UM reportedly selects W.Va. law dean Gifford's background includes fund-raising

The University of Maryland law school has chosen Donald G. Gifford, the head of West Virginia's law school, to be its new dean, according to several sources.

Mr. Gifford, 39, has been dean of the West Virginia law school since August 1989 and is credited with increasing private contributions and strengthening the school's minority student recruitment program.


He would replace Michael Kelly, who resigned last July, after 17 years as dean, to become a vice president of Georgetown University .

Mr. Gifford was expected to be in Baltimore today for an official announcement. "I've been asked not to say anything prior to the announcement," he said yesterday from his office in Morgantown.


Mr. Gifford is a graduate of the College of Wooster, in Wooster, Ohio, and Harvard Law School. He taught at the University of Florida law school from 1984 to 1989. Before that, he practiced law and taught at the University of Toledo College of Law.

The law school search committee recommended Mr. Gifford and Burnele Venable Powell, associate dean at the University of North Carolina School of Law, and the two finalists met with students in separate sessions last March.

David S. Bogen, the committee chairman, and Theresa A. Silanskis, director of UM Law's alumni program, said the school needed someone to raise money to supplement the institution's state funding.

Mr. Gifford's resume says he raised $3.7 million in private contributions during his first year as dean, compared with a total of $176,000 raised the previous year.

"I'm thrilled to death," Ms. Silanskis said of the prospect of Mr. Gifford coming to UM.

"He's a fund-raiser; he's willing to build the endowment of the school."

She said it did not matter that Mr. Gifford's work history does not include Ivy League-caliber schools.

"One of the things he's interested in doing is promoting Maryland as a wonderful school," Ms. Silanskis said. "I think he has the know-how to do that. And I think that's more important than any clout that anyone can bring from a big-name school."


Mr. Gifford is a graduate of the College of Wooster, in Wooster, Ohio, and Harvard Law School.