University of La Verne Announces Gilbert A. Holmes as New Dean of the College of Law

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Gilbert Holmes, an experienced and award-winning legal educator and administrator, will be the new dean of the University of La Verne College of Law in Ontario, California. University President Devorah Lieberman announced the selection of Holmes, professor of Law and former dean at the University of Baltimore School of Law, today at the La Verne Law campus.

“La Verne Law presents a nearly irresistible opportunity."
-- Gilbert Holm

Gilbert Holmes, an experienced and award-winning legal educator and administrator, has been selected as the new dean of the University of La Verne College of Law. University President Devorah Lieberman announced the appointment today during a meeting at the La Verne Law campus in Ontario, Calif.

Holmes, professor of law and former dean at University of Baltimore School of Law, is scheduled to officially assume his duties on July 1, 2013, or earlier if circumstances permit. His appointment marks the conclusion of an extensive national search.

“It is a pleasure to welcome Gilbert Holmes to the University of La Verne community. The task put before the search committee was to identify the best candidate who could bring vision, energy and commitment to this vital position at the College of Law. They have succeeded in doing just that,” President Lieberman said. “His values mirror those of the university’s mission, and his professional strengths and insights make him the right choice at the right time to lead the College of Law.”

According to University Provost Dr. Gregory Dewey, the appointment of Holmes will have a transformational impact on the law school, its students and the entire region.

“Gilbert Holmes possesses a deep understanding of legal education and extensive administrative experience that will be a tremendous benefit for our students, our faculty and staff, and the local legal community,” Provost Dewey said. “This is an exciting time for our College of Law and a time of dynamic change for legal education in general. Gil Holmes is uniquely qualified and eminently prepared to develop La Verne Law to be an exemplary, innovative institution.”

Holmes succeeds Philip Hawkey, who was appointed acting dean in January 2012.

During his nearly 23 years in legal education, Holmes has served as a faculty member and administrator at several distinguished law schools. He was dean and taught at the University of Baltimore School of Law from 2001-07, where he remains on faculty as professor of law. During his time at UB School of Law, he also spent two semesters as a visiting professor at Florida A&M University College of Law. And in 2010 he founded the Charles Hamilton Houston Scholars Program, which equips under-represented college freshmen and sophomores with the educational and academic success skills to improve their undergraduate performance and enhance their opportunity for admission to and success in law school.

Holmes said he is honored to be selected as dean of La Verne Law and looks forward to helping the law school grow and flourish.

“La Verne Law presents a nearly irresistible opportunity. Its size will allow it to be nimble enough to make innovative changes while strengthening many of the traditional roles law schools have played in training advocates and leaders,” Holmes said. “Because of its location, La Verne Law has been and can continue to be a dynamic force in Inland Southern California as well as a resource for this changing, developing and expanding region. Inland Southern California, the state and the nation present a tremendous market for this institution and its graduates to make a lasting impact. The potential is almost limitless.”

Prior to his tenure in Baltimore, Holmes taught and was an associate dean at Texas Wesleyan University School of Law for nearly five years, served as visiting associate professor at Southern Methodist University Law School, and was an associate professor at Seton Hall University Law School.

While his years as dean at UB School of Law provide an obvious benefit, Holmes feels all his experiences – especially his work at Texas Wesleyan – have helped prepare him for his new position at La Verne.

“There are a number of parallels between Texas Wesleyan and La Verne. Both share similar views on access and mission. Both are relatively small schools located near large metropolitan centers. And both have law campuses that are separated by about the same distance from their main campuses,” Holmes said. “When I first started at Texas Wesleyan, they were at the same stage of moving from being provisionally approved by the ABA to fully approved. I was there to see how it should be done and will bring that experience to the effort here at La Verne.”

In the coming months, Holmes said he intends to visit both the law school in Ontario and the main campus in La Verne so he can meet with community members and become better acquainted with the university.

Holmes’ professional legal experience includes 16 years as a private practitioner in New York City, more than four years as a court-appointed claims administrator for the Baltimore City Circuit Court, more than two years as tripartite arbitrator for the New York City Transit Authority, a year as director of the New York Civil Liberties Union Suffolk County Police Misconduct Project.

During his years of professional activities, Holmes has been involved with the American Bar Association as a member of the Accreditation Committee for the ABA Section on Legal Education and Admission to the Bar and by being on both the ABA Committee on Pre-Law Advising the ABA Standing Committee on Continuing Legal Education. His participation with the Association of American Law Schools includes being on Section on Family & Juvenile Law and the Section on Part Time Divisions executive committees, and as a member of the Membership Review Committee. He also was an inaugural member of the Maryland Judicial Campaign Conduct Committee and is a former member and past president of the Board of Trustees for the Maryland Institute for Continuing Professional Education for Lawyers.

A New York state native, Holmes was born in Brooklyn and was raised in Mount Vernon. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from Bucknell University (Pa.) and a juris doctor from New York University School of Law.

Holmes has been honored many times during his career. In 2007 UB School of Law established the Dean Gilbert A. Holmes Professorship in Clinical Theory & Practice. That same year the NYU Law Alumni Association presented him with its Legal Teaching Award. Other honors include the Monumental City Bar Association (Baltimore) 2006 Outstanding Service in Legal Teaching Award; the National Black Law Students Association’s inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005; the National Bar Association’s 2002 Presidential Achievement Award for Outstanding Service in Legal Education; the NYU School of Law Black, Latino & Asian Pacific Alumni Association 2002 Outstanding Alumnus of the Year Award; and he is a two-time recipient (1998, 2000) of the Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award from Texas Wesleyan University School of Law.

An engaged community member, Holmes has served on the Board of Trustees at Bucknell University, Greenhill School (PreK-12) of Dallas, and Woodward Park School (PreK-8) of Brooklyn. He is co-facilitator for the middle school class and is former director of Men-in-Ministry at Celebration Church in Columbia, Md., and is an executive elder with Celebration United: A Church Development Network.

His wife of 33 years, Joy Clarke-Holmes, is a senior level executive in the energy services performance contracting industry. She has worked the past 12 years for Johnson Controls, most recently as a regional vice president and general manager.

They have two children. Kwame Holmes graduated Magna Cum Laude from Florida A&M with a bachelor’s degree in American History/African-American Studies, and earned a Ph.D. in American History from the University of Illinois-Champagne/Urbana. A Post-Doctoral Fellow at the University of Virginia’s Carter G. Woodson Institute for African-American and African Studies (2011-13), he is scheduled to join the faculty at the University of Colorado Boulder this summer as an assistant professor of history. Rashida Holmes, who attended the University of Pittsburgh and Baltimore International College, works in the culinary industry, most recently in Pittsburgh. She plans to move to Los Angeles this spring prior to relocating in Spain in fall 2013.

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About the University of La Verne College of Law

Established in 1970, the University of La Verne College of Law has been provisionally approved by the Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar of the American Bar Association effective March 16, 2012. Located in the heart of the city of Ontario, it is the only ABA approved law school in Inland Southern California, which includes eastern Los Angeles County as well as San Bernardino and Riverside counties.

La Verne Law is one of four colleges that make up the University of La Verne, an independent private university founded in 1891. The law school offers full-time and part-time programs leading to the juris doctor degree, and has produced generations of law professionals educated on standards of ethics and service to the community. The rigorous academic program is designed to provide grounding in legal theory, lawyering skills, and ethics, areas crucial to the modern practice of law.


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