Gilbert Holmes, an experienced and award-winning legal educator and administrator, has been selected as the new dean of the University of La Verne College of Law. University President Devorah Lieberman announced the appointment on Monday, Feb. 25, at the La Verne Law campus in Ontario.
Holmes, professor of law and former dean at University of Baltimore School of Law, is scheduled to officially assume his duties on July 1, 2013, or earlier if circumstances permit. His appointment marks the conclusion of an extensive national search.
“It is a pleasure to welcome Gilbert Holmes to the University of La Verne community. The task put before the search committee was to identify the best candidate who could bring vision, energy and commitment to this vital position at the College of Law. They have succeeded in doing just that,” President Lieberman said. “His values mirror those of the university’s mission, and his professional strengths and insights make him the right choice at the right time to lead the College of Law.”
According to University Provost Dr. Gregory Dewey, the appointment of Holmes will have a transformational impact on the law school, its students and the entire region.”
“Gilbert Holmes possesses a deep understanding of legal education and extensive administrative experience that will be a tremendous benefit for our students, our faculty and staff, and the local legal community,” Provost Dewey said. “This is an exciting time for our College of Law and a time of dynamic change for legal education in general. Gil Holmes is uniquely qualified and eminently prepared to develop La Verne Law to be an exemplary, innovative institution.”
During his nearly 23 years in legal education, Holmes has served as a faculty member and administrator at several distinguished law schools. He was dean at the University of Baltimore School of Law from 2001-07, where he remains on faculty as professor of law. In 2010 he founded the Charles Hamilton Houston Scholars program, which prepares under-represented college freshmen and sophomores for admission to and success in law school. Previously he taught and served as an associate dean at Texas Wesleyan University School of Law, and has held teaching positions at the law schools at Florida A&M University, Southern Methodist University and Seton Hall University.
Holmes said he is honored to be selected as dean of La Verne Law and looks forward to helping the law school grow and flourish.
“La Verne Law presents a nearly irresistible opportunity. Its size will allow it to be nimble enough to make innovative changes while strengthening many of the traditional roles law schools have played in training advocates and leaders,” Holmes said. “Because of its location, La Verne Law has been and can continue to be a dynamic force in Inland Southern California as well as a resource for this changing, developing and expanding region. Inland Southern California, the state and the nation present a tremendous market for this institution and its graduates to make a lasting impact. The potential is almost limitless.”
While his years as dean at UB School of Law provide an obvious benefit, Holmes feels all his experiences – especially his work at Texas Wesleyan – have helped prepare him for his new position at La Verne.
“There are a number of parallels between Texas Wesleyan and La Verne. Both share similar views on access and mission. Both are relatively small schools located near large metropolitan centers. And both have law campuses that are separated by about the same distance from their main campuses,” Holmes said. “When I first started at Texas Wesleyan, they were at the same stage of moving from being provisionally approved by the ABA to fully approved. I was there to see how it should be done and will bring that experience to the effort here at La Verne.”
In the coming months, Holmes said he intends to visit both the law school in Ontario and the main campus in La Verne so he can meet with community members and become better acquainted with the university.
Holmes’ professional legal experience includes 16 years as a private practitioner in New York City. He has served as a court-appointed claims administrator for the Baltimore City Circuit Court, a tripartite arbitrator for the New York City Transit Authority, and as director of the New York Civil Liberties Union Suffolk County Police Misconduct Project. He has been part of numerous American Bar Association and Association of American Law Schools committees.
Holmes has been honored many times during his career. In 2007 UB School of Law established the Dean Gilbert A. Holmes Professorship in Clinical Theory & Practice. That same year the NYU Law Alumni Association presented him with its Legal Teaching Award.
A New York state native, Holmes was born in Brooklyn and was raised in Mount Vernon. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from Bucknell University (Pa.) and a juris doctor from New York University School of Law.
An engaged community member, Holmes has served on the Board of Trustees at Bucknell University, Greenhill School (PreK-12) of Dallas, and Woodward Park School (PreK-8) of Brooklyn. He is co-facilitator for the middle school class and is former director of Men-in-Ministry at Celebration Church in Columbia, Md., and is an executive elder with Celebration United: A Church Development Network.
His wife of 33 years, Joy Clarke-Holmes, is a senior level executive in the energy services performance contracting industry. They have two children: Kwame Holmes, who graduated Magna Cum Laude from Florida A&M, earned a Ph.D. in American History from the University of Illinois-Champagne/Urbana and is scheduled to join the faculty at the University of Colorado Boulder this summer as an assistant professor of history; and Rashida Holmes, who attended the University of Pittsburgh and Baltimore International College, works in the culinary industry and plans to move to Los Angeles this spring prior to relocating to Spain in next fall.
Holmes succeeds Philip Hawkey, who was appointed acting dean in January 2012. Once the new dean takes office, Hawkey will continue serving the university, working on special projects assigned by the University President.
“I personally want to thank Phil for his work at the College of Law,” President Lieberman said. “His experience and leadership strengths are highly beneficial to our university.”