UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A leading scholar of and contributor to public policy work on energy transition and climate change has been named the new dean of Penn State Law and the School of International Affairs (SIA) at University Park beginning July 1, pending approval of the Board of Trustees.
Hari M. Osofsky, the Robins Kaplan Professor of Law, faculty director of the Energy Transition Lab and director of the Joint Degree Program in Law, Science and Technology, all at the University of Minnesota Law School, was the successful candidate following a national search.
"Hari Osofsky is an excellent choice to lead Penn State Law and the SIA. She brings with her an impressive list of accomplishments and quality scholarship, along with an enthusiasm and vision that will allow her to build upon the exceptional work of our faculty and staff," said Provost Nick Jones. "I am delighted to appoint someone of this caliber to lead and engage with our law students and the entire University community."
Penn State Law is Penn State’s law school on the University Park campus. Since August 2013, both Penn State Law and the School of International Affairs have been under the leadership of James Houck, retired vice admiral of the U.S. Navy and a Distinguished Scholar in Residence, who has been serving in an interim capacity. During that time, Penn State implemented a change, shifting its unified two-campus law school into two separately accredited schools. Houck initially served as interim dean over the single law school. Jones thanked Houck for his "extraordinary leadership."
"Jim has been a strong but steady hand and guiding force during the transition of the law school into two separate entities," said Jones. "His leadership has brought us to this exciting point in time where a new dean can build on his accomplishments and continue to meet the major challenges, changes and opportunities in legal education in the years ahead."
The newly appointed Osofsky, who also is on the faculty of the Conservation Biology Graduate Program, an adjunct professor in the Department of Geography, Environment and Society, and a Fellow with the Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota, has written more than 50 publications focused on improving governance and addressing injustice in energy and climate change regulation. Her scholarship includes books with Cambridge University Press on climate change litigation, textbooks on both energy and climate change law, and articles in leading law and geography journals. Osofsky’s article on governance and the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill was selected for inclusion in Land Use and Environment Law Review’s annual compilation of the top land use and environmental law articles. In addition, she has been awarded the Daniel B. Luten Award for the best paper by a professional geographer by the Energy and Environment Specialty Group of the Association of American Geographers.
“I am honored and excited to have the opportunity to serve as the dean of Penn State Law and the School of International Affairs at this leading public research university,” Osofsky said. “Technology, globalization, and the need for cross-cutting knowledge are fundamentally changing our society, and the legal and international affairs professions. I look forward to collaborating with my new colleagues at these schools and across campus to develop innovative interdisciplinary research and educational programs that will benefit society.”
Osofsky’s professional leadership roles have included, among others, serving as president of the Association for Law, Property, and Society; chair of the American Association of Law School’s Section on Property; and a member of the executive council of the American Society of International Law and the International Law Association’s Committee on the Legal Principles of Climate Change. She also is a member of the Board of Governors of the Society of American Law Teachers, the International Bar Association’s Model Statute on Climate Change Remedies Working Group, and the editorial board of Climate Law. She has been awarded the Association for Law, Property and Society’s 2016 Distinguished Service Award.
She received a Ph.D. in geography from the University of Oregon and a juris doctor from Yale Law School, where she was honored with the Felix S. Cohen Prize and Khosla Memorial Fund Prize, and also served as book reviews editor for the Yale Law Journal, co-founder and co-editor-in-chief of the Yale Human Rights and Development Law Journal, and director of the Lowenstein International Human Rights Project.
After clerking for Judge Dorothy Nelson of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, she worked as a Fellow at the Center for the Law in the Public Interest in Los Angeles, pursuing public interest impact litigation with a focus on environmental justice.
During the 2001-02 academic year, she served as a Yale-China Legal Education Fellow and Visiting Scholar at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, China, teaching U.S. civil rights law and working collaboratively with her Chinese colleagues to launch the school’s first legal clinic.
Before coming to the University of Minnesota Law School, Osofsky taught at Washington and Lee University School of Law, University of Oregon School of Law, and Whittier Law School.
With an estimated budget of $24.5 million, Penn State Law offers a juris doctor degree, a number of joint degrees, and for foreign-trained attorneys, both master of laws and doctor of juridical science degree programs. Founded in 2007, the School of International Affairs includes 100 students from 14 countries and offers a two-year master of international affairs degree, and certificates in International Affairs, International Economic Development, and International Security.