You are here: American University Provost Communications April 6, 2021

American University Office of the Provost

MemorandumApril 6, 2021

AU Community
Peter Starr, Acting Provost and Chief Academic Officer
Dean, Washington College of Law

I am pleased to announce that, following a thorough national search, Roger A. Fairfax, Jr. has been named dean of the Washington College of Law (WCL). A prominent legal scholar, experienced educator, and dynamic leader, Dean Fairfax currently serves as the Patricia Roberts Harris Research Professor and founding director of the Criminal Law & Policy Initiative at George Washington University Law School. He will join the AU community on July 1, 2021.

Dean Fairfax’s past administrative appointments at GW Law School include Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs (2015–2019) and Associate Dean for Public Engagement (2014–2015). His scholarship has been published in books and leading journals, and he has taught courses and conducted research on criminal law and procedure, professional responsibility and ethics, criminal justice policy and reform, racial justice, and grand jury and internal investigations, among other topics. Dean Fairfax also has championed diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts throughout higher education and the legal profession, and has been a long-time mentor and advocate around enhancing college access for DC-area students.

Prior to his career in academia, Dean Fairfax practiced law with the firm of O’Melveny & Myers LLP in Washington, DC, and served as a federal prosecutor through the Attorney General’s Honors Program in the Public Integrity Section of the US Department of Justice. He began his legal career as a law clerk to Judge Patti B. Saris of the US District Court for the District of Massachusetts, and to Judge Judith W. Rogers of the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit.

Dean Fairfax has served on the boards of the National Bar Association, the Southeastern Association of Law Schools, and the Maryland Office of the Public Defender. He currently serves on the boards of the National Institute for Trial Advocacy and the Historical Society of the DC Circuit, and is an elected Fellow of the American Bar Foundation and an elected member of the American Law Institute. In 2019, Chief Justice John Roberts appointed him to the Judicial Conference of the United States, Advisory Committee on Criminal Rules.

Dean Fairfax is a member of the bar in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Massachusetts, and is admitted to practice in a number of federal trial and appellate courts, including the US Supreme Court. He graduated with honors from Harvard College, the University of London, and Harvard Law School, where he was an NAACP Legal Defense Fund/Shearman & Sterling Scholar, and an editor of the Harvard Law Review

As he returns to the faculty, I would like to thank Robert Dinerstein for his many contributions as acting dean since August 2020. I am also deeply grateful to the members of the search committee, led by Professor Lindsay Wiley, for their work in recruiting this outstanding new dean for WCL.

This is an exciting moment for Dean Fairfax to join our community, as WCL recently had six programs ranked in the top 15 by US News and World Report. The law school is also recognized for its commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion; its spacious 8.5-acre campus that opened in 2016; and programmatic strengths in, among other areas, clinics and experiential education, international law, intellectual property, health law and policy, and trial advocacy. WCL is a leader in legal education thanks to its accomplished faculty, dedicated staff, and talented student body.

Please join me in welcoming Dean Fairfax to American University!