Dean, Simmons Law School


Southern Illinois University Carbondale
Simmons Law School

Southern Illinois University Simmons Law School invites nominations and applications for the next Dean. We seek a dynamic, experienced leader with a demonstrated understanding of legal education, institutional growth and development, and the current and future challenges facing law schools.

SIU Simmons Law is a small regional public law school with a strong past and a bright future. We just celebrated our 50th anniversary, successfully completed our ABA reaccreditation site visit, and received a $10 million gift. Our students have experienced many successes too, including winning a national moot court competition two years in a row. We are looking for a Dean who will capture the moment of these successes and guide us into the future.

Founded in 1973, with the goal of serving the area's unmet legal needs, we hold true to our foundational motto: "Established in the public interest, serving the public good." As the only public law school in the area, we pride ourselves on providing an accessible, collegial learning environment that transforms students into practice-ready lawyers and community leaders. This transformative process incorporates a robust focus on teaching, innovative research and advocacy projects, a pro bono requirement, and experiential learning. Our clinical programs and externship opportunities hone students' skills and offer access to justice for many who would otherwise go without legal assistance. Our law library is the primary public legal research resource for the southern portion of the state.

SIU Simmons Law faculty consists of active public service advocates who engage and publish on the local, state, and national levels. These same faculty members are also effective, energetic, and productive educators and scholars who teach and publish in a broad range of subject-matter arenas. The law school staff is hard-working, team-oriented and fun. Though still a young school, SIU Simmons Law also possesses the distinction of having more than 180 current or former judges among the ranks of its alumni.

Our comparatively low tuition provides students with the financial freedom to pursue whatever legal career they choose, as they graduate with law school debt that is below the national average. All students pay the in-state tuition rate and more than 78% of our students receive scholarships. The low cost helps us draw a diverse enrollment from across the United States. Our student body is comprised of 47% women, and 31% of our 2023 first-year students were students of color. We are serving the Southern Illinois region and at the same time have a growing national base of alumni.

We aim to return to our historically high bar passage rates and live up to our reputation for producing practice-ready attorneys. Attorneys throughout Southern Illinois and beyond depend on us, and we work hard to deliver qualified practitioners to meet the need for legal services. We collaborate on a constant basis to make sure our teaching is rigorous, and we are reaching our students. Our best asset in addressing these challenges is our student body. They are engaged, and they take advantage of the learning community we have built here.

SIU Simmons Law is located on the Carbondale campus of a multi-campus university system. Our campus is a Carnegie-classified research institution. This allows us to offer joint-degree programs for students and cross-appointments for faculty with other SIU schools and departments, including medicine and business.

Our next Dean will be able to build on a strong base at the university, local, state, national, and international levels. Your vision can shape how we deliver on our mission.

About SIU Carbondale

Nestled in the beautiful hills of Southern Illinois, SIU is a Research University: High Research Activity and a 2015 Community Engagement Campus, as classified by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. With an enrollment of approximately 11,500 students, SIU offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in eight colleges/schools, as well as professional practice degrees in the Schools of Medicine and Law. SIU embraces a unique tradition of access and opportunity, inclusive excellence, innovation in research and creativity, and outstanding teaching and services focused on student success. The University is committed to a mission of successfully educating and graduating a diverse student population including minority, international, first-generation students, and differently abled students.

Carbondale, Illinois, is in a region characterized by its natural beauty with the Shawnee National Forest, Giant City State Park, and other outdoor opportunities minutes away. The city is a hub for the region yet maintains a small town feel with college town amenities. It is also easily accessible to a host of midwestern (e.g., St. Louis, Indianapolis) and southern (e.g., Nashville, Memphis) cities within a two-to-four-hour drive. The local airport offers a connection to Chicago’s O'Hare airport. 

SIU-Carbondale is embarking on the first year of its transformative strategic plan, Imagine 2030. Under the guidance of the Chancellor, the university has established five foundational pillars to provide faculty, staff, and strategic partners with clear direction:

  • Student Success & Engagement
  • Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
  • Branding & Partnerships
  • Research & Innovation
  • Sustainability

These pillars serve as focal points for planning and resource allocation, ensuring alignment with the university's overarching vision. SIU-Carbondale has structured its objectives and initiatives around these pillars, aiming to achieve measurable outcomes and introduce innovative endeavors in the years ahead. Join us in shaping the future of higher education through impactful goals and collaborative efforts.


As the chief executive and academic officer of the SIU Simmons Law School, the Dean reports to the Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and works with the faculty and staff in the development and maintenance of the Law School's programs and policies. The duties of the Dean include but are not limited to:

  1. Providing leadership to advance the law school's mission, including leveraging current resources to position SIU Simmons Law School advantageously within the changing landscape of legal education and law practice. 
  2. Serving as a member of the Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Deans' Council.
  3. Participating in and representing the law school at university-wide activities.
  4. Contributing to university-wide initiatives proposed from the office of the Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs.
  5. Serving as chief administrative officer of the law school, which includes responsibility for:
  • Managing the school's finances, including development and implementation of the budget.
  • Continuing a strong fundraising record.
  • Supervising, evaluating, and promoting the advancement and well-being of the school's personnel and students, as well as fostering a collaborative sense of community within the school.
  • Developing institutional advancement and serving as the law school's liaison to a variety of outside constituencies, including the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, the university, alumni, the bar, Carbondale, Southern Illinois, the state, and the legal academy.
  • Providing leadership to advance the University's mission of promoting inclusive excellence, cultural and professional competency, and diversity.
  • Enhancing and inspiring an academic climate that will foster excellence in teaching, research, and scholarly activity, including intellectual property development, and service.
  • Developing and supporting programs and student services for the recruitment, retention, advisement, and placement of a diverse body of students.
  • Responding promptly and effectively to the needs of students.
  • In a spirit of shared governance, assuring that the affairs of the law school are conducted in accordance with all relevant federal and state statutes, regulations, directives of the Illinois Board of Higher Education, ABA and other relevant accreditation standards, by-laws and decisions of the SIU Board of Trustees, University policies, and the School of Law's operating papers.


  • A J.D. or equivalent degree from a nationally accredited law school and qualifications meriting appointment to the rank of full Professor with tenure in the School of Law, including an outstanding record as a teacher and scholar.
  • Administrative experience, preferably at the law-school level, including experience with administrative responsibilities, such as: budget, planning, personnel, student matters, promotion and tenure review, and/or substantially similar matters.
  • Demonstrated experience with fundraising, or an ability to develop and implement successful fundraising programs.
  • Commitment to academic values, including excellence in teaching and research, academic freedom, and university and community service by those within the law school.
  • Commitment to providing quality legal education at a small, student-centered, public law school, apparent from facility with and/or respect for, but not limited to, data-driven decision making, best pedagogical practices, emerging education theory and methods, and ethics of the legal profession which includes an awareness of proven methodology; the ethics of the profession; and new trends and ideas.
  • Commitment to diversity and inclusiveness in the faculty, staff, and student body, and transparency in administration.
  • Ability to provide effective leadership within a university environment, including the empathy and integrity needed to develop productive relationships with the School of Law's faculty, staff, and within the university community, while promoting a positive image of the School of Law to the bar, public, and legal academy.

Application Process

The search committee invites letters of nomination, applications (letter of interest, complete CV, and references) or expressions of interest to be submitted to the search firm assisting the University. Confidential review of materials will begin immediately and continue until the appointment is made. It is preferred, however, that all nominations and applications be submitted prior to September 1, 2024 to:

Porsha L. Williams, Vice President
Erin Raines, Senior Principal
Scott Gaffney, Executive Recruiting Coordinator
Parker Executive Search Five Concourse Parkway, Suite 2875 Atlanta, GA 30328 || ||
Phone: (770) 804-1996 x 109 or 117

This is a security-sensitive position. Before any offer of employment is made, the University will conduct a pre-employment background investigation that includes a criminal background check.

***SIU Carbondale is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer of individuals with disabilities and protected veterans that strives to enhance its ability to develop a diverse faculty and staff and to increase its potential to serve a diverse student population. All applications are welcomed and encouraged and will receive consideration.