reopened, the college announced a $20 million gift from alumnus J. David Rosenberg and his wife, Dianne, to further strengthen the academic excellence of the law school. The UK Board of Trustees approved renaming the college in December 2019.

Even though law school is meant to be a collaborative and community-based environment, Davis successfully led the college through necessary adjustments and transitions, including virtual teaching and learning, during the COVID19 pandemic.

In addition, Davis has supported the expansion of community programming and outreach, including efforts to increase the law student pipeline and enhance the public understanding of law. She has supported increased diversity and inclusion initiatives, including the creation of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Student Advisory Board in 2020 and the development of a program that reengages graduates of color.

During Davis’ tenure, 10 new faculty members have been hired since 2020. In 2023, the college was ranked as the sixth Best Value Law School by National Jurist Magazine. Finally, the law school at UK has seen steady enrollment growth, and bar-passage and employment success among its graduating students.

In a recent announcement, UK Provost Robert S. DiPaola said the goal is the have the college’s next dean in place by July 1, 2024. The university is in the process of forming a search advisory committee composed of faculty, staff, students and alumni.

“We have the wind in our sails,” Davis said. “We have a top-notch program of legal education with stellar faculty, staff, administration and students. We are a great community that works together through thick and thin. This is a very attractive place to be a dean.”