Willamette University, Students at the Mill Stream

Symeon C. Symeonides steps down as Willamette law dean

Dean Symeon C. Symeonides Symeon C. Symeonides has announced he is stepping down from his position as dean of the College of Law, a job he has held for 12 years, to focus on teaching and writing full-time. Associate Dean Peter Letsou will be dean for a two-year interim period. 

“Symeon's tenure has been marked by outstanding achievements too numerous to recount fully and, as with all great deans, he leaves the institution far stronger than he found it,” President M. Lee Pelton said. “Symeon will be greatly missed as dean. However, I am confident that Peter's considerable experience as associate dean and professor will ensure that he will sustain and strengthen Symeon's enviable legacy.”

Pelton noted that Symeonides raised more than $19 million during his tenure. He oversaw a dramatic increase of bar passage rates and faculty productivity and a significant improvement of the student-faculty ratio. Other highlights include a renovation of the law school building, the acquisition and renovation of the Carnegie Building, now known as the Oregon Civic Justice Center, and the expansion and endowment of the Clinical Law Program.

Since coming to Willamette in 1999, Symeonides has published 10 books and more than 50 law-review articles. He has been characterized as a "giant" in his field and his publications have been cited by the supreme courts of the United States and the United Kingdom. He currently serves as vice president of the International Association of Legal Science and as honorary president of the American Society of Comparative Law. He is just beginning his chairmanship of a major law reform project for the European Union. 

Peter Letsou joined the faculty of Willamette University College of Law in 2002 as the Isaac Van Winkle Melton Endowed Professor and Director of the College's Program in Law and Business. In 2003, he became the initial holder of the Roderick and Carol Wendt Chair in Business Law. In 2006, he was named associate dean.

Letsou graduated from the University of Chicago Law School with highest honors and was elected to the Order of the Coif. He also was comment editor of the University of Chicago Law Review and was twice selected as an Olin Foundation Fellow in Law and Economics. Prior to coming to Willamette, Letsou was Professor of Law and Director of the Center for Corporate Law at the University of Cincinnati, a professor at the George Mason University Law School, and a lawyer in New York City. He is an active scholar and lecturer.