M. Elizabeth Magill ’95 Named UVA Provost

Former UVA Law Vice Dean Plans to Begin New Role in Summer 2019
Liz Magill

Magill served 15 years on the Law School faculty. Photos by Ed Caldwell and Sanjay Suchak/UVA Communications

August 3, 2018

M. Elizabeth “Liz” Magill, a 1995 alumna and former vice dean of the University of Virginia School of Law, will serve as UVA’s next executive vice president and provost, President Jim Ryan ’92 announced Friday.

“I am confident her experience and creativity will serve her well as the university’s chief academic officer,” Ryan said.

Magill will also be the first woman to hold the role at the University.

“Liz Magill will be an extraordinary provost for the University of Virginia,” said Ian Baucom, Buckner W. Clay Dean of the College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences and chair of the provost search committee. “She is widely recognized for her exceptional scholarship and leadership skills across the academy, and her strong familiarity with UVA will undoubtedly help her guide the academic enterprise to further heights of excellence.”

Magill, who has served as the Richard E. Lang Professor of Law and dean of Stanford Law School since 2012, plans to assume the position of provost in the summer of 2019, succeeding Thomas C. Katsouleas. The provost oversees the University’s teaching and research activities, and directs the academic administration of the 11 schools, the library, art museums, public service activities, University centers and foreign study programs.

“Serving as provost at the University of Virginia is in many ways a dream come true for me,” Magill said. “The University and Charlottesville communities always have been special for me and my family. I look forward to working with President Ryan, J.J. and our outstanding deans, faculty, staff and students as we forge ahead and continue the University’s leading role in public higher education, research and service.”  

An expert in administrative law and constitutional law, Magill was the Joseph Weintraub–Bank of America Distinguished Professor of Law and the Elizabeth D. and Richard A. Merrill Professor at Virginia. She joined the faculty in 1997, teaching administrative law, constitutional law, food and drug law, and seminars in constitutional structure and administrative law. As vice dean from 2009-12, she helped manage the school’s curricular direction and faculty recruiting efforts, and oversaw the offices of the registrar and the dean of students.

“During her time at the Law School, Liz was an outstanding leader and wonderful colleague, as well as an influential scholar and teacher,” Dean Risa Goluboff said. “We have missed her during her Stanford deanship, and we could not be more delighted at her return. The whole University will no doubt benefit as she puts her many and considerable talents to work on its behalf.”

Magill is Stanford’s 13th law dean. During her tenure, she expanded the school’s academic program and experiential learning opportunities to include a first-of-its-kind Law & Policy Lab; Global Initiative, a program that incorporates the complexity of a globalized world into the law school curriculum; and intimate discussion seminars held at faculty homes, which deepened ties between faculty and students.

Magill presided over a major effort to hire faculty, bolstered fundraising and alumni engagement, expanded and redesigned student-life initiatives, and increased the school’s commitment to public interest fellowships and diversity and inclusion efforts.

She also played a major role in the university’s long-range planning process and led a university-wide task force on sexual assault policies and practices.

“Liz Magill has led Stanford Law School to new heights of achievement and innovation,” Stanford Provost Persis Drell said. “She also has been a true citizen of the university, working to support and advance our community as a whole. Liz’s appointment at the University of Virginia recognizes her enormous talents, her effective leadership and her deep personal commitment to excellent scholarship and the highest-quality educational experience for students.”

Magill has served as a fellow in the Program in Law and Public Affairs at Princeton University, as a visiting professor at Harvard Law School and as the Thomas Jefferson Visiting Fellow at Downing College in Cambridge University. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Law Institute.

A native of Fargo, North Dakota, Magill received her undergraduate degree in history from Yale University, then worked as a senior legislative assistant for energy and natural resources for U.S. Sen. Kent Conrad of North Dakota.

She left Capitol Hill to go to law school at UVA, where she was an articles development editor of the Virginia Law Review and received several awards, including the Margaret G. Hyde Award, the Jackson and Walker Award for Academic Achievement, the Mary Claiborne and Roy H. Ritter Scholarship, and the Food and Drug Law Institute Scholarship.

After law school, Magill clerked for Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III ’72 of the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and then for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Following her clerkship with Ginsburg, she joined the Virginia faculty in 1997. Magill’s scholarship focuses on the complex relationship between legal doctrine and the behavior of institutional actors such as agencies, courts, Congress and the president, as well as private attorneys.

As she left UVA to join Stanford in 2012, Magill said the Law School faculty and the leadership of the deans she served under had a profound impact on her academic path.

“I was lucky to join this faculty as a rookie faculty member, and the community here has made me the best scholar, teacher and citizen that I could be,” she said. “When I was just starting out as a scholar, many senior faculty members took seriously the work I was doing, and they helped me to see how to make it better. … My colleagues’ commitment to excellence in scholarship — scholarship that advances understanding, is done with care, and exhibits ambition — has shaped my view of what scholarship, at its best, can be.”

Magill’s husband is Leon Szeptycki, who previously directed an environmental law clinic at UVA Law. He is currently executive director of Stanford’s Water in the West program and professor of the practice at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment. They have two children.

Ryan also announced new hires for other key roles at the University: “J.J.” Wagner Davis will serve as executive vice president and chief operating officer, and Alex Hernandez will be dean of the School of Continuing and Professional Studies.

Founded in 1819, the University of Virginia School of Law is the second-oldest continuously operating law school in the nation. Consistently ranked among the top law schools, Virginia is a world-renowned training ground for distinguished lawyers and public servants, instilling in them a commitment to leadership, integrity and community service.

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