by Richard Prior
Jacksonville Daily Record Staff Writer
April 5, 2004
A Midwesterner who has made legal education his life’s work has been named the new dean at Florida Coastal School of Law.
Peter Goplerud, who has been dean of the Drake University Law School in Des Moines, Iowa, for the past six years, will take over the job June 30.
“It’s a very exciting opportunity,” said Goplerud. “I’m looking forward to all sorts of good things for the school down the road and for the whole enterprise.”
He has been on sabbatical since July, “which has provided a nice little break from the classroom. The idea is to spend some time doing research and writing.”
“We’re very excited to have him coming on board,” said FCSL interim Dean Dennis Stone. “As Florida Coastal grows and develops, he will provide critical leadership.
“He will be an asset not only to Florida Coastal School of Law, but to the local community as well.”
Goplerud grew up in Iowa City and earned a bachelor’s degree in English at the University of Kansas, where he also received his law degree.
He clerked for Kansas Supreme Court Justice David Prager and was on the faculty at the University of Akron School of Law, his first legal education experience.
He moved on as a member of the faculty, to associate dean and dean at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale. Before coming to Drake, he was dean of the University of Oklahoma Law School at Norman.
“I left (Iowa) to go to college, thinking I’d never be back,” said Goplerud. “Thirty years later, the opportunity was there to be dean at Drake University and I took advantage of that.”
His resume also includes experience as visiting professor at St. Louis University School of Law; visiting professor at Universite d’Auvergne, Clermont-Ferrand, France; and visiting professor at Universite de Nantes, Nantes, France.
He has not been associated with private law firms but has been of counsel to large firms in Denver and Tulsa.
“I have always attempted to keep a footing in the ‘real world,’ ” said Goplerud. “I’ve done, and still do, a fair amount of consulting, though there’ll be very little time for any of that down there.”
He has completed one, and nearly completed another, law review article. “Sports Law: Cases and Materials,” a text he co-wrote, went into its fifth printing last fall.
His wife, Mariette Brodeur, is an attorney, currently working as Health and Human Service policy adviser to Iowa Gov. Thomas Vilsack. They have two children, Zoe, 10, and Ava, 6.
“The girls were a little upset the other night when we told them,” he said. “But the next day, they came back pretty strong with some thoughts about living near the beach and where they can play tennis outdoors year round.”
Goplerud and his wife planned to be in Jacksonville over the weekend — he attending meetings; she looking at housing prospects.
“We’re looking at it as a great opportunity,” he said. “Both of us are very excited to be going to new surroundings, meeting new people and learning about a new part of the country.”
As a law student, Goplerud anticipated being in practice or working in a government agency, “the same things most law students think about while they’re in school,” he said. “Being an educator really did not come into my thought processes until I was clerking for Prager.
“At that point, I got to know several different law professors. Talking with them really sparked my interest in education.”
His father, an obstetrician/gynecologist, was also in academics most of his career. He spent 35 years on the faculty of the University of Iowa Medical School.
“So the academic seed was probably planted back somewhere along the way, “ he said.
Goplerud and his wife are looking forward to the challenges the new job brings. He expects less challenging winters will ease the transition.
“It will be very different, not experiencing winter this way,” he said. “We had a pretty tough one here. We had 16 inches of snow in one day, on the 15th of March.”
Goplerud’s wife will spend the next several weeks “winding down her work in the governor’s office,” he said. “The legislature is still in session, so they’re all very much in the thick of things.”
The whole family will probably move in mid-July, after the two girls fulfill their commitments to some activities in June. Goplerud doesn’t anticipate making any hasty moves.
“I intend to use the first several months to get to know the people, to gain a better understanding of the programs in place and to evaluate how we can best take advantage of the foundation that has been so well laid by Donald Lively, Dennis Stone and the others.” He said.