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University of Wisconsin Law School dean named

June 2, 2020 By Käri Knutson

Daniel P. Tokaji has been named dean of the University of Wisconsin Law School.

He has been a professor at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law since 2003, serving as associate dean for faculty since 2018.

Portrait of Daniel Tokaji in front of a shelf full of law books

Daniel Tokaji

A graduate of Harvard College and the Yale Law School, Tokaji clerked for the Honorable Stephen Reinhardt of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Before arriving at Ohio State, he was a civil rights lawyer in California for eight years.

Tokaji is currently the Charles W. Ebersold and Florence Williams Ebersold Professor of Constitutional Law at Ohio State.  His scholarship focuses primarily on the field of election law, addressing questions of voting rights, civil rights, free speech and democratic inclusion.

“I am thrilled to have Dan assume the deanship of the Law School,” says Provost Karl Scholz. “He brings a wealth of experience and knowledge, and his impactful teaching, outstanding scholarship and commitment to public service match the qualities that make UW–Madison such a special place.

“Chancellor Blank and I are confident that he will provide terrific leadership, and we are very pleased to welcome Dan and his family to Wisconsin,” Scholz adds.

“Serving as dean of the University of Wisconsin Law School is my dream job,” says Tokaji. “For many years, I have admired the law school for its tradition of scholarly excellence, law-in-action approach to legal education, and devotion to public service, including communities in Wisconsin, the nation and around the globe. It will be an honor to serve and lead a law school that so ably embodies the Wisconsin Idea of advancing knowledge to make life better for everyone.”

As dean, Tokaji hopes to capitalize on the law school’s excellence in multidisciplinary scholarship and experiential education, while furthering the university’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.

Tokaji’s scholarship focuses primarily on the field of election law, addressing questions of voting rights, civil rights, free speech and democratic inclusion.

“In challenging times like the ones we now face, it can sometimes be difficult to see opportunities,” says Tokaji. “But every challenge presents opportunities. While we must confront the effects of the pandemic, we must also think beyond it, guided by our mission and values — especially our commitment to our students, our graduates, and the communities they serve as lawyers and leaders.”

Tokaji traces his interest in the University of Wisconsin Law School back to a visit 18 years ago. A practicing lawyer at the time, he was invited to present a draft paper at a law school faculty workshop. He remembers visiting the campus and how warmly he was received by the faculty, staff and students at the time.

He will be joining the University of Wisconsin–Madison community with his wife, Renuka Mayadev. A graduate of Georgetown Law School and Northwestern University, she is currently an executive at the United Way of Central Ohio and formerly served as executive director of the Children’s Defense Fund-Ohio. Tokaji and Mayadev have two school-aged children.

Faculty, academic staff, students and members of the Wisconsin legal community made up a 15-member search-and-screen committee chaired by Heinz Klug, Evjue-Bascom Professor of Law.

“We had a remarkably strong pool of candidates and I am confident that Dan will build on the law school’s strengths and take us forward,” says Klug.

The University of Wisconsin Law School boasts a renowned faculty, an extensive curriculum and a dynamic student body. Its curriculum places emphasis on “law in action” — how the law relates to social change and to society as a whole — while at the same time stressing experiential learning. In addition to its nationally recognized programs of legal education, it has one of the largest, most diverse and most expansive clinical programs in the country.

The school, with a budget of $30 million, comprises approximately 30 tenured and tenure-track faculty, 30 clinical professors, 70 instructional, professional and support staff, and 650 Juris Doctor, 54 master’s and seven Doctor of Juridical Science students.

Margaret Raymond, who has led the school since 2011, announced in October that she will step down as dean and return to the faculty in August.