A University of Mississippi law professor will lead an organization representing more than 100 institutions as head of the Southeastern Association of Law Schools for the coming academic year.
Ron Rychlak, professor of law and Jamie L. Whitten Chair of Law and Government, will serve as president of SEALS for 2018-19.
“It’s both an honor and a challenge,” Rychlak said. “I believe this type of professional development is important, and it reflects well on the university to have so many of our faculty involved in organizations like this.”
SEALS began in 1947 as a regional association of law schools that came together to host an annual meeting each summer. The meeting features panel discussions, debates and lectures from members of the legal community around the world, giving law faculty an opportunity to present their research, attend workshops and receive feedback from peers and mentors.
The organization has grown beyond the Southeast and includes more than 100 member schools.
Rychlak has been active in the organization for the last 20 years, serving on multiple committees. In 2012, the association honored him with its Distinguished Service Award. He will be installed as president Aug. 11 at the conclusion of this year’s annual conference in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Also UM’s faculty athletics representative, Rychlak will give presentations at the conference about NCAA legislation, as well as bar exam performance and what can be done to better prepare students.
“I’d like to have a successful academic conference where people feel they have been nourished intellectually, but also maintain the family-oriented feeling that SEALS is known for,” Rychlak said.
His goal as president is to continue to develop the organization, specifically helping young faculty members who just beginning their careers.
“It’s a great chance for young people to develop their presentation and writing skills while getting feedback from those in legal academia,” Rychlak said. “That’s what really separates us from other groups.”
Ben Cooper, a professor and senior associate dean for academic affairs at the School of Law, also has been actively involved in SEALS, serving as chair of the program formatting committee, where he edits the full conference program and daily schedule. Cooper said he is proud that his colleague will lead the organization for the coming year.
“I think it’s a great honor for him and it’s an appropriate recognition of his contributions to the success of SEALS over the years,” Cooper said.
Throughout the history of SEALS, four other Ole Miss faculty members have served a term as president.