UA Law School dean to step down in 2022, remain on faculty

by Jeff Della Rosa ([email protected]) 2,061 views 

Margaret Sova McCabe has been dean of the University of Arkansas School of Law since July 1, 2018. She previously served in two associate dean roles and as tenured professor at the law school for the University of New Hampshire, a public, land-grant and flagship university.

The University of Arkansas will soon begin a search for the next dean of the School of Law following the announcement that Margaret Sova McCabe will step down at the end of the academic year, according to a Tuesday (Oct. 19) news release.

McCabe has served as the dean since 2018. According to the release, she will leave the position on June 30, 2022, but remain on faculty as a law professor.

An interim dean will be named for the academic year 2022-23, the release shows. Interim Provost Terry Martin will convene a committee to search for the next dean. Details are expected to be announced in the coming months.

“I would like to thank Dean McCabe for her leadership and recognize the School of Law’s many accomplishments under her direction,” Martin said. “I’m very thankful that she will remain on faculty at the U of A, continuing to share her immense expertise with our students moving forward.”

McCabe, the law school’s 13th dean, is the third consecutive woman to serve in the role.

“I’m excited to re-engage in my teaching and research interests while expanding my campus and national collaborations with a variety of faculty and administrative colleagues next year,” McCabe said. “The timing of this news ensures that the provost will have adequate time to consult with the faculty regarding the leadership transition so that we can remain institutionally strong. Despite changing roles at the end of the academic year, my enthusiastic support of our university and the law school community will not waver.”

As dean, McCabe created an integrated approach to student success including integrating advising, career services and externships, and academic support, according to the release. She also took steps to advance the school’s approach to diversity, equity and inclusion “to foster a dynamic, inclusive culture for the law school’s students, faculty and staff.”

The following are highlights of the law school under McCabe’s leadership:

  • Named among top 20 best values in legal education, ranking 13th for 2021 by National Jurist publication “preLaw”
  • Listed among top 15 schools for prestigious federal clerkship placements by “preLaw”
  • Established a Summer Public Service Fellowship Program in 2019 that provided paid fellowships to law students interested in public service careers
  • Started Dean’s Circle Faculty Awards to recognize excellence in teaching and advising, research and scholarship, and public service
  • Welcomed five faulty members
  • The 2021 incoming class was the largest with a median LSAT score of 156 and median GPA of 3.6. Half of the class comprised women, and 25% were students of color.

Before joining the UA, McCabe was a faculty member of the University of New Hampshire School of Law and served as its associate dean for academic affairs and associate dean for academic administration. She served in the roles during the integration of the Franklin Pierce Law Center, an independent law school that pioneered intellectual property education, into the University of New Hampshire. While there, McCabe also was a faculty fellow in food systems at the UNH Sustainability Institute and an affiliate faculty member at the Carsey School of Public Policy.

McCabe’s teaching portfolio includes administrative law and process, food law and policy, and in Arkansas, she recently co-taught an Honors College seminar entitled, Food Matters. The course offered interdisciplinary perspectives on foods systems, including agricultural economics, production and law.

In her research, McCabe has focused on regulatory and legal issues in the food system including obesity, food marketing, scientific standards and food labeling, sustainable food system design and the government’s development of dietary guidelines.

McCabe is a graduate of Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y., where she was one of the first students to pursue an interdisciplinary sustainability program. She earned her law degree from the University of Maine where she served as an articles editor on Maine Law’s Ocean & Coastal Law Journal. She served in the New Hampshire Department of Safety’s Commissioner’s Office and practiced law in New Hampshire and Maine.

Link here for a 2019 article on McCabe published in the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal.