A message from the dean: Announcing a transition

Dear UW Law Community:

As some of you may know, both I and a close family member have experienced recent health challenges. I have made the difficult decision to leave UW Law to return to Southern California to focus on my own well-being and play a larger role in supporting the care for my family member. I will return to UC Irvine School of Law as a faculty member. My last day at UW will be Dec. 31.

I want to express my profound gratitude to the entire UW Law community for your support of me, of our students, of each other and the entire legal community. Together, we have sustained a caring and uplifting community, one that has made a tremendous and lasting impact on legal education and scholarship in Washington and beyond.

To speak of the last three years as remarkable, would be an understatement. We endured numerous unique challenges, any one of which alone would have produced significant stress for the community. I was proud and amazed at the efforts made to transition the school to remote operations in response to the ongoing global pandemic, which has touched the lives of far too many of our families and friends.

You were a source of resilience and strength as we faced our national reckoning over historic and current instances of racialized violence, recent moments of unprecedented political unrest, and the economic and social distress these events have produced. In each of those difficult moments, I was grateful to serve within an institution where our values led us to support each other and communities disproportionately impacted by this period of turmoil.

Within the law school, we admitted the most diverse JD class in recent history this autumn. We renewed our commitment to creating a safe and welcoming learning and work environment through thoughtful work on the Strategic Plan for Diversity, Inclusion, Equity, Multiculturalism and Antiracism. We also standardized and increased our support for students undertaking vital public interest work on behalf of myriad at risk and in need communities. I am especially thankful for the success of actions we took to close UW Law’s structural deficit and restore financial health. This work has ensured that we will continue to provide the highest quality legal education and enjoy financially health well into the future.

Through our new Sustainable Academic Business Plan, we charted how we will continue to educate a diverse student body to serve the legal needs of our community, contribute to a thriving Bench and Bar, and steward a vibrant society locally and globally.

This work has not been easy, but nothing worthwhile ever is.  I am exceedingly grateful for your engagement and passion on these issues, which are near and dear to my heart.

I do believe that every challenge produces an opportunity to meet the moment. And, while I am disappointed that my tenure at UW Law will be shorter than I intended, I could not be prouder of the care, concern and resilience demonstrated by the faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends within our UW Law community.

Despite the challenges, I will look on my time at UW Law with an enduring fondness. I will continue to champion your successes in this next chapter.

With gratitude,

Mario L. Barnes
Toni Rembe Dean and Professor of Law
University of Washington School of Law