Kellye Testy, the first woman to serve as dean at the Seattle University School of Law and the University of Washington School of Law, is stepping down from her post at the UW.
Kellye Testy, the first woman dean of the Seattle University School of Law and, more recently, the University of Washington School of Law, is stepping down from her UW post at the end of this academic year.
Testy has headed the UW’s law school for eight years, a job she originally only planned to hold for five years. She said she’s ready to give someone else a chance to be dean, although she expects to stay on the faculty.
Testy said she’s particularly proud of her work to hire new faculty, “top-notch scholars and great colleagues,” when an older generation of law-school professors at the UW began to retire.
She also had to work hard to bring the school’s budget in balance during the lean years immediately after the 2008 recession. Applications at many law schools around the country declined in those years, but the UW never experienced too much of a drop, mainly because of its ranking as one of the best law schools in the Northwest, Testy said.
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In recent years, she said, the school has broken fundraising records and forged stronger ties with alumni and friends of the school. One of the most significant donations came from alumnus Jack MacDonald, who died in 2013 and left 30 percent of the income from a $187 million trust to pay for student scholarships and general education needs at the law school, as well as to fund an endowed chair.
The school also has worked to diversify both its faculty and the students. This year, about 24 percent of students at the law school are people of color, Testy said.
That effort was helped by the Gregoire Fellows, a program that began in 2015 to support nine minority law students each year. The program, named after former Gov. Chris Gregoire, also offers the students a mentoring relationship with Gregoire, who served as Washington attorney general.
Testy expects that more students will want to get a law degree in the coming years because battles over immigration have shone a spotlight on the legal profession. People are increasingly paying attention to the importance of the rule of law, she said.
“I tell our students, ‘There’s never been a better time to be a lawyer,’ ” she said. “Your voices are needed.”