In Update we are profiling the deans of our colleges and schools. In this issue, we
feature Peter V. Letsou, dean of the Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law.
Peter V. Letsou
Why did you choose to come to the U of M?
Memphis Law is exceptionally well positioned for the future. It has a spectacular
facility, an outstanding urban location, and is part of a great public metropolitan
research university. This combination of factors uniquely positions Memphis Law to
create a school that will be a leader both regionally and nationally. It’s exciting
to part of an institution with a distinguished past and such promise and potential
for the future.
What life lessons do you try to instill in students?
I encourage students to remain open to new challenges and opportunities. Life (and
lawyering) is a moving target and extremely rewarding opportunities can come from
unexpected places at unexpected times.
What do you enjoy most about being dean?
The ability to play a significant role in guiding an institution with such a bright
future, as well as helping to reshape the program of legal education at what is clearly
a crossroads for the nation’s law schools.
What is the most challenging part of your position?
This is a particularly challenging time for the nation’s law schools, but – while
it may be a cliché – great challenges create great opportunities.
What is your impression of Memphis (the city) so far?
I hadn’t spent any time in Memphis before visiting last winter. I liked it when I
visited, but I love it now that we’re here. Great food and music, welcoming and gracious
people, attractive and convenient neighborhoods, and a short and easy commute that
just can’t be beat after spending 11 years traveling 90 miles per day round trip.
Memphis is a unique and fascinating city and a great place to live and work. I’ve
even enjoyed the heat after a decade of Oregon clouds and rain, but I’m told I got
off easy this summer.
Are there any hobbies you have time to enjoy?
I love outdoor activities. Boating is a passion when there’s time. But closer to home,
I enjoy working in the yard and walking the city. And I expect I’ll be buying a bike. I
also enjoy tinkering with gadgets of all kinds.
Tell us about your family
My wife, Felicity, is an elementary and middle school teacher; she’s planning to substitute
teach this year, but will be focusing on more permanent options as we get settled. We
have three children, William, 24, who is working towards a PhD in chemistry at Cal
Tech; Tina, 21, who is studying mathematics and economics at Northwestern University;
and Ted, 15, who is an 11th grade student at Lausanne Collegiate School (and a terrific