Monday, June 9, 1997

WRITER: Kathy R. Pharr, 706/542-5172

CONTACT: Edward D. Spurgeon, 706/542-7140


ATHENS, Ga. -- Edward D. Spurgeon, dean of the University of Georgia School of Law, today announced his intention to resign as dean effective June 30, 1998, upon the completion of his fifth year as dean.

"Announcing my plans at this time will provide ample time to conduct a thorough dean's search and bring ongoing projects to successful fruition," said Spurgeon. In a letter distributed to university administrators, law school faculty and staff, and alumni leaders, he added, "I believe the law school is well positioned to attract an outstanding new dean from within or outside the faculty and to set further ambitious goals."

Spurgeon cited three reasons for his decision: 1) the major goals identified at the beginning of his deanship in 1993 will have been met or surpassed; 2) the new university president will have a transition year to become familiar with the law school before exercising a voice in the selection of a new dean; and 3) leaving the deanship will free him to pursue other professional and personal interests.

"Ned Spurgeon has provided excellent leadership for the law school," said President Charles B. Knapp. "We share the law school's pride in the accomplishments of his term in office. It has, indeed, been a pleasure to work with Dean Spurgeon, and we wish him all success in his future endeavors."

During Spurgeon's tenure as dean, the national reputation of the law school has grown as the school has strengthened its faculty, educational program, facilities and base of support. To date, eight new faculty members have been hired, six faculty have been named to chaired positions, and the legal research and writing staff has also expanded. These additions have resulted in the creation of a civil clinic, a more diversified curriculum, lower faculty/student ratio, and have provided professors with more time for scholarship and research. Faculty and staff salaries have also been raised to a level on par with peer institutions.

Construction of Dean Rusk Hall, the law school's $6 million addition, has been completed under Spurgeon's leadership. The law library has improved its automation through the creation of an on-line card catalog and enhanced technology in student computer labs. The new civil clinic provides students with more hands-on opportunities to develop lawyering skills and to address legal concerns of the needy in the local community. The law school also joined the London Law Consortium, an ABA-approved foreign study program, and has added a moot court exchange program with King's Inns of Ireland.

Spurgeon has been a staunch supporter of the law school's respected student journals and extracurricular programs, and this year, the University of Georgia brought home national championships in both its moot court and mock trial programs.

Under Spurgeon's leadership, the law school has continued to attract students with excellent credentials, while maintaining the school's historic commitment to serve Georgians; an average of three-quarters of the entering class are Georgia residents.

Spurgeon has aggressively sought to strengthen the law school's base of private and public support, creating a major gifts program to improve fund raising. As a result, unrestricted gifts to the Law School Annual Fund have grown by nearly 75 percent and the law school has received several significant major gifts. Alumni support, evidenced both in fund raising and attendance at special events, is at an all-time high.

"The University of Georgia School of Law was a fine law school when I arrived in 1993 and it is a fine law school today," said Spurgeon. "We have strengthened the faculty, resources, educational programs, and the reputation of the school. We will continue to work next year and beyond to further this forward momentum."

Spurgeon, who overcame a serious illness a few years ago, said his health is good and was not a factor in his decision to resign. However, "when you survive a life-threatening illness, you do reassess what you want to do with the rest of your life," he said.

Spurgeon said he hopes to return to the classroom after he steps down from the deanship, and pursue scholarship in his specialty areas of business law, tax and elder law. He also has a strong commitment to public service, and plans to pursue those interests.

Spurgeon, a native of Newton, N.J., received his bachelor's degree in English from Princeton University and his law degree from Stanford University. He later earned a Master of Laws degree from New York University.

He practiced law for 12 years with the Los Angeles law firm of Paul, Hastings, Janofsky and Walker, much of that time as a partner, before joining the faculty at the University of Utah in 1980. He was named dean of the Utah College of Law in 1983 and served for seven years. In 1990, he was named the William H. Leary Professor of Law and Policy.

Spurgeon serves as special advisor to the American Bar Association Commission on Legal Problems of the Elderly in Washington, D.C., and is a member of the nominating committee of the American Association of Law Schools. He and co-author John Peschel will publish the third edition of their casebook, Federal Taxation of Trusts, Grantors and Beneficiaries in the fall.