Founding Dean Jeff Kinsler announces return to full-time faculty
Belmont University announced today the appointment of Judge Alberto Gonzales, former U.S. Attorney General, to the position of dean for the College of Law, effective June 1. The news comes on the heels of Founding Dean Jeff Kinsler’s announcement that he has decided to become a full-time faculty member.
Belmont Provost Dr. Thomas Burns said, “Belmont University is incredibly grateful for the vision and commitment Dean Kinsler has shown these past five years to open and establish our College of Law as well as to lead us through the accreditation process. With his decision to transition to full-time teaching, I join the College of Law students, staff and faculty in welcoming Judge Gonzales to his new role as dean. His valuable expertise and classroom approach have been applauded repeatedly by our students, and everyone in the College is excited about the leadership he will bring as dean.”
Judge Gonzales joined Belmont Law in 2012 as the then-newly established Doyle Rogers Distinguished Chair of Law and has taught courses in Constitutional Law, Separation of Powers, National Security Law and First Amendment Law. His appointment to dean was approved by the College of Law faculty prior to the announcement. As dean Gonzales will serve as the chief academic and executive officer for Belmont’s College of Law and will be responsible for the programmatic leadership, financial management, personnel administration and planning and development for the College.
Gonzales said, “I am honored by this opportunity and grateful for the support of President Fisher and Dr. Burns. I look forward to working with the outstanding faculty, staff and students at Belmont College of Law.”
After attending the United States Air Force Academy, Alberto Gonzales graduated from Rice University (B.A.) and Harvard University (J.D.). Gonzales was nominated by President George W. Bush and confirmed by the United States Senate as the 80th Attorney General of the United States on February 3, 2005 and served in that capacity until September 2007. Previously, he served as a partner at a major Houston law firm (Vinson & Elkins) and held positions as Justice on the Supreme Court of Texas, Secretary of State (Texas) and Counsel to the President of the United States (2001-2005) in addition to his consulting and mediation practice.
During his time in Nashville, Judge Gonzales has also served as counsel at Waller, a position he will resign to focus full-time on the College of Law. “It has been an honor to work with Alberto Gonzales at Waller for the past few years. His experience and insight have been tremendous assets to the firm,” said Waller Chairman John Tishler. “He has made a significant impact both at Waller and at the Belmont University College of Law since he arrived in Middle Tennessee, and we’re confident of success as he transitions to his new full-time role as dean. We look forward to Judge Gonzales being a member of the Nashville legal community for years to come.”
Judge Gonzales is a member of the current Leadership Nashville class and was appointed last fall by Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam to the Governor’s Commission for Judicial Appointments and the Governor’s Management Fellows Executive Committee. He also presently serves on the board of directors of the United Way of Metropolitan Nashville, the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee and the Jason Foundation.
Among his many professional associations, Gonzales has served as a member of the American Law Institute, the leading independent organization in the United States producing scholarly work to clarify, modernize and otherwise improve the law. For his many accomplishments and years of public service, Gonzales has been recognized as a Distinguished Alumnus of Rice University and received the Harvard Law School Association Award as well as the Central Intelligence Agency’s Director’s Award and the Office of the Secretary of Defense Medal for Exceptional Public Service. His work in the Hispanic community and his achievements as a role model have also earned him recognition as Hispanic American of the Year by HISPANIC Magazine and one of The 25 Most Influential Hispanics in America by TIME Magazine.
Founding Dean Kinsler, who graduated first in his class from Valparaiso University School of Law (’89) and obtained a master of laws degree (LL.M., ‘96) from Yale Law School, came to Belmont in 2009 to lead Belmont in the process of establishing the first new law school in Tennessee in 100 years. The College of Law received provisional accreditation from the American Bar Association on June 8, 2013. With the College of Law’s first class set to graduate May 10, Kinsler desires to return full-time to the classroom. Kinsler said, “This is the right time for me to step down, as we have just completed our third successful accreditation site visit. My time as Founding Dean has been the most important, rewarding and challenging experience of my professional career. I feel honored to have been afforded this opportunity and grateful for the support of President Fisher and Dr. Burns, as well as the law faculty, staff and students.”
About Belmont College of Law
Belmont’s College of Law provides a natural extension of the university’s mission and vision, which emphasize challenging academics, a service-minded approach, real-world experience and community leadership. Belmont law graduates will be practice-ready attorneys, empowered by their education and co-curricular experiences to provide legal counsel in a variety of settings, with commitment to high standards of expertise and ethics. The College of Law is housed on campus in the Randall and Sadie Baskin Center, which includes a state-of-the-art law library. For more information on the College of Law, visit www.belmont.edu/law.