Less than two years after it opened its doors to students, the founding dean of the Bora Laskin Faculty of Law at Lakehead University is resigning from his position today.
“With the program now in place, I feel that now is the time for me to step aside and focus on other challenges,” said Lee Stuesser in announcing his resignation yesterday.
Calling resignations a “personal matter,” Stuesser declined to speak about his decision yesterday. The faculty has named Osgoode Hall Law School’s Lisa Philipps to take over the role of interim dean as of today. An expert in tax law and fiscal policy, she’s taking leave from Osgoode, where she has been a member of the faculty since 1996.
Whitney Donnelly, president of the Lakehead University Law Students’ Society, says she learned of Stuesser’s resignation on Friday. “Students were definitely his passion,” she says, noting Stuesser would always have the new students over at his house for a barbecue at the beginning of the year. “It was nice to see the dean being accessible and down to earth,” she says.
Donnelly also notes Stuesser was a strong advocate for Lakehead’s unique integrated practice curriculum and credits him with ensuring a strong link between the law school and local practitioners, including by having lawyers from around Thunder Bay, Ont., come in as tutors and guest speakers. “He made sure that the law program was really immersed in the Thunder Bay legal community,” says Donnelly, adding that those links helped a lot of students, including herself, land summer jobs in the area.
“I am grateful for the opportunities I’ve had to cut the ribbon, open the doors, and grow this faculty of law from day one,” said Stuesser in announcing his departure.
Stuesser’s accomplishments include helping get the student legal clinic off the ground as well as helping raise $3.5 million in capital and student support funding, according to Donnelly. “He laid the foundation,” she says of his legacy. “He turned a 100-year-old high school into a professional faculty.”
With Stuesser’s departure, the university said it had begun the search for a new dean and would convene a committee soon. The move comes as a number of law schools across Canada are looking for new deans, including the University of Windsor following Camille Cameron’s decision to join Dalhousie University’s Schulich School of Law in September, the University of Saskatchewan College of Law, and the University of New Brunswick Faculty of Law.