Academics and Research / Magazine Feature

Katz takes the helm at Sturm College of Law

As a professor and attorney, Martin Katz has specialized for years in employment law. Now, he’s the boss.

Katz began the summer as the new interim dean at DU’s Sturm College of Law. It’s a temporary title as DU embarks on a search for a permanent replacement for recently departed dean José (Beto) Juárez. Katz says he’s determined to make the best use of his time at the helm by working with his fellow faculty members to help them shape a clear direction for a law school that is traditionally ranked among the nation’s best.

“What’s important first is for us to have a strategic plan,” Katz says. “And that really needs to come from the faculty. It needs to be their plan.”

To that end, Katz asked Professor KK DuVivier to head up the Faculty Executive Committee. The committee will work with the entire faculty to help define what the law school wants to be and where it wants to go in the future.

While the Sturm College of Law can offer a solid foundation in all areas of law, it will need to determine where to focus resources to truly excel on a national and international level, Katz says.

“We’ve come to the realization that we can’t be the best at everything,” he says. “We can be good at everything, but we can’t be the best. We need to pick those areas that we will be the best at.”

Areas under consideration include environmental law, international law, employment law and law clinics that engage students in real world cases involving civil rights, the environment and civil law. But those aren’t the only areas that could be targeted for growth and attention. The Faculty Executive Committee will explore all areas and look for programs where DU is poised to excel, Katz says. And in each case, he says, there appears to be a feeling that a theoretical background in the law should be complimented with practical application.

“Legal education is either changing or due for a change,” he says.

While he works with faculty members to help plot a course for the Sturm College of Law, Katz says he’s also eager to help develop the faculty, to help instructors focus on teaching and to help researchers and writers produce results.

“It’s important how we use our professors’ time,” he says. “Our faculty is our most important resource. What can we do to make sure their time is best used?”

All of that work, he says, should help with a bigger picture: community. Katz says he wants to build community support across the board including alumni, students, faculty, the Colorado Bar Association and DU’s own top administrators and trustees.

“We’re lucky,” he says. “We have this group of people who are tremendously interested in what goes on at our law school. That’s an opportunity.”

At 44, the Harvard University and Yale law graduate says he still loves scholarship, writing and teaching. Administration, he says, is something new. The search for a new, permanent dean may take more than a year, and during that time, Katz says he’s committed to doing the best job he can. If at the end of the day he can’t bear being away from the classroom and the scholarship, he says he’ll go back to his job as a professor. And if fate leads him to hold the dean’s chair longer, that might be a good thing, too.

“Right now, I love the teaching and writing part,” he says. “That’s my sanity time. I do hope to keep up with some of the scholarly projects … I’m an eternal optimist.”

Comments are closed.