Charleston School of Law names new dean

April 2, 2020  – President J. Edward Bell, III of the Charleston School of Law announced today that Larry Cunningham, J.D., has been selected as Dean of the Charleston School of Law after a nationwide search. Cunningham comes from St. John’s University School of Law in Queens, New York, where he has been a law professor for 12 years and has served as Vice Dean, Associate Academic Dean, Associate Dean for Student Services, and Assistant Dean for Students. Most recently he has been leading the school’s efforts in assessment and strategic planning as Associate Dean for Assessment and Institutional Effectiveness. He also serves as the Director of the Center for Trial and Appellate Advocacy.

President Bell said Larry Cunningham was an outstanding applicant for this position and brings the necessary energy and expertise needed at a law school of this caliber.

“I am excited to be joining Charleston School of Law,” said Cunningham. “During my visit, I was impressed by the faculty’s commitment to students and effective teaching. The students I met with were energetic, thoughtful, and committed to using their education to serve the greater good. I look forward to helping the Law School achieve its goals in the years to come.” He recorded a video message introducing himself to students, in which he describes his commitment to providing students with a practice-ready education.[/vc_column_text]

A Message from Dean Cunningham

Cunningham will begin his position on June 30, 2020.

“Outgoing Dean Andy Abrams, who has been a staunch supporter and guiding force of the law school for the past 12 years, has not only been an asset to our school, but his leadership and guidance has helped us get through some very tumultuous times, keeping the school on solid and firm ground,” said Bell. “We are fortunate that Andy Abrams will remain on the faculty at Charleston School of Law and continue to teach our students in his unique way.”

About Larry Cunningham

Cunningham earned his B.S. from John Jay College of Criminal Justice, his J.D. from Georgetown, a graduate certificate in assessment from Sam Houston State University, and a graduate certificate in organizational leadership from Villanova.

A former prosecutor and federal judicial law clerk, Cunningham has been a professor teaching Evidence, Legal Writing, Appellate Advocacy, and other courses.  In 2016, he served as a Fulbright specialist in Cambodia, where he lectured at the Royal University of Law and Economics.

During his tenure serving in the school’s administration, St. John’s graduate employment outcomes have soared to number 14 in the country and second in New York City.  In 2010, he overhauled the school’s career development efforts by implementing a comprehensive, proactive approach to student advisement and placement that is integrated throughout the academic program.

As second-in-charge from 2013 through 2018, he created and implemented the school’s strategic plan, which increased entering credentials, boosted outputs, developed new revenue streams, and led to a rise in the rankings.

Cunningham takes a data-driven approach to decision making. “I base decisions on data, not hunches,” he said. “I also like to think of creative solutions to problems and encourage others to do the same. I believe firmly in transparency and open dialogue to help reach the results that will be best for students.  I view everything through the lens of student success.”

Cunningham has served on ABA site teams for accreditation, published a wide range of articles, and has been active in the New York State Bar Association, currently serving as the co-chair of the Committee on Legal Education and Admission to the Bar.

At St. John’s, he received the Dean’s Award on three occasions and was awarded the St. John’s University Outstanding Achievement Medal in 2019.

Cunningham and his husband, Jonnathan Kessler, will relocate in June to the Charleston area, where they have a local connection: Cunningham’s mother lives in nearby Summerville.

About the Charleston School of Law

The Charleston School of Law offers students the unique opportunity to study the time-honored practice of law amid the beauty and grace of one of the South’s most historic cities.  Students at the Charleston School of Law study law as a profession and find a faculty focused on using the law as a calling in the public interest.


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