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John J. Farmer, Jr., Dean of Rutgers School of Law-Newark, Appointed Rutgers Senior Vice President and General Counsel

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NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – John J. Farmer Jr., dean of Rutgers School of Law-Newark since July 2009, has been appointed Rutgers’ senior vice president and general counsel, university President Robert L. Barchi announced at today’s Board of Governors meeting. The appointment is effective immediately.

Prior to joining Rutgers, Farmer had a long career in public service and private practice.  Among other positions, he served as New Jersey’s attorney general from 1999 to 2002 and as senior counsel and team leader for the National Commission on Terrorists Attacks upon the United States (commonly known as the 9/11 Commission). In that position he led the investigation of the country’s preparedness for and response to the terrorist attacks and was a principal author of the commission’s final report. His book, The Ground Truth: The Story Behind America’s Defense on 9/11, a reconsideration of the government’s 9/11 response in light of its response to Hurricane Katrina, was published by Riverhead/Penguin Press. In 2008, he served as senior adviser to Gen. James Jones, special envoy for Middle East Regional Security, on development of the rule of law in the Palestinian Authority territory and was invited by the U.S. Embassy in Armenia to assist that nation’s legislative commission in investigating widespread violence and unrest following its elections.

“I am pleased that John Farmer, our outstanding dean, will assume his new responsibilities as senior vice president and general counsel,” said President Barchi. “John’s legal expertise and deep experience at many levels of leadership will serve Rutgers well at a critical time for the university.”

“John Farmer is a well respected legal mind not only in New Jersey but also across the nation,” said Rutgers University Board of Governors Chair Ralph Izzo. “He will be a great addition to the leadership team. I am completely supportive and hope his appointment will help the university move forward at this important time.”

Farmer will serve in this position for a period of 12 to 18 months to help the Rutgers administration manage all of the significant issues that the university faces – including the impending integration of Rutgers with most of the schools and institutes that make up the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.

He began his career as a law clerk to Associate Justice Alan B. Handler of the New Jersey Supreme Court. He then worked for two years as a litigation associate at Riker, Danzig, Scherer, Hyland & Perretti LLP before joining the Office of the U.S. Attorney in Newark, where he prosecuted crimes ranging from kidnapping and arms dealing to bank fraud.

Farmer joined the administration of New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman in 1994, serving as assistant counsel, deputy chief counsel and chief counsel before becoming attorney general. As attorney general, he argued school funding and criminal justice matters before the New Jersey Supreme Court and the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, moved forward with reform of the New Jersey State Police and created the Office of Inspector General to investigate allegations of official impropriety and corruption. He also served as the first chair of the New Jersey Domestic Preparedness Task Force, leading the coordination of the state’s law enforcement and victim/witness response to the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

He was a partner in the white-collar crime and internal investigations group at K&L Gates and in 2007 became a founding partner of the law firm Arseneault, Whipple, Farmer, Fassett and Azzarello, LLP.

Farmer has received the highest peer-reviewed rating from Martindale-Hubbell and has been named a New Jersey Super Lawyer, one of New York Magazine’s Best Lawyers in the New York area and one of the Best Lawyers in America. He has been a frequent contributor to major newspapers with essays and opinion columns on legal and political issues and has had articles published in the Rutgers Law Review, Seton Hall Law Review and other journals.

A graduate of Georgetown University and the Georgetown University Law Center, Farmer is president of the board of trustees of the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, a former Commissioner with the State Commission of Investigations, and a former member of the Executive Commission on Ethical Standards and the New Jersey Governor’s Ethics Advisory Board.  He currently sits on the Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct.

President Barchi also announced that Ronald Chen, the current vice dean of the law school in Newark and the former public advocate for the State of New Jersey, will serve as acting dean at Rutgers School of Law-Newark. “Ron Chen has devoted his career to Rutgers law and to public service,” Barchi said. “His two decades of experience as a law school administrator and professor will serve the school well in this transitional period.” He noted that the acting dean is fully committed to the decision to merge the Newark law school with Rutgers School of Law-Camden and will work closely with Dean Raymon Solomon on the merger.

Chen returned to Rutgers School of Law-Newark in 2010 after serving for four years as the first public advocate of New Jersey in 13 years when the Department of the Public Advocate was restored in 2006. As a member of the governor’s cabinet, he was charged with providing advocacy for a number of specific constituencies, including elder citizens, persons with disabilities, mental health services’ consumers and ratepayers, and was generally given standing to represent the public interest in legal proceedings.

Established in 1766, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, is America’s eighth oldest institution of higher learning and one of the nation’s premier public research universities. Serving nearly 60,000 students on campuses in Camden, Newark and New Brunswick, Rutgers is one of only two New Jersey institutions represented in the prestigious Association of American Universities.

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