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UW Law School dean will resign in June

Knight says his decision is unrelated to state ethics complaint

Friday, January 12, 2007

By CHRISTINE FREY
P-I REPORTER

The dean of the University of Washington Law School, the subject of a state ethics complaint and in the midst of a performance review, will resign from his post in June.

W.H. "Joe" Knight Jr., who has served as dean since 2001, told President Mark Emmert of his intentions Thursday, according to a university statement.

  Knight
  W.H. "Joe" Knight Jr. will remain a tenured faculty member.

He will remain a tenured faculty member.

His announcement came during Knight's university performance review. The reviews are done every five years for deans.

He is also the subject of an ethics complaint filed last fall with the state Executive Ethics Board. It accuses Knight of using his university computer to conduct business for State Farm Insurance. He is a director of the company.

The university learned of Knight's computer use a year ago and told him to stop using his e-mail for State Farm business. The university said he complied.

Knight could not be reached for comment Thursday evening.

In a statement, he said: "When I joined the law school in 2001, the university administration exhorted me to become an agent for change in the law school. The law school has gone through a period of transition, and it is now time for new leadership to take it to the next phase."

Emmert said that he was sorry to see Knight step down but that his decision to purse something else after more than five years as dean made sense. He said that he had been talking to Knight before the winter break about his possible resignation and that it was Knight's decision to leave.

"It was not a complete surprise, but it wasn't something I anticipated," Emmert said of Knight's final decision.

The dean had accomplished many positive things during his tenure, he said.

His resignation was a "personal decision" that Knight considered during the break, said Shari Ireton, a spokeswoman for the law school.

It is not related to his review or the ethics complaint, said university spokesman Norm Arkans. Knight's resignation will be effective June 15.

An interim dean would likely be appointed to head the law school while a search is conducted for the next dean, Arkans said.

The reputation of the UW's law school has improved under Knight's tenure, Arkans said. It received $33.3 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in December 2005 to provide scholarships for students seeking careers in public service.

Knight joined the UW after serving as vice provost and law professor at the University of Iowa. His annual salary from the UW is $251,580.

An ethics complaint filed with the state alleges that Knight sent and received hundreds of e-mails at his university e-mail address apparently regarding State Farm business between May 2002 and October 2005. It also claims that Knight sent some of the e-mails during the workday.

The complaint was filed by a Mercer Island lawyer on behalf of an unnamed UW employee.