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WVU reappoints Dean McConnell

MORGANTOWN, W.Va.—West Virginia University has reappointed Joyce E. McConnell as Dean of the College of Law for another five years.

“Joyce McConnell is commended for an excellent first term as dean,” said Michele G. Wheatly, WVU Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. “Under her leadership, the future of the College of Law is very bright.”

Since being named Dean in 2008, McConnell has spearheaded a $25 million fundraising campaign to invest in the future of legal education at WVU. This includes the construction of a 20,000-square-foot addition to the law school as well as improvements to teaching facilities, resources, and technology.

In 2011, McConnell established the Center for Energy and Sustainable Development, which is playing a prominent role in shaping the energy and environmental policies of the future. She also oversaw the creation of the Land Use and Sustainable Development Law Clinic, which is working in a dozen West Virginia communities.

In her first term as Dean, McConnell founded the law school’s Entrepreneurship and Innovation Law Clinic, and reinvigorated the Center for Law and Public Service and the West Virginia Innocence Project. McConnell’s emphasis on a law curriculum that develops practice-ready skills helped WVU Law earn the 2012 Excellence in Pro Bono Award from the rating agency Super Lawyers.

Throughout her tenure as dean, McConnell has sought to increase WVU Law’s national prominence. Results of this effort include high rankings by U.S. News & World Report, preLaw Magazine, and The National Law Journal, among other publications.

Richardson: SCOTUS Koontz Decision Affirms Sound Land Use Planning

Amidst DOMA, Fisher, and Shelby this summer, the U.S. Supreme Court decided an important land use case that did not quite get the same national attention: Coy A. Koontz v. St. Johns River Water Management District.

In a 5-4 decision, the Court ruled in favor of Koontz, a Florida property developer, in what some legal scholars see as blow to sustainable development. 

WVU Law land use attorney Jesse Richardson, however, sees Koontz as an affirmation of sound land use planning practices.

In the case, Koontz sought a permit to develop a portion of land and place a conversation easement on several additional acres. Much of the Koontz property includes wet lands. St. Johns countered with two alternative options conditional to granting a permit. Koontz did not agree to either option.

“The Koontz ruling merely confirms the Nollan/Dolan test and holds that its principles of proportionality and rationality also apply to cash exactions,” said Richardson.

The so-called Nollan/Dolan Test is based on two precedent-setting cases—Nollan v. California Coastal Commission in 1987 and Dolan v. City of Tigard in 1994. In both, it was found that the local governments had attached irrational and disproportionate conditions to granting land use permits.

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