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Jax Daily Record Monday, Jun. 8, 201512:00 PM EST

New dean wants to move FCSL into next century

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by: David Chapman

While a lot of people talk about bringing their businesses, schools or government to a 21st century-level, Scott DeVito is looking ahead.

He wants to turn Florida Coastal School of Law into what he calls a “22nd century law school.”

The Florida Coastal professor will have a greater ability to do so as the for-profit law school’s next dean, a move the school announced Friday.

He was selected among 47 candidates in a nationwide search, one that ultimately concluded the best candidate already was within the ranks of the school’s professors.

“Being at Florida Coastal and seeing all the great work, I wanted to be a part of that,” DeVito said in an interview Saturday. “I love the students and this institution.”

Moving toward the next century, he said, partly means making it less expensive for students. Making it easier for a student in California to receive the same standard of learning a student on the Southside campus receives.

That means utilizing — and investing in — more technology and Internet-based learning. DeVito, 50, already has been a part of that as chair of the school’s Innovation Committee and through a lead role in its strategic planning process.

Part of his work on the committee meant redesigning how preparations for national professional responsibility exams are taught. Changes, he said, that have meant 85-90 percent of students pass the test on the first attempt — a “ridiculously high level,” he said.

It’s those small changes, he said, that will help Florida Coastal be a better school for both students and faculty.

In five years’ time, he said, people from other schools will see Florida Coastal as cutting edge. They’ll wonder why they didn’t make those changes, too.

“We’re going to have to build more on the parking garage because people will want to go here,” he said.

He succeeds Peter Goplerud, who stepped down two years ago to serve as president of the Infilaw management services company — a consortium that runs Florida Coastal. Since then, Chidi Ogene served as interim, before taking the job as president of the Charlotte School of Law.

In a statement, Florida Coastal President Dennis Stone said DeVito’s “leadership and vision for the school is consistent with our mission of inclusive excellence and market-leading practice preparation.”

At the school since 2008, DeVito teachings have focused on commercial law and quantitative empirical logic research.

His role as dean begins Aug. 1.

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