Law School Dean Brings Renewed Values Focus to Legal Curriculum

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News Article

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University of North Dakota


Kathryn R. L. Rand—dean, Floyd B. Sperry Professor of Law, and co-director of the Institute for the Study of Tribal Gaming Law and Policy at the University of North Dakota School of Law—has an overflowing plate. But the newly appointed leader of North Dakota’s only law school says “bring it on!”

“My vision for the law school centers on values: the values of our legal profession, the values of higher education, and, perhaps most importantly, the values of our state,” said Rand. “That vision draws on our distinctive core values and strengths to broaden and deepen the definition of excellence in public legal education. I see the School of Law emerging as a leader in realigning legal education with the values and ideals of the legal profession.”

After several years as acting and then interim dean--she took the helm when former law school dean Paul LeBel became UND provost and vice president for academic affairs--Rand beat out a national field of competitors for the permanent position as dean. The dean is the chief academic, fiscal, and administrative officer for the law school and reports to the provost.

Rand is 16th dean to serve in the school's 112-year history and is the first woman to hold the job permanently.

“Her vision of a constantly improving law school is compelling, ambitious, and realistic,” said LeBel. “She has played a key role in the recruitment of outstanding faculty to the law school, and has made helpful organizational changes within the administration. She consistently demonstrates the highest level of integrity and a commitment to working effectively and inclusively with all constituencies to advance the law school. The law school is in very capable hands, and its future could not be brighter.”

Rand brings heavy-duty credentials to her job and a stellar academic track record to her position.

A former federal prosecutor who tackled violent criminals and drug offenders, Rand also is a nationally known and highly respected expert on Indian gaming law and policy. With longtime collaborator Dr. Steven Light, professor of political science and associate provost for undergraduate education, she has authored several books on the subject, all of which are now standard texts in courses on Indian gaming around the country.

Along with Light, Rand is co-director of the Institute for the Study of Tribal Gaming Law and Policy, a component of the Northern Plains Indian Law Center at the UND School of Law. The Institute is the first university-affiliated research institute dedicated to the study of Indian gaming. She also teaches in the areas of constitutional law, civil rights, tribal gaming, and race, gender, and the law.

Rand ’s most recent scholarship is a chapter titled, “Why State Law Matters: Indian Gaming and Intergovernmental Relations in Wisconsin,” in a recent book, The New Politics of Indian Gaming, edited by Ken Hansen and Tracy Skopek and published by the University of Nevada Press. The book received a “highly recommended” rating from the Midwest Book Review.

Rand has a strong reputation as a legal academic and an up-and-coming dean. She is an elected member of the American Law Institute, and serves on multiple editorial boards, including those for the Gaming Law Review and the American Indian Law Review.

She was elected as a faculty member to the Order of the Coif, in recognition of her scholarship, and in 2007 she was awarded the UND Foundation/McDermott Award for Excellence in Teaching, Research or Creative Activity, and Service. She also serves on the State Bar Association of the North Dakota Board of Governors, the North Dakota Bar Foundation Board of Directors, and the North Dakota Judicial Branch Education Commission, and as a Master in the Randy H. Lee Chapter of the American Inns of Court.

Rand received her J.D. (cum laude) from the University of Michigan Law School in 1993 and her B.A. in anthropology (summa cum laude) from the University of North Dakota in 1990.

Following law school, Rand clerked for Justice Beryl Levine of the North Dakota Supreme Court and Chief Judge J.P. Stadtmueller of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin. She then served as Assistant United States Attorney in the Eastern District of Wisconsin for two years.

Her many connections to North Dakota and UND brought her back to Grand Forks 11 years ago. Rand is a native of East Grand Forks, Minn. Her grandfather, Al Rand, is a 1921 UND Law School graduate, and her father, Tom Rand, is a longtime associate dean in UND’s College of Arts and Sciences. She returned to UND in 2000 to join the law school faculty, and in 2004 was named Associate Dean for Academic Affairs before assuming the interim dean position in 2009.

“As the product of two state universities and having built my professional career at a small public law school, I am dedicated to excellent and accessible public legal education as well as to the special role of a public law school in serving our profession and our society,” Rand said. “Nowhere is my professional commitment stronger than here at UND.”

The multiple tracks in her professional life are all about serving UND law students.

“When students come to the UND School of Law, they can expect a high-quality legal education that will put them in good stead for a whole host of career paths,” Rand said. “They can expect individualized attention in a personalized educational environment where every member of our faculty and staff is invested in their (the students’) personal and professional success.”

For Rand, a top-notch legal education boils down to values.

“UND law students can also expect that their education here will instill in them the the values we think are important in the legal profession, in higher education, and in North Dakota,” Rand said. “Those values will serve them well no matter where they end up after law school.”

It all adds up to an impressive record of performance for Rand—a record that definitely enhances the reputation of the UND School of Law.

“We’re shaping the legal profession one UND-educated attorney at a time,” Rand said.