Dean Tom Gerety

Tom Gerety, who, according to Wikipedia, is “a lawyer, philosopher, and self-proclaimed ’60s radical'”, came in to the College of Law as the new dean in the fall of ’86, when we were arriving 1Ls, and left UC not long after our graduation ceremony.  That makes him one of us … you could say … in a sense … sort of …. maybe …. if you really, really want to.

Did you ever wonder whatever became of our lovable old “Surf Dean?”

After what could accurately be described as three very interesting years …

… as a stranger in a strange land, Dean Gerety returned to his home territory, the Northeast, to become President Gerety of Connecticut’s Trinity College.

On his selection as Trinity’s new president, Dean Gerety promised to serve a ten year term.  Five years later, in 1994, he suddenly rediscovered the virtues of free agency and left Trinity to become president of a rival institution, Amherst College.  This upset a few people ….

The week after President Tom Gerety announced he was leaving Trinity College …, vandals smashed his office windows three nights in a row. The chairman of Trinity’s board of trustees told a crowded faculty meeting that Gerety would not preside at graduation May 22. The student newspaper labeled his abrupt departure a “betrayal.” And an ethics class debated the morality of his choice. …

While some faculty are happy to see him go, others resent the timing – halfway through a public pledge to remain 10 years. He leaves unfinished a search for a new dean of the faculty, implementation of a strategic plan, a major capital campaign and construction of a magnet school near campus. “In a sense, he’s walking out on his own agenda,” said Andrea Bianchini, associate professor of modern languages. “It was a move that seems to contradict all the things Gerety has been saying, that these projects matter. Obviously they don’t matter if he’s turning his back on them.”

— Katherine Farrish & Robert A. Frahm, “Gerety’s Move Stings Trinity,” Hartford Courant (March 6, 1994).

… and the whole affair became the subject of a highly critical Harvard Business School case study.

President Gerety, version 2.0, served at Amherst through 2003, …

… after which he became Professor Gerety at the NYU School of Law, a post he holds to this day.  He teaches upper-class electives such as “Constitutional Law and Civil Rights”  and various seminar courses including a poetry seminar.  He’s also done some op ed blogging for the Huffington Post.

Our old dean gets generally positive reviews from NYU students at–just as he did for the classes he taught at UC.  Based on some of the comments, it seems he hasn’t changed a bit.

… Constantly brags about his pedigree (Yale, Amherst, prep school) and never lets you forget he’s had a nice bourgeois lifestyle. Loves hearing himself talk. …

… Loves to talk about “when I was president of Amherst” or “when I met this famous politician” but it’s just funny because he gets so excited. …



3 thoughts on “Dean Tom Gerety

  1. Doug May

    Certainly reaching out to Dean Gerety in 1986 was a controversial move for our otherwise provincial law school. Certainly his east coast manners did little to allay skepticism among those who preferred a more insular tract in selecting a dean. We can dismiss him as a “carpet bagger” which seems to have been the verdict that inflamed Trinity but Amherst is an amazing college and his ability to remain there for roughly a decade speaks to his high degree of competency. Interesting that the knock appears to be that he leaves too soon but he does not get chased out of anywhere including Cincinnnati. NYU is not a bad place to land either so as far as I am concerned, I say congratulations Dean Gerety.

  2. Pingback: Memories From Law School | UC Law '89 @ 25

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