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  • Writer's picturePatricia Salkin

These 4 Contemporary Lawyer Governors Served as Campus Presidents and Chancellors

In 1985, Raymond P. Shafer, former Governor of Pennsylvania, was appointed as the 18th President of Allegheny College. A former member (and chair from 1972-1981) of the College Board of Trustees, he was familiar with the College and had a track record as an experienced administrator. The Board reached out to Shafer, asking him to serve as interim president while a national search was launched for a new president, and in 1986 the Board named him as President nunc pro tunc. A graduate of Allegheny College, Shafer earned his LLB at Yale Law School, after which he started to work in private practice and then joined the Navy. He was a District Attorney, a member of the PA State Senate, and a Lt. Governor. He served as Governor of Pennsylvania from 1967-1971 and among his many accomplishments was a successful state constitutional convention and acceptance of the document that was created at the Convention. Following his work at the state level, Shafer was appointed by President Nixon to chair the National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse (1971-74), and in 1971 he was also appointed a chairman and chief executive office of the Teleprompter Corporation. He served as counselor to Vice President Nelson Rockefeller from 1975-77; and from 1982-1991 her chaired the National Committee on United States-China Relations. Among the many things he is credited for at Allegheny College was his ability to raise funds – exceeding a $20M goal by $3M and setting a record annual fund year. President Eisenhower commented about Shafer, “In a few word, Ray Shafer has brains, integrity, and guts.”

Former two-term Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy was appointed as the 13th Chancellor of the University of Maine in 2019. In addition, he served as Mayor of Stamford, CT for 14 years, having served on the Stamford Board of Finance for 10 years. Malloy worked as an assistant district attorney in Brooklyn, New York before returning to Connecticut to practice law. His announcement included the following statement from the Chair of the University of Maine System Board of Trustees, James Erwin, “Dan Malloy is an executive leader and public servant committed to taking on complex change initiatives and getting the job done.” The press release noted, “Included among the chancellor’s responsibilities is advocacy for public higher education with elected officials, external stakeholders, and the general public.” It also made mention of Malloy’s strong support of public higher education reform and innovations that improved affordability and student outcomes. Prior to this appointment, Malloy served as the Rappaport Distinguished Visiting Professor at Boston College Law School, where he earned his J.D. Last year the faculty at the University of Southern Maine voted no confidence in Malloy following a similar vote at the University of Maine Augusta. The reasons included the departure of three campus presidents, the lack of faculty input in key decision making and the withholding of important information regarding a candidate in a presidential search.

The University of Oklahoma selected David Boren, former Oklahoma Governor as their president in 1994 where he served for 24 years. A Rhodes Scholar and a graduate of the University of Oklahoma School of Law, following graduation he opened a law office in Seminole, OK and was a professor at Oklahoma Baptist University. He served in the National Guard. Boren said his favorite job was being president of the University of Oklahoma, and his favorite saying was, “Do right and fear not.” His tenure did not end the way presidents hope for as in 2019, he relinquished his affiliation with the University following a Title IX investigation involving allegations by former students during his time as President. A special counsel was assigned to oversee the investigation which resulted in a decision not to seek indictments.

In June 2021, former Alaska Governor Sean Parnell was appointed as Chancellor of the University of Alaska-Anchorage. In making the announcement, University of Alaska President Pat Pitney noted among other things, “He understands the range of issues facing UAA and has proven skills in diversifying and generating revenue,…“He will help stabilize our budget through building UAA’s reputation and expanding enrollment and fundraising.” Pitney also said, “I also recognize Sean’s ability to bring people together and work collaboratively in combination with his knowledge of Alaska leaders, businesses, and economy. I believe he is uniquely positioned to lead UAA in providing the programs that support Anchorage and Alaska’s workforce needs and economic growth.” While he was governor, Sean Parnell was a strong proponent of higher education in Alaska. Prior to this appointment, Parnell was practicing law in the Anchorage office of Holland & Hart LLP. He was elected to two terms in the Alaska House of Representatives (1992 through 1996) and was then elected to the Alaska Senate (1996-2000). In 2006, he was elected Lieutenant Governor and served as Governor of Alaska from 2009 to 2014. Before, during and after his public service career, Parnell engaged in private practice and corporate practice. He worked as an attorney and as the state government relations director for Phillips Petroleum, now known as ConocoPhillips, and at the law firm Patton Boggs. Parnell earned his JD from the University of Puget Sound School of Law (now Seattle University School of Law).


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