Houck named interim dean of Penn State Law and School of International Affairs

July 13, 2021

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Retired Vice Adm. James Houck, a faculty member in Penn State Law and the School of International Affairs, as well as inaugural director of Penn State’s Center for Security Research and Education, has been named interim dean of Penn State Law in University Park and the School of International Affairs, effective Aug. 1. Houck will provide interim leadership following the departure of current dean Hari M. Osofsky, who will begin as dean of Northwestern Pritzker School of Law also on Aug. 1. 

“Jim Houck is a proven leader at Penn State, as well as throughout his entire career,” said Penn State’s Executive Vice President and Provost Nick Jones. “We are most fortunate to have him be willing to serve in this capacity again and I look forward to working with him through the transition.”

Houck, whose academic work focuses on national security law and international law, previously stepped in to serve from 2013-2017 as interim dean of the unified Dickinson School of Law and the School of International Affairs, as well as interim dean of Penn State Law at University Park for the school’s first two years. In this role, he oversaw the separation of the unified Dickinson School of Law into two separate law schools -- Penn State Law in University Park, and Dickinson Law in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.  As the first interim dean of Penn State Law and the School of International Affairs, Houck led efforts to integrate both schools with a variety of disciplines across the University Park campus and beyond.

Houck, who joined Penn State in 2012 after a 32-year career in the United States Navy, teaches the groundbreaking national security law course ‘Leadership in Crisis Simulation.’ He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and has previously served as a member of the Secretary of Defense's Independent Review Panel on Sexual Assault in the Military; the Hoover Institute's Arctic Security Initiative; and the Easter Seals Command Council, which supports military service members, veterans, their families, and families of the fallen.

Houck began his naval career by qualifying as a surface warfare officer aboard a destroyer. His longstanding Naval career culminated in his appointment as the 41st Judge Advocate General of the U.S. Navy. As the Judge Advocate General of the Navy, Houck was 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. Among his assignments as a Navy lawyer, Houck served as deputy legal counsel to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; 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. He served as the Department of Defense Representative for Ocean Policy Affairs and oversaw the Department of the Navy's military justice system. 

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.

Last Updated July 13, 2021