Olsen Named Dean of UB Law School

By Sue Wuetcher

Release Date: May 28, 1998

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- R. Nils Olsen, Jr., has been named dean of the University at Buffalo School of Law, effective Aug. 1.

Olsen, a professor of law, currently serves as vice dean for academic affairs in the UB law school.

Olsen will succeed Barry B. Boyer, who has served as the school's chief academic and administrative officer since 1992. Boyer will remain a member of the law faculty, resuming full-time teaching responsibilities and overseeing the law school's continuing technological development.

As dean, Olsen will have overall responsibility for the development of academic programs, faculty recruitment and advancement, and for maintaining standards of teaching, scholarship and creative activity.

He also will have chief responsibility for planning and budgeting, equipment and space allocations, and personnel, and oversee development activities within the school and among its alumni and supporters.

"The law school will benefit from Nils' exceptional credential, academic achievements and administrative experience," said Provost Thomas E. Headrick, who made the appointment. "The positive, unanimous recommendation from his colleagues and external constituencies is an affirmation of his ability to serve the school as dean.

"Nils brings his insightful and understanding leadership to a school that is one of UB's major assets," Headrick continued. "He will fill the law school's most significant needs in the coming years for continuity in such critical endeavors as the new curriculum, student recruitment, faculty development and a capital campaign."

UB President William R. Greiner noted that Olsen "has done an outstanding job of serving the law school in two key positions, that of vice dean for academic affairs and director of clinical studies.

"He has also played a major role in creating and implementing the law school's innovative new curriculum, which has greatly enhanced the school's educational program and is highly regarded nationally," Greiner said.

Olsen joined the UB law faculty as an associate professor in 1978 after serving as a lecturer of law and clinical fellow at the University of Chicago School of Law. Prior to that, he was judicial law clerk to Chief Judge Thomas E. Fairchild of the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Chicago.

As vice dean since 1994, Olsen has overseen the implementation of the school's new curriculum, designed to help bridge the gap that has existed historically between law school and practice. He also has been responsible for long-range planning, evaluation and self-study, enrollment targeting and faculty recruitment, promotion and tenure.

In addition to his duties as vice dean, Olsen has served as director of clinical education for the law school, maintaining administrative responsibility for the in-house clinical program comprised of nine clinical instructors who provide closely supervised, legal experience in diverse areas of practice to about 100 students each year.

He also has continued his research in the areas of federal post-conviction remedies and environmental policy.

In his clinical teaching in the law school, Olsen represented the plaintiffs in Smith v. Coughlin, a federal habeas corpus class-action lawsuit filed in the Western District of New York that challenged the significant delays that were prevalent on direct appeals of state criminal convictions. The case led to substantial changes in the oversight of such appeals in the Appellate Division and increased county funding of indigent appeals.

He also has represented numerous community-based, citizen environmental groups and several local municipalities in on-going environmental disputes, ranging from the proposed siting of hazardous-waste incinerators in Niagara County to assisting in the drafting of local land-use planning legislation. He was instrumental in the negotiation and drafting of a comprehensive agreement between a national hazardous-waste disposal corporation and Niagara County municipalities that resulted in a 15-year ban on applications for approval of hazardous-waste incinerators.

A 1974 graduate of the Columbia University School of Law, Olsen received a bachelor's degree with honors from the University of Wisconsin.

He is a member of the Lewiston-Porter school board, and has served as a member of the boards of directors of New York State Environmental Advocates, the Youngstown Free Library and Great Lakes United.

Olsen resides in Youngstown.