PHOENIX (Feb. 12) — Arizona Summit School of Law (Summit) has appointed Professor Penny Willrich as interim dean. Dean Willrich is a charter member of the Summit faculty, served as a Maricopa County Superior Judge, and previously served as Summit’s Dean of Academic Affairs.
Dean Willrich succeeds Shirley Mays, who has been dean since 2010. During her tenure, Dean Mays provided strong leadership in curricular reform that enhanced the school’s ability to provide students with a practice-ready curriculum. Dean Mays’ commitment to inclusiveness has been instrumental in earning Summit numerous awards for diversity and advancing it toward its goal of diversifying the legal profession in Arizona, where 8% of its lawyers are minorities, compared with a state minority population of 40%.
President Donald Lively notes that “Dean Mays has provided the school with the leadership it needed during a critical stage of its life cycle, which has been characterized by a challenging market environment and the rigors of institution building.” Dean Mays will remain on the faculty and assume responsibilities for facilitating Summit’s integration into a university pursuant to a planned acquisition of Summit.
Commenting upon her successor, Dean Mays observes that “Dean Willrich has been a true role model for our students, staff, and faculty. She brings compassion and accountability to her role and we are enthusiastically anticipating her leadership.” President Lively notes that Dean Willrich’s “dedication to our mission and students has been unswerving. She was the second person I hired when I came to Phoenix to help start the institution. It was clear to me she was someone whom we could build the school around. Her impact over the years strongly validates the decision.”
Dean Willrich says “Dean Mays established a strong foundation for the school, and I look forward to my new role in building upon it and advancing our mission. It is a joy to have the opportunity to collaboratively lead a community of dedicated students, caring educators and innovative staff, and I appreciate the valuable and selfless support Dean Mays is providing for our transition.”
Dean Willrich’s top priority as interim dean is to ensure that Summit provides an exceptional legal education for its students. The school equips students with the legal knowledge and skills they need for future success. Summit must continue training the next generation of leaders so that its students are equipped to reach their full potential.
“I want Summit to be the go to law school for non-traditional law students and to continue our efforts in helping underserved students earn a law degree,” says dean Willrich. “I look forward to working with the dedicated faculty and staff of Summit and leading Summit to its next level of greatness.”
Dean Willrich assumed the interim deanship on January 1, 2017.