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(2005-2008) Dean Donald J. Guter

Donald J. GuterDean Donald J. Guter earned his undergraduate degree in the ROTC program at the University of Colorado. a U.S. Navy gunnery officer and intercultural relations specialist, he studied law at Duquesne and graduated in 1977. Returning to the Navy, he steadily rose through the ranks, becoming Judge Advocate General in 2000. As the Navy’s top lawyer, he oversaw 1,800 active duty, reserve and civilian attorneys and 1,000 paralegals, while providing legal guidance to the Secretary of the Navy, Chief of Naval Operations and civilian officials.

Rear Admiral Guter retired in 2002, becoming chief executive officer of a nonprofit continuing care retirement community and executive director of the Navy-Marine-Coast Guard Residence Foundation. He became involved in Law Alumni Association activities and the opportunity to return to Duquesne appealed to him. “It’s my law school,” Guter told Juris after his appointment in 2005. “That’s the reason that I came here. If it weren’t my school, I probably would not have applied.”

Guter immediately faced several challenges. The passage rate of Duquesne law graduates on the Pennsylvania Bar exam had slipped precipitously. The problem was especially acute among evening students, whose enrollment had significantly declined and whose entering class numbered only 29 in fall 2005. 

Guter instituted curricular changes, upgraded the Legal research and Writing program and Bar exam preparatory services, and asked for increased involvement from the school’s 6,500 alumni.

Guter appointed a full-time director of Bar Services and bar passage rates rose significantly. He also recruited Professor Jan M. Levine away from Temple University as Duquesne’s first full-time legal research and writing director. 

Clinical education programs, providing students with an opportunity to work on real cases with real clients in need of services, continued to expand. Clinics in civil rights, veterans’ disability compensation, and environmental law joined existing programs in economic and community development, civil and family justice, criminal advocacy, unemployment compensation, a post-conviction DNA project and other innovative offerings. 

While outward appearances indicated progress, disagreements simmered behind the scenes between the dean and university administration and among members of the faculty. By the fall of 2008, these disputes found their way to the press and the public.

In December 2008, the university announced that Guter would be removed as Dean. He remained on the faculty for the remainder of the academic year before becoming president and dean of the South Texas College of Law. Professor Ken Gormley, a member of the Duquesne Law faculty since 1994, was appointed interim dean.