McCabe to Conclude Service as School of Law Dean, Continue as Professor

Margaret Sova McCabe, who has been the dean of the School of Law since 2018, will step down at the end of the 2021-22 academic year while continuing her teaching and research interests at the U of A.
Photo by Russell Cothren

Margaret Sova McCabe, who has been the dean of the School of Law since 2018, will step down at the end of the 2021-22 academic year while continuing her teaching and research interests at the U of A.

Margaret Sova McCabe will step down from her position as dean of the School of Law effective June 30, 2022, while continuing to serve on faculty as professor of law.

An interim dean will be named for the academic year 2022-23, and Interim Provost Terry Martin will convene a committee to search for the new dean. Details will be announced in the coming months.

“I would like to thank Dean McCabe for her leadership and recognize the School of Law’s many accomplishments under her direction,” Martin said. “I’m very thankful that she will remain on faculty at the U of A, continuing to share her immense expertise with our students moving forward.”

“I’m excited to re-engage in my teaching and research interests while expanding my campus and national collaborations with a variety of faculty and administrative colleagues next year,” McCabe said. “The timing of this news ensures that the provost will have adequate time to consult with the faculty regarding the leadership transition so that we can remain institutionally strong. Despite changing roles at the end of the academic year, my enthusiastic support of our university and the law school community will not waver.”

A few of School of Law’s accomplishments under McCabe’s leadership include:

  • Named among top 20 best values in legal education, ranking 13th for 2021 by National Jurist publication preLaw.
  • Named among the top 15 schools for prestigious federal clerkship placements by National Jurist publication preLaw.
  • Launched a Summer Public Service Fellowship Program in 2019, with the aim of providing paid public service fellowships to promising law students interested in public service careers. The program, which is part of the law school’s broader effort to fulfill the university's land-grant mission, is currently in its third year and has had 28 summer fellows.
  • Commenced Dean’s Circle Faculty Awards to recognize excellence in teaching and advising, research and scholarship, and public service.
  • Welcomed five exceptional faculty members — Alena Allen as associate dean for research and faculty development and professor of law, Blair D. Bullock, Caleb N. Griffin, Amanda Hurst and Alex Nunn as assistant professors.
  • Unprecedented student success despite the global pandemic: 2021 saw the largest incoming class with a median LSAT score of 156 and median GPA of 3.6. Fifty percent of the class identified as female and 25 percent identified as students of color.

McCabe was appointed in 2018 to serve as the law school’s 13th dean; she is the third consecutive woman to serve in this role.

Before joining the University of Arkansas, McCabe was a member of the University of New Hampshire (UNH) School of Law’s faculty and served as its Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and prior to that its Associate Dean for Academic Administration. McCabe served in these roles during the integration of the Franklin Pierce Law Center, an independent law school that pioneered intellectual property education, into the University of New Hampshire, the state’s land grant and flagship institution.

While at UNH, McCabe was also a faculty fellow in food systems at the UNH Sustainability Institute and an affiliate faculty member at the Carsey School of Public Policy. Her teaching portfolio includes Administrative Law & Process; Food Law & Policy; and in Arkansas, she recently co-taught an Honors College seminar entitled, Food Matters. The course offered interdisciplinary perspectives on food systems including agricultural economics, production, and law.

Aligning her research with her teaching, McCabe’s scholarship has focused on regulatory and legal issues in the food system including obesity, food marketing, scientific standards and food labeling, sustainable food system design, and government’s development of dietary guidelines.

During her tenure as Dean at the University of Arkansas, McCabe created an integrated approach to student success including integrating advising, career services and externships, and academic support. She has also taken steps to advance the school’s approach to diversity, equity, and inclusion to foster a dynamic, inclusive culture for the law school’s students, faculty, and staff. 

McCabe is a graduate of Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York where she was one of the first students to pursue an interdisciplinary sustainability program. She earned her law degree from the University of Maine where she served as an articles editor on Maine Law’s Ocean & Coastal Law Journal. Before entering the legal academy, she served in the NH Department of Safety’s Commissioner’s Office, advising on a broad range of public safety and law enforcement issues, and practiced law in New Hampshire and Maine.

The School of Law offers a competitive J.D. as well as an advanced LL.M. program, which are taught by nationally recognized faculty. The school offers unique opportunities for students to participate in pro bono work, externships, live client clinics, competitions, and food and agriculture initiatives. The school strives to identify, discuss, and challenge issues of race, color, ethnicity, and the impact(s) they have on students, faculty, and staff members in an effort to achieve a diverse, inclusive, and equitable community. From admitting the Six Pioneers who were the first African American students to attend law school in the South without a court order to graduating governors, judges, prosecutors, and faculty who went on to become President of the United States and Secretary of State, the law school has a rich history and culture.


Yusra Sultana, director of communications
School of Law


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