Mitchell Hamline School of Law’s board of trustees named a California law school leader and LGBT advocate as its newest president and dean.

Anthony S. Niedwiecki, dean and professor of law at Golden Gate University School of Law since July 2017, will begin leading Mitchell Hamline on July 1.

His focus on experiential learning and online instruction was part of what made him stand out among the four finalists interviewed in December, said Doug Belden, a spokesman for Mitchell Hamline.

Niedwiecki has spent 25 years working in law. A Michigan native and first-generation college student, he was educated at Tulane Law School in New Orleans and Temple University Beasley School of Law in Philadelphia.

Niedwiecki started his career as an associate at two firms in Texas before moving into legal education in 1998. He was on the law school faculties at Temple and Arizona State University and held positions at colleges in Florida and Illinois.

In 2007, Niedwiecki founded Fight OUT Loud, an LGBT advocacy group, where he continues to serve as vice president. He has received numerous awards for LGBT advocacy.

Niedwiecki will be the second president and dean of the five-year-old college, which was established in 2015 after William Mitchell College of Law and Hamline University School of Law combined.

Mitchell-Hamline is one of the largest law schools in the area with about 1,200 students and 40 full-time faculty members.

Mark C. Gordon oversaw the merging of the schools as president and dean from 2015 until last year, when he stepped down from his role and took a one-year sabbatical to study issues of disadvantaged youth and higher education. He remains on the faculty as a tenured professor.

Peter B. Knapp has acted as the interim president and dean and will return to the faculty in July.

“Making sure that a law school is grounded in the community is really important to me. In every school I’ve ever been at, that’s got to be a part of the main mission,” Niedwiecki said in an interview Tuesday. “That’s really … a part of the mission for Mitchell Hamline and a big part of why I’m drawn there.”

 

J.D. Duggan (j.d.duggan@startribune.com) is a University of Minnesota student on assignment for the Star Tribune.