Q&A with Dean Alexander on his New Role as AALS President
Over the weekend, Mark C. Alexander, The Arthur J. Kania Dean of the Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law, began his tenure as President of the Association of American Law Schools (AALS). Founded in 1900, the AALS is a non-profit organization of 176 law schools in the United States and 19 fee-paid law schools that are not members. Its mission is to uphold and advance excellence in legal education. In 2022, Dean Alexander served as the organization’s President-Elect alongside Erwin Chemerinsky, Dean of the University of California Berkeley School of Law. We spoke with Dean Alexander to learn more about his priorities in the role and his vision for the future of legal education.
Villanova Law: After serving as President-Elect, what does assuming the role of AALS President mean to you?
Mark C. Alexander: First, I am very proud to follow Dean Chemerinsky, and I am grateful for his leadership and the theme he set before the AALS last year to consider how law schools can make a difference. As President, I am looking forward to building on this challenge by asking my colleagues to define our role as the Association of American Law Schools in defending democracy—which is the theme of my presidency.
VL: How did you choose this theme?
MCA: I believe law schools have a critical role to play in the future of our country and our democracy. I cannot remember when the legal profession has had a higher profile and greater exposure or when lawyers were more in the news than over the last few years. Lawyers are elected officials, judges, CEOs and C-suite executives. We are everywhere in places of prominence, power and policy. All of this to say, lawyers have shaped and will continue to shape our democracy. I believe that we, as educators of lawyers, are the shapers of the shapers, and we have a distinct responsibility to this country to ensure that our democracy endures.
VL: How can law schools make the most significant difference within your theme?
MCA: I believe the work of defending democracy is built on three pillars of every law school: curriculum, scholarship and culture. Collectively, we are teaching the courses, writing the scholarship and shaping the cultures that propel legal education. These three tenents are equally important, but I particularly want our students to consider our culture. I’m proud to say that at Villanova Law, we work hard to instill our values of Veritas, Unitas, Caritas (truth, unity, love). They are as much a part of the educational experience as the academic rigor we bring into the classroom every day, and they are the currency of our culture. I hope that these values guide our graduates long after they leave us. Because no matter the type of law you practice or the causes you advocate for, you must do so with care for every person.
VL: What are you most looking forward to throughout your year as President?
MCA: I am grateful to have this time with my AALS colleagues to engage in thoughtful discussions about the importance and relevance of law schools at a time when the strength of our democracy is being tested. I always look forward to the chance to learn from others as well as share the good work that takes place here at Villanova Law every day. We all have a role to play as individual professors, deans and administrators. As an association, AALS offers us a terrific platform to collaborate. As President, I am energized just thinking about the possibilities for how we will work together this year and beyond. In doing so, I believe we will be celebrating the ideas and ideals of democracy together as an ever more perfect Union.
Do you have thoughts or ideas to share with Dean Alexander? Send him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org