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Harvard professor to head Calif. law school

Boalt's new deanwas Clinton advisor

Christopher Edley Jr., a former adviser to the Clinton administration and prominent specialist on civil rights, is leaving Harvard Law School to become the dean of the University of California-Berkeley's law school.


Edley, 50, who helped found the Civil Rights Project at Harvard, and advised Bill Clinton, Michael Dukakis, and Al Gore, will replace John Dwyer, who resigned last year from Berkeley's Boalt Hall School of Law, facing allegations of sexual harassment.

He will be the first African-American head of an elite American law school, according to a Berkeley official.

In an interview last night, Edley said he had originally asked to withdraw his name from consideration for the job because he did not want to leave the Civil Rights Project, which publishes research and books on issues of racial justice, and which Edley currently leads along with Gary Orfield. But the search committee convinced Edley that he could expand the project to Berkeley.

"We are quite persuaded we can make the Civil Rights Project bigger and better and bicoastal," Edley said. "It will be two organizations with one soul."

Edley said he had rebuffed other inquiries about deanships in the past, but was attracted by Boalt's position as a top public law school.

"Excellence isn't only about the training of leaders and the production of knowledge. It's also about service to the broader society in an immediate and powerful way," Edley said.

"They persuaded me that Berkeley can lead the nation's examination of how best to grapple with the racial and ethnic change sweeping America."

The law school was roiled by the university's decision to abandon race-based admissions in the 1990s, but has returned to the same levels of black and Latino representation as before the ban.

Edley said he would undertake an ambitious capital campaign and promote interdisciplinary work in civil rights, the environment, and intellectual property.

"The interdisciplinary culture is far richer and more exciting than at Harvard, frankly, where rigid boundaries often inhibit collaboration," he said.

Edley currently splits his time between Boston and Washington. His wife, former Clinton White House deputy chief of staff Maria Echaveste, will lecture part time at Berkeley, her alma mater.

He has taught at Harvard Law School since 1981, but took leaves to serve as national issues director for the Dukakis presidential campaign and as a senior budget and policy official in the Clinton administration.

Bombardieri can be reached at

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