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Interim dean Houck takes over leadership of Law School


Retired Vice Adm. James Houck begins his official duties today as interim dean of the Law School and School of International Affairs (SIA). Houck joined the Law and SIA faculty in 2012 as a distinguished scholar in residence. Houck will act as interim dean until the University conducts a search to replace former dean Philip McConnaughay, now dean of Peking University’s School of Transnational Law in Shenzhen, China.

“I’m excited about the opportunity and challenges ahead. We have a vibrant legal community and world-class facilities; likewise, we face a rigorous, rapidly-evolving market for delivering legal education. I am committed to working with our faculty and staff to give our students the very best educational and pre-professional experience,” Houck said.

The immediate past Judge Advocate General of the United States, 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.

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.

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