Judge John L. Carroll, dean of Samford University's Cumberland School of Law since 2001, will step down and return to the classroom after completing his 12th year as dean June 30, 2013.
"There is nothing mystical about my decision," Judge Carroll said in announcing his plans Monday, June 25. "I have simply decided that it is time to take a step back and return full time to my real love in legal education--teaching."
Carroll, the Ethel P. Malugen Professor of Law at Cumberland, has enjoyed a distinguished career in law. Prior to being named Cumberland dean, he served as United States Magistrate Judge in the Middle District of Alabama for more than 14 years. He was also professor of law at Mercer University School of Law and legal director of the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Ala., prior to becoming a judge. He twice has argued cases before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Carroll is a graduate of Tufts University who holds the juris doctor law degree magna cum laude from Cumberland and master of laws from Harvard University. A native of Washington, D.C., he is a veteran of the Vietnam War with more than 200 missions as a flight officer in the U.S. Marine Corps.
"John Carroll has been a highly effective and successful dean for the Cumberland School of Law," said Samford Provost and Executive Vice President J. Bradley Creed. "He has a remarkable ability to focus on the strategic initiatives that have been crucial for the law school's progress. He is also a gifted communicator and speaker who has been an invaluable ambassador for the university in addressing legal and public issues and building bridges to alumni and other constituents.
"John has lived an interesting life, and his noteworthy background and experiences--from Marine flight officer to federal magistrate judge to triathelete--all prepared him for the capstone of an extraordinary career as dean of the Cumberland School of Law."
Carroll's leadership of the law school has been "significant and broad-ranging," said retired vice dean James N. Lewis, Jr. Among many accomplishments, Lewis noted that Carroll was responsible for soliciting major gifts to renovate law school courtrooms and fund professorial chairs and scholarships, expanding an emphasis on public service and global awareness, and providing leadership in the evolving discipline of Electronic Discovery.
Carroll made getting to know students and alumni a high priority, said alumni relations director Anne Marovich, and stressed the theme of public service.
"With the possible exceptions of Judges Nathan Green, Sr., and Abraham Caruthers (early Cumberland professors), Judge John Carroll is the Cumberland lawyer to have contributed the most to the academic success and prestige of the law school," said Cumberland graduate Julian Mann III, chief administrative law judge of the North Carolina Office of Administrative Hearings.
Carroll noted that, for a law dean, he has been around a long time.
"The average tenure of a law school dean is less than five years," he said. "There are currently only 17 law school deans in the country out of the almost 200 who have been serving longer than I have."
Carroll believes Cumberland "is well-positioned for future success," he said. The faculty is composed "of high quality scholar-teachers who are also wonderful people," the staff is "exceptional" and "alumni support is at an all-time high."
Carroll already is very familiar with the classroom, having taught courses in Federal Court, Complex Litigation, Mediation, Evidence and Trial Practice, and an online course in E-Discovery and Evidence over the years at Cumberland.
"I have been honored and privileged to be Cumberland's dean," said Carroll. "I look forward to joining what I consider to be the finest law school faculty in the country in a year and to continue serving Cumberland for many years to come."