Last week, we received an announcement about new leadership at an Arizona law school.

The University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law announced that Marc L. Miller had been selected as dean. It is on an interim basis while the school conducts a national search, but the UA method is that Marc is the Dean, capital “D,” no “I,” until we hear otherwise.

UA Dean Marc L. Miller

UA Dean Marc L. Miller

In its selection, the school found a dynamic, funny and smart man. And in that regard, he is similar to the man he replaces, Larry Ponoroff. Let me speak for a moment to Dean Ponoroff’s leadership time there.

As I’ve written before, deaning in this day and age is no picnic. The budget challenges are rough ones, and they are exacerbated by the (sometimes wise) hesitancy of potential applicants to plunge into an expensive three-year endeavor, whose outcome is uncertain.

In a recession, deans must make difficult and sometimes unpopular choices. Their legacy will rarely be that of those who glided through law school on the easiest of streets.

Larry Ponoroff has now returned to the ranks of the faculty, where he will reside in a well-deserved lower profile. But from this outsider’s view, his legacy is this: He was unfailingly upbeat, courteous and visionary. And, perhaps most important, he was (and is) one of the funniest leaders I’ve ever met, in law or out.

Former UA Law Dean Lawrence Ponoroff

Former UA Law Dean Lawrence Ponoroff

As law schools try to move forward in a boggy economy, there are worse things than having a sense of humor. Good luck and thank you, Dean Ponoroff.

As I opened, though, the school has chosen someone else whose wry muscle is fully developed. Besides being funny, Marc Miller is involved in more varied initiatives than a black-ops team. I have worked with Dean Miller on a few endeavors, and I am confident that the school will benefit from his vision—if it can keep up with his legal velocity.

Here is part of what the school announced about Dean Miller:

“He is the editor of two leading casebooks, one on criminal procedure and the other on the law of sentencing. He co-founded the Federal Sentencing Reporter, the leading journal on sentencing law and policy that for 20 years has focused on nurturing an ongoing conversation between scholars, judges, lawyers, probation officers, and policy-makers.”

“Dean Miller currently serves as a series editor for Summits—books focused on issues at the intersection of environmental law, science, and policy. The Summits series is a collaborative effort between the law school, the UA Institute of the Environment, the Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy, Biosphere 2 and the Biosphere 2 Institute. The first two books in the series are Conservation of Shared Spaces: Learning From the United States and Mexico, and Navigating Climate Change Policy: The Opportunities of Federalism. A third volume, Stitching the West Back Together: Conserving Working Landscapes and Biodiversity in the American West, is forthcoming. University of Arizona scholars have played the central role as editors and authors.”

You can read the school’s entire announcement here. Congratulations, Dean Miller. Break a leg.