Arkansas, Pepperdine appoint women deans, both former judges

Both Arkansas and Pepperdine schools of law are now led by female deans, both of whom have experience in the judiciary.

The University of Arkansas School of Law appointed Stacy L. Leeds as its new dean, making her the first American Indian woman to serve as dean of a law school.  Leeds will assume her duties July 1. She currently serves as a professor at the University of Kansas School of Law, where she is director of the Tribal Law and Government Center. She has also been a professor at North Dakota School of Law and University of Wisconsin School of Law. Leeds served as a judge for many American Indian tribes, including the Cherokee Nation, where she was the only woman and youngest person to ever serve as a Supreme Court Justice. She holds a B.A. from Washington University-St. Louis, M.B.A. from University of Tennessee, J.D. from University of Tulsa and LL.M. from University of Wisconsin. Leeds will take over for the outgoing Cynthia Nance, who will return to teaching after her five years as dean.

Pepperdine University School of Law welcomed former appellate judge Deanell Tacha as its newest dean on June 1. Tacha replaces former dean Kenneth W. Starr, who left to become president of Baylor University in June 2010. Prior to coming on board at Pepperdine, Tacha was a judge on the Tenth Circuit beginning in 1986, and served as Chief Judge from January 2001-2007. Tacha also has experience teaching, as a professor and associate dean at the University of Kansas School of Law. She earned a B.A. from University of Kansas, a J.D. from University of Michigan, and was a White House Fellow. Tacha practiced law in Washington D.C. and Kansas, and was Director of the Douglas County Legal Aid Clinic.