Wilcox moves from associate dean to dean of the Law School
USC announced the hiring of Robert Wilcox, currently the associate dean of the school, as its new dean Thursday afternoon. Wilcox was selected over Susan Richey, associate dean of the University of New Hampshire School of Law. Richey couldn't be reached for comment late Thursday.
Wilcox declined a raise offered by the university, choosing to keep his $207,000 annual salary as associate dean in hopes of finding more funds for the school's mission. Outgoing dean Walter "Jack" Pratt made about $260,000 last year.
"He has a very good understanding of the law school and South Carolina," Provost Michael Amiridis said. "We think it is very important for the future of the law school to hit the ground running immediately. He won't have to spend time to develop relationships around the state because he has these relationships already."
With the hire came the announcement of millions of extra dollars for the law school. Amiridis said the university was prepared to commit an extra $1.5 million per year to the school for the hiring and retention of 10 more faculty members, staff support and student services. Those funds will mainly come from general institutional funds, which were boosted significantly by a record freshman undergraduate class, Amiridis said.
USC also announced it will reduce the size of its law school class to 220 for the next five years and will slightly raise tuition in the future. The move to limit the freshman class was applauded by faculty in the room, as current classes brought in about 240 students and created concerns from a national Blue Ribbon Panel that there were too many students and not enough professors. Amiridis promised the tuition hikes wouldn't be as significant as in years past.
USC's current in-state law school tuition of $20,236 per year is the second highest in the Southeastern Conference below Vanderbilt University.
Lingering facilities questions plague the law school, but USC officials say solutions are coming soon.
Amiridis said a decision either to renovate the existing facility or build a new one will be made within 30 to 60 days. Amiridis said Thursday that a minimum price tag for the renovation would be $50 million, while a new building could cost $89 million. USC currently has $14 million raised for the plan and has hired former state Attorney General Henry McMaster to raise additional funds.
Wilcox said he'd ensure the building project went through to completion.
Philip Land, outgoing president of the Student Bar Association, praised the hire. Land also served on the dean search committee.
"He is nationally recognized in legal education, well-connected in South Carolina and competent to address the needs of this law school," Land said. "I look forward to watching the stature of our law school grow under his leadership."
Those comments were echoed by Amiridis and Sen. Lindsey Graham.
"I was a classmate of Rob's and have seen him develop into one of the most outstanding law professors in the country," Graham said in a release. "His selection as the new dean of the University of South Carolina School of Law is a very wise choice."
Wilcox is from Charleston and joined USC 25 years ago as an assistant professor of law. He resides with his wife Lisa in Columbia. They have three children.