Widener Delaware Law School names new dean
WILMINGTON – Widener University has named Todd J. Clark, an associate dean in Florida, to take over the Delaware Law School at a historic time of change in the state’s legal landscape.
Clark will succeed Rodney Smolla, who served as dean of Delaware’s only law school for seven years before departing last year to take over the Vermont School of Law.
The arrival of the new leadership comes amid an unprecedented time of competition, as Wilmington University prepares to launch its own School of Law next fall.
Clark, who will take over the 40-acre Delaware Law School off U.S. Route 202 near the Pennsylvania border on July 1, has served most recently as senior associate dean of academic affairs and professor of law at St. Thomas University College of Law in Florida. An announcement of the selection by Widener called Clark “an inclusive and visionary leader who, as dean, will build on the law school’s more than 50 years of accomplishments in a state renowned for its courts and distinguished bar.”
“We are excited to welcome Todd Clark to Delaware Law School,” Widener President Stacey Robertson said in a statement. “His oversight of STU’s academic success, bar preparation, and student health and wellness programs have uniquely prepared him to be dean of Delaware Law. His energetic leadership and vision for legal education aligns with Widener’s relentless commitment to student success. I am confident he is a bold, collaborative leader who will not only engage with students and faculty, but also the Delaware legal community – which is highly populated with our alumni.”
Since its first graduating class in 1975, the Widener University school has been a gateway to Delaware’s prestigious legal community that handles high-profile corporate, IP and bankruptcy cases. Nearly 225 alumni have gone on to earn judgeships around the country, including Delaware Supreme Court Justice Gary Traynor.
Despite that historic reputation, the new WilmU law school aims to be competitive in the local landscape by offering an innovative curriculum and a lower credit cost – about half of Widener’s $55,000 annual cost.
That will put some pressure to attract local applicants to Widener, which had 659 law students at the start of the 2022-23 school year, according to the Law School Admission Council. That is down slightly from what the school had at the start of Smolla’s tenure.
A tenured professor who specializes in corporate governance, contracts, employment discrimination, hip hop law, and sports law, Clark will bring a fresh vision to Delaware Law School. At STU, he co-chaired the Center for Pandemic, Disaster and Quarantine Research and was recognized last year as its Professor of the Year for both first-year students and the school’s upper-level division.
“I am honored and humbled to be selected as the next dean of Delaware Law School,” Clark said in a statement. “This is a school that has launched the careers of thousands of distinguished legal professionals, particularly in Delaware and the surrounding region. I am excited to be joining the First State and look forward to meeting the students, faculty, staff, alumni, donors, and friends who make up the proud Delaware Law community. I am confident we will accomplish great things together.”
The incoming dean expects to leverage “the law school’s expertise in corporate law and its focus on diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging, to further expand the scope of the school’s influence,” the university said.
“Through this synergy, my hope is to empower our students to see themselves as agents of change for serving underserved populations and those persons who typically have no voice,” he added.
Clark holds an undergraduate degree in political science from Wittenberg University and an M.B.A from West Virginia University College of Business and Economics. He received his J.D. from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, where he was president of the Black Law Students Association.
Before his time at STU, Clark taught at North Carolina Central University School of Law, where he was a tenured professor and taught business associations, contracts, corporate justice, employment discrimination, and hip hop, law and justice.