Whittier College Announces Appointment of New Dean for the Law School

Monday, February 9, 2009

Following an extensive, national search, Whittier College President Sharon Herzberger today announced that Penelope Bryan has been appointed Dean of Whittier Law School, effective July 2009. Bryan will succeed the current dean, Neil H. Cogan, who has helmed the law school for the past eight years.

"Penelope Bryan's vision for the advancement of Whittier Law School, her strong work ethic, her experience in both academia and as a practicing attorney, and her 'can do' approach to seizing opportunity made her an outstanding candidate for dean, and the top choice among our search committee," said President Herzberger. "I am confident she will take advantage of the many strengths and resources of both the law school and undergraduate campuses, build programs to provide the best possible educational experiences for our students, and make strong connections with and among our more than 4,000 law school alumni. I look forward to working closely with her as we usher in this new era of leadership and further Whittier Law School along its current, successful trajectory."

An expert in family law, child custody, and dispute resolution, Bryan comes to Whittier from the University of Denver Sturm College of Law, where she serves as professor of law and associate dean for academic affairs. During her two-decade tenure at Sturm, Bryan has expanded and refined the school's well-known Lawyering in Spanish, Environmental and Natural Resources LL.M., and M.S. in Legal Administration programs. She has led outreach initiatives to Latin America and guided the development of international opportunities for law students.In addition, she successfully encouraged Sturm's faculty to integrate experiential educational opportunities into traditional law classes, and led the strategic planning and assessment process.

Prior to her entry into academia, Bryan was a practicing attorney in Florida, and she remains a member of the Florida Bar Association and American Bar Association. For the last seven years, she has served as an expert consultant in numerous complex family law cases. Among her various publications, she authored a book, published in 2006 by the American Psychological Association, which uses sociological research and theory to justify procedural reforms that promise to mitigate the dysfunctional results produced by the current family law system. Bryan holds an undergraduate degree from Rollins College, and a master's degree and J.D. from the University of Florida.

Bryan replaces Dean Neil Cogan, who has served as dean of Whittier Law School since July 2001. Throughout that time, Cogan has attracted outstanding faculty and students to Whittier and worked to establish the nationally renowned Academic Success and Legal Writing Programs, among other curricular reforms.During his tenure, Whittier's graduates have demonstrated increasing success on the California Bar Examination, as well as other state bar examinations. Notably, in the last five years, more than 80% of Whittier graduates have passed the bar exam, including the most recently administered exam, in which first-time Whittier test-takers achieved an 84.3% passage rate—the highest first-time passage rate among all Orange County law schools.

Read more in the Orange County Register