Thirteen may not be lucky for some, but for legal scholar William “Chip” Carter Jr., it has been a veritable rabbit’s foot. Carter, who at 39 has built a solid teaching career and national reputation as a constitutional scholar and expert on the 13th Amendment, international human rights law and social justice issues, will bring his talents to the University of Pittsburgh School of Law as its first African-American dean effective July 1.
After he earned his law degree from Case Western Reserve in Ohio, Carter practiced corporate litigation with Squire, Sanders & Dempsey and Ropes & Gray, both in Washington, DC. But he returned to teach at Case because it afforded him the ability to pursue his scholarship.
He then moved on to Temple University’s Beasley School of Law where he taught civil rights, civil procedure, constitutional law, and litigation basics.
Pitt Chancellor Mark Nordenberg, himself a former dean of the law school, praised Carter’s appointment, calling him a “highly regarded teacher and acclaimed scholar who has earned the deep respect of his colleagues, which is reflected in the leadership positions he has held within the law faculties at Temple and Chase.”
Two weeks ago, Carter told the Pitt News he would have to meet with faculty and staff before formulating a concrete plan for the school’s future direction, but he said he wanted to focus on making sure graduates were prepared for the job search process.
He said he also wants to increase the school’s bar exam passage rate, and to make sure the school takes advantage of the opportunities presented by the innovation economy spinoffs with which the university is connected.
As for being the school’s first Black dean, Carter said he sees his appointment as a positive reflection of the school’s openness, and that he would like to increase diversity among both the faculty and student body.
“I certainly think it’s an honor,” he said. “And I hope it will project a statement about the commitment of Pitt’s law school to equal opportunity.”
The search to replace Mary Crossley, who is taking a faculty position after serving seven years as dean, started with 40 candidates, who were then winnowed down to 10.
Carter made an impression in one interview by saying if he were dean, an article in the copy of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about the school’s Innovation Practice Institute would “be in the New York Times and Washington Post.”
Pitt spokesperson Patricia White said she did not yet know if any formal welcoming event for Carter would be scheduled between now and July 1.
In addition to his impressive credentials, Carter will bring his wife Abigail Horn and daughters Rebecca and Hanna.