It’s no small accomplishment to keep a complex machine like UB School of Law running smoothly. Now one of the school’s best-connected administrators, after more than a decade in John Lord O’Brian Hall, is moving on down the road.
James R. Newton was the law school’s vice dean for administration since 2009, following terms as associate dean for administration, associate dean for national outreach and strategic planning, and assistant dean for development. As vice dean, he has overseen the departments of Admissions and Student Life; Alumni and Communications; Budget and Facilities; Career Services; Development; Information Technology; Records, Registration and Financial Aid; and Student Services. He also has supervised the dean’s office and served as the dean’s chief of staff. Not to mention managing the school’s accreditation process and serving as principal liaison to the Dean’s Advisory Council.
If not the face of the law school, Jim Newton has been close to its beating heart.
Now he’s returning to the University of Rochester, from which he graduated in 1994, to become executive director of advancement for the U of R’s William E. Simon School of Business, leading the school’s advancement team and serving as its lead development officer. “I received an outstanding education in Rochester, and I love the university,” Newton says. “It’s exciting to now return in an official capacity. I have always been struck by how much our Buffalo graduates love the School of Law – it’s the same for me with Rochester, but I will certainly miss the terrific alumni, faculty and staff at UB.”
“For the last seven years, Jim, more than any single individual, has kept this place running,” interim Dean James A. Gardner wrote in a staff memo announcing the departure. “He has handled a huge portfolio of routine matters, from budgeting, to personnel matters, to U.S. News ranking analysis, to speechwriting, while taking on any number of special assignments that have ranged all over the map. Nobody in the building knows more about how the institution runs or the people who inhabit it.”
Newton will take that flexibility to the Simon school, which he says shares some of the same challenges as the Law School. “The competition to attract the best students in law and in business is fierce,” he says. “Both institutions are doing everything in their power to increase their name recognition and prestige. And fundamentally, both schools are working hard to make sure they are providing the best education possible so that their students excel in the marketplace.”
Newton, a graduate as well of Cornell Law School, came to UB in 2003 after working for six years in private and corporate law practice. Since then, he says, the School of Law has changed dramatically. “We have had many retirements and many new additions, both faculty and staff,” he says. “So, when you look at the people, it has been a time of enormous change. At the same time, much has been constant, including incredible alumni and terrific students. That made working at the law school extremely rewarding and a lot of fun.”
It was fondness of his alma mater that helped draw Newton back to the University of Rochester, and he says he has found that same fierce pride among SUNY Buffalo Law alumni. “The School of Law’s alumni – in huge numbers – answer the call,” Newton says. “Whenever we pick up the phone and ask for help, they say yes. I have been amazed that the busiest practitioners give so much of themselves to help the school and our students.”
Under Newton’s watch, the School of Law became a member of the prestigious Order of the Coif; registered substantially improved student satisfaction as measured by yearly surveys; and saw more than $3 million in capital improvements to O’Brian Hall. But through it all, Newton says, it has been his work with the people of the School of Law that has provided the most satisfaction.
“I think you get the best from your colleagues by demonstrating that you care about them, and that you are committed to their success and the success of the institution,” he says. “I also think it’s important to have fun together, while you work very hard.”