The University of Akron will have new deans leading two of its five colleges, one an unconventional selection and the other a historic one.
Emily Janowski-Helen has been appointed dean of the University of Akron School of Law, effective February 21, pending approval by the Board of Trustees. She will be the first woman to permanently hold the position of Dean of the Law School.
Also awaiting approval from the trustee, Robert J.
Janowski-Helen and Nimer are two of three deans appointed since the university’s merger of 11 colleges into five in 2020. Mitchell S. McKinney was appointed dean of the Buchtel College of Arts and Sciences in January 2021.
Janowski-Helen has been at the university since 2017, and currently serves as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Law Technology Programs, as well as Director of the Law Library.
Two other women served as temporary dean of the law school, but Janowski-Helen will be the first woman to be appointed to this position permanently in its 100-year history.
“I’m very proud of that,” she said. “And I am very excited about the support I have received from the law community at the University of Akron, from the alumni.”
Janowski-Helen studied history and chemistry as an undergraduate before enrolling in law school. Her research has focused on social media law, internet privacy, legal research education strategies, and technology in law practice.
Through the pandemic, Helen Janowski said she has watched legal education change in ways that could be scalable in the future, including focusing more on technology, her area of expertise.
“We are more flexible,” she said. “It’s more affordable. It’s data-optimized. It’s results-driven.”
Helen Janowski said she is also committed to pushing for more diversity among law students and faculty, but beyond that, for more cultural education.
“I don’t think it’s just a matter of, that you bring in a variety of students, and then it’s all great, right?” She said. “We need some education, not just for our students while they are in law school, but when they graduate, because their clients will be from diverse backgrounds.”
She is also excited about partnering with Nimr, given his legal education and professional background in the business world.
“We need to think about those skills that we haven’t studied in the past, like collaboration, empathy, client management, customer service, cultural awareness, just the things that aren’t part of traditional legal education,” she said. “And I think having someone’s point of view from the business world would be incredibly helpful to add that to our curriculum.”
Nimer, a Walsh Jesuit High School alumnus, earned his undergraduate business and law degrees from Akron, the latter in 1995. He worked as a property tax attorney before transitioning into the professional sports world in 1998, when he started his own sports agency. He sold the company to William Morris Endeavor/IMG in 2015 and assumed global leadership for the company’s IMG Golf brand.
Right before the pandemic, Nimr took the step of becoming the chief marketing officer for MAI Capital Management in Cleveland.
He said he had always wanted to teach. When he heard about the open position of brigadier general, he thought it was worth throwing his name into the hat. Nimr previously taught as an assistant at Akron in the spring of 2010 and fall of 2011, but has not otherwise served on a university or faculty.
“Sure, I’m funky,” said Nimr. He noted that he had never evaluated a professor for the position, or conducted the kind of research a professor would do. But he said it’s not an unnatural part of his career as an entrepreneur.
“The business school is a business,” Nimr said. “It’s about producing a superior project, it’s about producing a well-equipped young man to go out into the world, and then it’s about sending those success story messages and being a champion in terms of your success stories.”
Nimr said he sees Akron as a place where students can receive individual attention and have all their needs met to produce a good graduate.
“The product is exceptional at Akron U,” he said. “Let’s spread this message not only in Northeast Ohio but nationally and globally, let’s share our success stories and let’s keep our local talent, our local young students here to go to school. Then let’s keep them here to advance their careers. This is something I’ve always been excited about” .
Contact education reporter Jennifer Pinolet at firstname.lastname@example.org, at 330-996-3216 or on Twitter @JenPignolet.