Interim dean named for Dickinson School of Law, School of International Affairs

June 05, 2013

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Retired Vice Adm. James Houck, the immediate past Judge Advocate General of the United States Navy and a Distinguished Scholar in Residence at Penn State’s Dickinson School of Law and School of International Affairs, has been named interim dean of both schools effective Aug. 1. Houck will provide interim leadership following the departure of current dean Philip McConnaughay, who will begin as dean of Peking University’s School of Transnational Law in Shenzhen, China, on the same date.

On May 3, Penn State’s Board of Trustees approved a plan to change the operation of the currently unified two-campus law school into two separately accredited, but collaborative, law campuses of the Dickinson School of Law. Under the plan, which currently is under review by the American Bar Association (ABA), the campuses will offer curricula and opportunities that better reflect the respective strengths of each faculty and location, creating a clearer choice for students considering Penn State for law school. An interim dean will be appointed for the Carlisle campus following consultation with the ABA, and national searches for a permanent dean for each campus will follow ABA approval of the new separate accreditation structure. Houck will serve as interim dean of both campuses until an interim dean is appointed for the Carlisle campus.

As the Judge Advocate General, Houck served as the principal military legal counsel to the secretary of the Navy and chief of naval operations and led the 2,300 attorneys, enlisted legal staff and civilian employees of the worldwide Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corps. He also served as the Department of Defense representative for ocean policy affairs and oversaw the Department of the Navy's military justice system. His teaching and research focus on international law and national security law, with a particular emphasis on the law of the sea and use of force.

Houck began his naval career by qualifying as a surface warfare officer aboard a destroyer. Among his assignments as a Navy lawyer, Houck served as deputy legal counsel to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and as principal legal counsel to the commander of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet, and the commander of the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command in Bahrain. Houck served in the Navy’s Office of Legislative Affairs and also has been a Navy prosecutor and defense attorney.

Houck holds a bachelor’s degree from the U.S. Naval Academy, a juris doctorate from the University of Michigan, and a master of laws degree from Georgetown University. Houck currently is a member of the secretary of defense’s Independent Review Panel on Sexual Assault in the Military; the Hoover Institute’s Arctic Security Initiative; the Council on Foreign Relations; and the Easter Seals Command Council, which supports military service members, veterans, their families and families of the fallen.

  • Retired Vice Adm. James Houck

    James Houck, interim dean for Dickinson School of Law at University Park.

    IMAGE: Penn State

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated July 22, 2015