California environmental lawyer to head Vermont Law School

Debevoise Hall on the Vermont Law School campus in South Royalton. VTD/Josh Larkin

Debevoise Hall on the Vermont Law School campus in South Royalton. File photo by Josh Larkin/VTDigger

Trustees at Vermont Law School have selected an environmental lawyer from Los Angeles to be the school’s next leader.

Thomas J.P. McHenry was chosen Sunday to take over as dean and president of the South Royalton school.

McHenry is a partner in Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher and a member of the firm’s Environment and Natural Resources Practice Group. His environmental law practice focused on air quality, hazardous waste, land use and energy issues, according to the firm’s website. He is a visiting associate professor of government at Claremont McKenna College in California, where he teaches environmental law.

McHenry also taught as a member of the summer session faculty at VLS, and has taught Environmental Business Transactions and Comparative U.S./France Land Use Law since 2013.

Vermont Law School has a nationally recognized environmental law program.

McHenry will take over July 1. He succeeds Marc Mihaly, who will return to teaching at the law school. Mihaly, who has been president and dean of Vermont Law School since 2012, announced last year that he would step down at the end of the current academic year.

Board of Trustees Chair Christopher Dutton praised McHenry’s selection.

“Tom McHenry has a demonstrated commitment to environmental quality and stewardship,” said Dutton. “He has also dedicated himself to teaching at all levels even as he pursued his profession as an outstanding advocate and counselor. His enthusiasm and focus will aid Vermont Law School as we move forward from the outstanding leadership provided by Marc Mihaly.”

Mihaly said he had known McHenry for some time and “am certain that he will be an active and devoted asset to the school, continuing its spirit of innovation and its devotion to training leaders to make the world more sustainable and just. Tom and I will work together in the coming months to ensure a smooth and seamless transition.”

McHenry said Monday he was thrilled.

“I have taught at VLS over the last several summers and greatly enjoyed the students and alumni, staff and faculty, and the strong sense of community. Vermont Law School has been a pioneer in providing environmental law and policy education to JD and master’s students, as well as in training lawyers and policymakers in many other areas, for Vermont and nationally. I look forward to continuing and enhancing that great tradition,” McHenry said.

David Mears, an associate professor and vice dean at Vermont Law School and former commissioner of the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation, was a finalist for the post.

“In choosing Tom McHenry as the next dean and president of Vermont Law School, the trustees have selected a nationally regarded attorney with the skills, experience and relationships necessary to help the law school grow and thrive,” Mears said.

“He brings a demonstrated commitment to Vermont Law School’s mission to train the next generation of leaders, advocates and problem-solvers to fight for justice and to advance the rule of law in our communities and the world — a mission that has never been more important,” Mears said.

Mark Johnson

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