David Yellen Named New President of Marist College

Loyola University Chicago School of Law Dean and Professor will be just the fourth President in Marist’s 87 years as a college

Will succeed President Dennis J. Murray, who has held office since 1979

POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. (February 6, 2016) – David Yellen, Dean and Professor of Law at the Loyola University Chicago School of Law, has been named the fourth President of Marist College following a unanimous vote today of its Board of Trustees. He will succeed President Dennis J. Murray, who announced last year his plan to step down from the position on June 30 after 37 years leading Marist.  President-Elect David Yellen

"David Yellen is one of the nation’s top legal educators, an innovative leader highly respected among his peers, and a man of great integrity and commitment to public service," said Ellen Hancock, Chair of the Board of Trustees. "His work as a law school dean, a faculty member, and an attorney gives him a unique appreciation of the distinctive blend of the liberal arts and pre-professional programs that define the Marist experience and positions him well to lead the College to ever-greater heights." 

Yellen writes and speaks frequently on legal education, and National Jurist recently named him to the number 7 position on its list of the "25 Most Influential People in Legal Education," calling him "an innovator for his leadership in the national dialogue addressing today’s challenges facing legal education." Under his tenure, National Jurist also named Loyola University Chicago School of Law one of the nation’s ten best law schools for experiential learning, and Yellen and his school both earned reputations as innovators in the delivery of legal education. Yellen implemented new degree programs, including online, helping Loyola Chicago to earn the distinction of enrolling more online students than any other law school in the country. He also created the Dean’s Diversity Council, which helped increase by more than 50 percent the number of students of color enrolled at the school.

Yellen’s appointment comes almost a year to the day after President Murray announced his transition plan and follows an intensive search process, the success of which was due to broad and active engagement on the part of the entire Marist community.

"David’s skills, interests, and leadership style are ideally aligned with Marist’s mission and heritage," said Ross Mauri ’80, Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees and Chair of the Presidential Search Committee, which consists of a diverse group of fifteen faculty and staff members, trustees, student and alumni representatives. "What the search committee saw throughout his career as an educator and a lawyer was a mutually-beneficial commitment to both student success and public service."

Outside of academe, Yellen was appointed Special Master by Cook County Criminal Division Presiding Judge Paul P. Biebel Jr., working to identify inmates who may be entitled to new trials, having suffered torture by a former Chicago police commander.  He also serves on the Illinois Sentencing Policy Advisory Council and is a member of the Board of Directors of Cook County Justice for Children.  He has written extensively on sentencing issues and served as an advisor on white collar crime to President Clinton's transition team. As an attorney, he has also argued a federal criminal case before the United States Supreme Court. 

Yellen earned his J.D., cum laude, from Cornell Law School, and his B.A., magna cum laude, from Princeton University.

"David has superb academic credentials and a distinguished record of scholarship in the legal field," said Robert J. Grossman, Professor of Management Studies, Chair of the Faculty Affairs Committee, and Presidential Search Committee member. "As a tenured faculty member and dean, he understands both the critical role the faculty plays in college governance and the importance of supporting faculty in their teaching, research, and service. I also am impressed with David's collaborative approach to leadership and his commitment to social justice, both within his institution and in the community.  I know my colleagues on the faculty join me in welcoming him to Marist."

Prior to his decade leading the Loyola University Chicago School of Law, Yellen served as a member of the faculty at Hofstra Law School, where he held the Max Schmertz Distinguished Professorship and served as dean from 2001-2004. He served as the Reuschlein Distinguished Visiting Professor at Villanova University School of Law and has also taught at Cornell Law School and New York Law School.  Before launching his academic career, Yellen clerked for a federal judge, practiced law in Washington, D.C., and served as counsel to the Judiciary Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Yellen will assume office on July 1. He and his wife, Leslie Richards-Yellen, who is Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer and Partner at the law firm of Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP, will relocate from Chicago to Poughkeepsie sometime in the spring. Yellen is originally from New Jersey, and Leslie grew up in Iowa. The couple, who met as law students at Cornell, have three adult daughters, Jordan, Meredith, and Bailey.

"I am honored by this opportunity to lead an incredibly dynamic institution with a growing national and international reputation for educational excellence," said Yellen. "Under President Murray’s leadership, Marist has achieved many great things. I look forward to working with the College’s talented students, faculty, and staff, as well as its dedicated alumni, parents, and friends to build upon those accomplishments. It was clear to me from the outset of this process that Marist is a special place, where the traditions of its founders find continued expression through the great work of everyone associated with the College, both in and out of the classroom. Leslie and I are excited to join this wonderful community."         

Upon Yellen’s taking office, President Murray will assume the roles of President Emeritus and Professor of Public Policy.

"In David Yellen, the Board of Trustees has chosen as the next president of this College someone who has thought broadly and deeply about the future of higher education," said President Murray. "He also understands the unique nature of Marist, where we have blended the liberal arts with pre-professional programs to create a distinctive educational experience for our students. I am confident that his leadership and his impressive record of developing innovative ways to equip students for personal and professional success will serve Marist well in the years ahead."

Yellen has been a member of the American Bar Association’s Task Force on the Future of Legal Education, Co-Chair of the Section on the Law School Dean for the Association of American Law Schools, and a member of the Board of Trustees of Blackburn College in Carlinville, Ill., which, as a member of the Work Colleges Consortium, provides real world experience through a comprehensive "Work, Learning, and Service" approach.

"David Yellen understands and appreciates Marist's unique heritage, culture, and traditions," said Paul X. Rinn ’68, President of the Marist Alumni Association. "On behalf of our more than 39,000 alumni around the world, I look forward to working with him to move the College forward."

Said Timos Pietris, Student Body President and Presidential Search Committee member: "I was very impressed with David's record of commitment to the student experience. He has personally mentored many students, providing valuable academic and professional guidance. I know Marist will benefit greatly from his leadership."

Chair Mauri said the Presidential Search Committee’s success was due to the thoughtful participation of the entire Marist community, as well as the hard work and cooperation among its members.

"I want to thank my colleagues on the search committee for their good work over the course of many months," said Mauri. "All the committee members dedicated themselves to a thorough, fair, and inclusive process, which required a significant investment of time and effort. The committee’s focus from the start was to identify an individual with the balance of intellect, integrity, and experience necessary to lead the College through what will surely be an exciting and challenging time in higher education. With the selection of David Yellen from a field of excellent candidates, I know that we have achieved that important goal."  

The search committee, which included representatives from the Board of Trustees, the faculty, Dean’s Council, senior administration, staff, Student Government Association, and Alumni Association, partnered with Isaacson, Miller, one of the top executive search firms in the area of higher education. With the firm’s assistance, the committee spent the spring and summer of 2015 conducting extensive listening sessions and interviews with all Marist stakeholders, including full- and part-time faculty members, Heritage Professors, students, staff, alumni/ae, members of the Board of Trustees, parents, retirees, Marist Brothers, members of the Florence branch campus, and other key constituents. From these sessions emerged several common and important themes that were ultimately reflected in the position description, which drew a large and diverse pool of qualified applicants.

"The number of top-quality candidates was a testament to the College’s elevated reputation," Mauri said.

Yellen will be formally introduced to the college community at a series of meetings on Monday, February 8.

About Marist College

Marist College is located in the historic Hudson River Valley and at its branch campus in Florence, Italy. It is a comprehensive, independent institution grounded in the liberal arts.  Marist is dedicated to helping students develop the intellect, character, and skills required for enlightened, ethical, and productive lives in the global community of the 21st century.  The College is consistently recognized for excellence by top organizations like The Princeton Review, which included it in its latest book, Colleges That Create Futures: 50 Schools That Launch Careers By Going Beyond the Classroom. It has also been recognized by U.S. News & World Report (13th Best Regional University), Kiplinger’s Personal Finance (Best Values in Private Colleges), and others.  Though now independent, Marist remains committed to the ideals handed down from its founders, the Marist Brothers: excellence in education, a sense of community, and a commitment to service.  Marist educates 4,700 traditional-age undergraduate students and more than 1,300 adult and graduate students in 46 undergraduate majors and 13 graduate programs, including fully online MBA, MPA, MS, and MA degrees.