UW Today

This is an archived article.

March 1, 2001

W.H. ‘Joe’ Knight Jr. selected as dean of School of Law

W.H. “Joe” Knight Jr., a professor at the University of Iowa, has been selected to be dean of the University of Washington School of Law, subject to approval by the Board of Regents.

“I am very excited about the selection of Joe Knight to be our new law school dean,” said UW President Richard L. McCormick. “His passion for the law is infectious, and he brings an educator’s enthusiasm and belief in limitless possibilities to the job of leadership. He will make a difference at this university and in the broader community.”

Knight, who earned his law degree from Columbia University, has been a professor at Iowa’s College of Law since 1988, where he specializes in commercial law. He served as the university’s vice provost from 1997 through 2000. He also has served as a visiting professor at Washington University in St. Louis and at Duke University’s School of Law, where he earned the outstanding teacher award in 1991.

Knight said he was lured to the Northwest by the UW’s strong reputation.

“It’s just an excellent university — a university that people talk about when people talk about the leaders in higher education,” Knight said. “The Law School is part of that.”

Knight said he hopes to increase the Law School’s national visibility, while encouraging more interdisciplinary collaboration with other campus departments. Officials at the 101-year-old Law School will break ground in May for a new building on the main UW campus that is intended to foster such cooperation.

Knight said that legal education should emphasize the importance of the attorney’s role as counselor and confidant to individuals.

“Attorneys should be seen as a vibrant force for civic improvement in the community,” he said. “I’m a very big believer in the 19th century ideal of lawyering, like Oliver Wendell Holmes. It is the tradition of a great civic citizen, willing to do what’s necessary to build his or her community. With all the focus today on the adversarial system, sometimes the public doesn’t see us as community builders.”

Before entering academia, Knight was associate counsel and assistant secretary for four years with Colonial Bancorp in New Haven and Waterbury, Conn. He is a member of the board of directors of State Farm Mutual Auto Insurance Co.

His bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is in economics and political science.

Pending Board of Regents approval on March 16, Knight will take the helm of a Law School that is ranked in the top 25 nationally and has produced 28 Washington State Supreme Court justices, 23 federal judges and 131 state legislators.

The state’s only public law school, it now enrolls nearly 600 students and has a library of 514,522 volumes. The school is particularly strong in such fields as Asian law, Native American law, intellectual property and technology law, and runs a dynamic “clinical law” program that enables students to perform legal service for the public.

Knight’s salary will be $220,000.

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Knight can be reached at (319) 335-9057, or w-knight@uiowa.edu.