After more than eight years at the helm, the Indiana University Maurer School of Law’s Austen Parrish announced today (April 7) that he is stepping down from the deanship to take on the same position with the University of California, Irvine School of Law.
He will take on his new role beginning August 3.
Parrish, one of the longer-tenured deans in the history of the Law School, will leave a legacy in Bloomington.
“The Maurer community has been nothing short of amazing since my family and I first moved to Bloomington,” Parrish said. “I want to thank all of the faculty, staff, alumni, and most importantly our students, for their incredible support over the past eight years. While I’m sad to be leaving Indiana, I know the Law School is well positioned for continued success.”
Indiana University Provost and Executive Vice President Rahul Shrivastav agreed.
“During his successful eight-year tenure as dean, Austen has overseen tremendous growth and change that have elevated the reputation of the IU Maurer School as one of the nation’s leading public law schools and prepared Maurer graduates for rewarding and consequential careers in their chosen fields,” Shrivastav said. “In my first few months here, Austen has been a key campus leader and partner to me. I will miss his counsel, but I know that he leaves behind a legacy of success at the Maurer School and throughout IU Bloomington.”
Shrivastav said he will appoint an interim dean promptly, in consultation with the school’s faculty policy committee.
Since joining the Law School in January 2014, Parrish has led a period of remarkable success, including the completion of a $60 million capital campaign, the development and implementation of a visionary strategic plan, the launch of a number of new clinics and public interest programs, and the expansion of the school’s interdisciplinary degree programs. That success was all the more meaningful as he began the deanship in the wake of the Great Recession and ended it after helping steer the school through a global pandemic.
In collaboration with the school’s admissions office, Parrish built new recruiting partnerships with more than two-dozen colleges and universities, including women’s, HBCUs and Hispanic-serving institutions, and engineering schools to attract a more diverse student body. The Law School remains the only school in the nation with a formal scholarship partnership with the U.S. Army JAG Corps and is believed to be the only school with a partnership with the Asian Pacific Islander Scholarship Fund. Long globally focused, the Law School became the only U.S. law school to partner with Fulbright UK and Fulbright Hungary and was one of a small number of schools in the U.S. to partner with Fulbright Ireland and Fulbright Mexico.
In 2019, under Parrish’s leadership, the Law School received a sizeable gift from an anonymous alumnus. Combined with leadership gifts from former Deans Lauren Robel and Alfred Aman, Parrish, and many other faculty and staff, the school established an endowed professorship in honor of an alumna – Juanita Kidd Stout – who was the first African American woman to serve on a state supreme court in the United States. It was the first named professorship in the history of Indiana University to honor an African American woman and the first in the Law School’s history to be named after a woman of color.
Alumni generosity was a hallmark of the deanship. During Parrish’s tenure as dean, seven new professorships and chairs were established, including the first-ever endowed clinical chair. The Delaney Moot Court Room, the Fromm Office of Student Affairs, the Jerome Hall Law Library, and the Stewart Center on the Global Legal Profession were all named. In 2015, the main building of the Law School was named in honor of Lowell E. Baier, ’64. Soon after the naming, facilities began to be renovated and updated, with new technology in the classrooms, new wood floors, new carpets, new furniture, and a new elevator, and the school expanded into Henderson House to provide greater space for its growing research centers. To further alumni engagement, the school established the Global Advisory Board, the Young Alumni Steering Committee, and the Family Office Advisory Board. Parrish engaged with students too, creating the Dean’s Student Advisory Council, to provide monthly input into the school’s direction.
“I’ve been one of those rare deans who has received simply tremendous support. Not only have alumni, faculty, staff, and students been unfaltering in their support, the Law School has been gifted with an extraordinary group of senior leaders who wake up every day committed to advancing the school’s mission. It has made all the difference,” said Parrish. “Long-serving Executive Associate Dean Donna Nagy and now Executive Associate Dean Christiana Ochoa are both truly remarkable and have been exceptional partners and collaborators. I am grateful for all they have done for the school. I couldn’t have asked for a more dedicated or hard-working senior leadership team.”
Working together, faculty and staff took the school to new heights as one of the most innovative and forward-thinking law schools. The Law School expanded and launched one-of-a-kind collaborative degrees with other schools, including a BS in Law and Public Policy with the O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs, a BA in International Law and Institutions with the Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies, and an MS in Cybersecurity Risk Management with the Kelley School of Business and the Luddy School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering. The school established partnerships and courses with the Hutton Honors Program and began a 3+3 program with the Wells Scholars Program. For graduate degree students, the school launched LLM specializations, a new two-year LLM with English program, and a Learning and Working Program to expand experiential opportunities. The first students in the PhD in Law and Democracy program graduated. Dozens of new joint degree programs were established with schools around the world.
The number of programs designed to expand the student experience created by faculty and the school’s centers have been dizzying in number. A sampling of the more unique programs include the Bradley Fellows in Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure, the Dean’s Writing Fellows, the Access to Justice Fellows, the CCD Fellows, the Public Service Program, and the Law and Technology Program. Some, like the Family Office Program, are the only one of their kind at a law school in the United States. New offerings implemented in recent years included the expansion of the Stewart Overseas Fellows Program, the creation of the Wintersession program, and the launch of two new student-run journals – IP Theory and Constitutional Design. New summer externship programs were created in Washington D.C., Miami, and New York, to complement the school’s long-running Semester in DC Program, and the Law School was a founding member school of the Institute for the Future of Law Practice.
Giving back to the community, partnering with local non-profits, and serving the state has been important too. The school cemented and expanded its relationship with the Conservation Law Center; launched its new Intellectual Property clinic; restarted its NonProfit Organizations clinic and Tenant Assistance Project; and created the Expungement Help Desk Project, the Wills Assistance Project, the Habeas Litigation Practicum, the PatentConnect Program, and the Rural Justice Initiative. Students began receiving recognition at graduation for their pro bono service, and together with the school’s Access to Justice Program, the school expanded the annual awards recognition for students performing pro bono service. Several years ago, Parrish directed an almost $1 million endowment gift to support students working in unpaid summer public service jobs with summer funding.
Students thrived. Student debt levels dropped each year over a five-year period. Early in the deanship, Parrish froze tuition, which guaranteed students flat tuition during their law school careers. The Back Home Again program created scholarships to provide in-state tuition rate for those who grew up in Indiana but lost residency. The same success occurred with Career Services. Thanks to efforts by the hard-working staff, the school reached record high levels of employment this year. The school’s innovative Legal Profession I course and a three-track approach to its Legal Profession II course remains a model for schools. The Jerome Hall Law Library dramatically grew its programming, and the Office of Student Affairs expanded the programming provided students, with new staff and a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Student quality was a top priority.
In his time as dean, Parrish nurtured and promoted faculty excellence.
“One of the things I am most proud of is the talented faculty who have joined the Maurer School of Law during my tenure,” said Parrish. While gifted new scholars and teachers joined the Law School’s ranks, more senior faculty reached new heights. A number of faculty were inducted in the American Law Institute over the past eight years, two faculty were appointed prestigious Herman B. Wells Professors, one faculty member was named a University Distinguished Professor, another won the IU Outstanding Junior Faculty Award (the first time since 1992), two faculty participated in Princeton’s prestigious Program in Law and Public Affairs fellowships, and several more received prestigious Fulbright awards.
“There’s something special about being on Indiana University’s flagship Bloomington campus as one of the nation’s leading research universities, and the Law School’s faculty are part of that tradition as truly exceptional interdisciplinary scholars,” Parrish added.
Outside of administration, Parrish was an active scholar and teacher. An expert in transnational law and litigation, he continued publishing in leading law journals and teaching a variety of courses. He usually taught every year during the deanship, and three times taught seminars in in IU’s prestigious Wells Scholars program, where he was twice named a Wells Scholars Professor. He was also deeply involved in legal education at a national level, and one of a very small number of deans nationwide to be so active.
He has served on the board of AccessLex Institute, as well as on the Executive Committee, the Deans Steering Committee, and the Membership Review Committee (which he chaired) for the Association of American Law School. In 2019, he was elected into the American Law Institute. That same year the Indiana Supreme Court appointed him to the Study Commission on the Future of the Indiana Bar Examination. He often hosted the Law School Deans Group of the Big 10 Academic Alliance, and in 2020 he organized and hosted the Big 10 Law Deans Speaker Series on Race, Law, and Equality.
Parrish’s enthusiasm and pride for the school and its 180-year history was unprecedented. Rare was the day, or even hour, when he wasn’t sharing news from the school to one of his many social media accounts—accounts that he himself managed. And it was nearly impossible to visit the Starbucks on Indiana Avenue without running into Parrish at some point in the day. When addressing admitted students every spring, he offered—and stayed true to his word—to buy a cup of coffee for any student when they joined the school.
It was an offer frequently accepted by members of the Maurer community.
Parrish’s last day at the Law School will be in early July.