Gilbert A. Holmes was named dean of the University of Baltimore School of Law yesterday, the first black to head that institution.
Currently associate dean of the law school at Texas Wesleyan University in Fort Worth, Holmes will take over at UB in July. He will replace John Sebert, who left last year to take a job with the American Bar Association.
"I was attracted to the University of Baltimore because it is in an urban setting," Holmes, 53, said from Fort Worth. "There is great potential there. The University of Baltimore is one of those diamonds that people don't know about."
UB President H. Mebane Turner said Holmes' 16 years practicing law before entering academia made him an attractive candidate.
"You've got to know what you're doing when you're out there in private practice," Turner said of Holmes, who taught at Southern Methodist University and Seton Hall University before going to Texas Wesleyan.
"He's at the right point to become a dean, and he is coming to a community where he will fit very nicely," Turner said.
Holmes said he is proud to be the first black in this position.
"Baltimore is an urban center, and African-Americans have been moving into leadership positions in urban centers around the country," he said. "I am privileged to be a part of that. I think it says a lot about the University of Baltimore's commitment to access and diversity."
A native of Mount Vernon, N.Y., Holmes majored in chemistry at Bucknell University before attending New York University law school. His private practice was in New York City.
"I started with five clients and $3,000 and grew to a firm of five lawyers," he said. "I loved it."
Holmes said law schools such as the one at UB fulfill an important role.