McCormack announced as Interim President and Dean, Brennan and Sala assume new interim roles

Interim Dean and President Beth McCormack. Source: Instagram

By Lorentz Hansen, Copy Editor

On Sat., Jan. 23, Vermont Law School (VLS) students received an announcement that Beth McCormack would serve as the school’s Interim President and Dean, effective Jan. 24, 2021. McCormack is now the first woman President and Dean in Vermont Law School’s 49-year history. 

The email, written by Glenn J. Berger (JD’78), current Chair of Vermont Law School’s Board of Trustees, also announced that former President and Dean Thomas McHenry will now serve as Dean Emeritus until the end of June 2021.

As a result, McCormack’s former position as Vice Dean for Students has been assumed by Prof. Joseph Brennan, whose former position as Director of Academic Success has been assumed by Prof. Richard Sala (JD/MELP ’13).

At Tuesday’s Student Bar Association (SBA) meeting, McCormack addressed her appointment, saying, “I couldn’t be more honored.” McCormack also acknowledged the historic nature of her appointment. “I am especially honored to be the first woman to serve as President and Dean of the law school,” she remarked. 

McHenry announced on Nov. 13 his decision not to seek a second term as President and Dean of the school. McHenry’s initial announcement stated that he would step down at the end of this academic year, in June 2021.

McHenry joined VLS as President and Dean in 2017, and has also taught Water Quality, New Frontiers in Environmental Law & Policy, and Forest Law and Policy during his time as President and Dean of the school.

In Berger’s announcement, he thanked McHenry “for his hard work and dedication to VLS over the last three and a half years” and noted that McHenry will be working with McCormack “to ensure an orderly transition.”

McCormack joined Vermont Law School (VLS) ten years ago and has since served in the school’s administration as Vice Dean for Students, Deputy Vice Dean for Academic Affairs, Assistant Director of the Academic Success Program, and Assistant Director of the Legal Writing Program. McCormack has also taught several classes, including Civil Procedure, both Appellate & Advanced Appellate Advocacy, Arbitration, and Legal Writing, among others.

McCormack will serve as Interim President and Dean over the next 18 months, according to Berger. During this time the school will “continue[] to work on important strategic initiatives and start[] a search this summer for the next President and Dean,” wrote Berger.  

In her new role as Interim President and Dean, McCormack announced on Tuesday morning that Brennan had been appointed Interim Vice Dean for Students, and Sala had been appointed Interim Director of Academic Success, effective immediately. 

As McCormack noted in her email, “[i]n addition to a history of outstanding GAYLA performances” Brennan has served as Director of the school’s Academic Success Program (ASP) and taught several classes in legal writing and Bar Exam preparation, among others, since joining VLS in 2015. 

Brennan is also known for “his unwavering commitment to all students and his homemade ice cream,” wrote McCormack. 

McCormack’s email also announced Sala’s appointment as Interim Director of Academic Success. Sala joined VLS in 2019 as Assistant Director of Academic Success, while also teaching courses in National Security Law, Constitutional Law, Legal Methods, and Bar Exam preparation at the school. 

Sala graduated from VLS in 2013 with his JD and MELP degrees, after which he went on to join the Judge Advocate General’s Corps as a criminal prosecutor, among other positions, and earn an MBA from the University of Rochester in 2018. From 1997 to 2007, Sala served as an infantryman in the Marine Corps, before earning the rank of Staff Sergeant. He also served as a Judge Advocate, platoon commander, Second Lieutenant, among other roles, during his service. 

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