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  • Writer's picturePatricia Salkin

This President Was a White House Counsel and Deputy U.S. Solicitor Before Career in Higher Education

Updated: Jan 30, 2023

Marvin Krislov, President of Pace University since 2017 also served as President of Oberlin College from 2007 to 2017. He entered academic administration in 1998 at University of Michigan as vice president and general counsel. During his time at Michigan he led the University of Michigan’s legal defense of its admission policies, resulting in the 2003 Supreme Court decision recognizing the importance of student body diversity.

A Rhodes Scholar, President Krislov is a thought-leader who writes frequently in the press about higher education issues. No prior academic experience before joining the University of Michigan, Krislov joined a growing group of college and university general counsel who stepped up into campus presidencies.

Upon his graduation from Yale Law School, Krislov clerked for Judge Marilyn Hall Patel of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in San Francisco. He found a career in government for ten years at the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Department of Justice (where he focused on Civil Rights), Associate Counsel for the White House, and then Acting Solicitor and Deputy Solicitor for National Operations at the U.S. Department of Labor. Krislov’s commitment to Civil Rights began as he grew up in Kentucky and saw segregation and its impacts. He saw education as the path to help achieve this.

Krislov accomplished much during his ten-year tenure at Oberlin including development of a new strategic plan and the completion of a successful campaign. At Oberlin, Krislov “…led collaborative, consensus-driven efforts to make the college more rigorous, diverse, inclusive, and accessible to students from every socioeconomic background.” Krislov is also credited with raising Oberlin’s international and national profile while championing the value of a liberal arts education.

In an interview on WorkplaceTV, President Krislov as asked what three pieces of advice he had for young lawyers who wanted to pursue leadership roles in higher education. He offered: 1) Be really good at what you do, work hard and learn a lot. He mentioned that when studying law, one needs to understand different perspectives, and this is an important skill. 2) He suggested people find mentors who can help them. 3) He recommends looking for opportunities to grow at your workplace. He offered that you can do this by mentoring others and looking to volunteer for opportunities to stretch yourself and learn new things.

Krislov was not the first lawyer president at Pace University. His immediate predecessor was Stephen Friedman, who served for 10 years from 2007 to 2017. Prior to that he was the Dean of Pace Law School. Prior to becoming dean, he was a, “…senior partner and co-chair of the Corporate Department of Debevoise & Plimpton LLC. He has served as Commissioner of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Capital Markets Policy at the United States Treasury Department, as executive vice president and general counsel of the Equitable Companies Incorporated and the E.F. Hutton Group Inc., and as law clerk for U.S. Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan, Jr.”


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