Thomas J. Romig, dean of the Washburn University School of Law, announced at the annual Dean’s Circle Dinner for donors that he will step down from his role as dean in June 2018 at the end of the academic year. Romig joined the Washburn School of Law in 2007 after a distinguished career with the U.S. Army and the Federal Aviation Administration. Following this year, Romig is planning to stay on at Washburn Law as a member of the faculty.
“Dean Romig has been an inspiring leader for the law school and has helped increase the reputation and visibility of the school during his tenure,” said Washburn University President Jerry Farley. “This is no small feat since the school was already a highly respected institution in the Kansas legal community when he joined the School of Law almost 11 years ago.”
Romig built on the School’s reputation, according to Farley, and used his national contacts to bring national-level courts to Topeka to hear cases. He also established three joint degree programs with other schools within Washburn and expanded the summer study abroad program to include an experience in the Caribbean, Germany, Spain, England and the Netherlands and recently signed an agreement with Osaka University in Japan for a program there.
“One of his most recent accomplishments was the establishment of an agricultural law program which has proven to be quite important,” Farley said. “This program is a vital component of the Rural Legal Practice Initiative which is a partnership with Kansas State University – an initiative aimed at addressing the dramatic shortage of lawyers in rural Kansas.”
During his tenure, Romig has built the vision for the future of the Law School’s programs and facilities, including developing the plan for a new Law School building that will meet the high standards of a 21st century legal education, according to Vice President for Academic Affairs JuliAnn Mazachek.
“Romig attracted some of the best and brightest faculty members from across the country to join Washburn Law, creating a faculty complement well positioned to serve the profession and the next generations of legal students at Washburn,” Mazachek said. Additionally Romig oversaw the development of three new Centers of Excellence with many of the initiatives and programs in the School of Law receiving national recognition.
During Romig’s tenure as dean, the Washburn University School of Law has been honored nationally for the exceptional quality of its legal writing program, practical training and trial advocacy program. Washburn Law was ranked 15th nationally in Legal Writing in U.S. News & World Report’s Best Grad Schools, 2018 edition. The National Jurist in 2017 named Washburn Law as one of the nation’s “Best Schools for Practical Training.” Washburn Law’s trial advocacy program was ranked among the top 16 law schools in the nation by preLaw magazine, winter 2017.
Mazachek noted that Romig’s leadership has made a lasting impact on Washburn Law and will be hard to replace but also realizes the reputation of Washburn Law and its alumni will attract another outstanding leader. A national search will begin this fall.
A native of Manhattan, Kan., Romig graduated from Kansas State University with a bachelor’s degree in social sciences and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in Military Intelligence through the Army R.O.T.C. program. Although he had been interested in law school, he chose to enter the U.S. Army and was assigned as a paratrooper in the 82d Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
In his fourth year of service as a military intelligence officer, he revisited his earlier interest in the law and went to the Santa Clara University School of Law through the Army Funded Legal Education Program.
Following his graduation, he became an officer in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps where he rose through the ranks to eventually become the 36th Judge Advocate General of the Army – the Army’s top military lawyer. During this time, he supervised and led and organization of more than 9,000 personnel comprised of 5,000 active and reserve military and civilian attorneys and more than 4,000 paralegal and support personnel spread throughout 328 separate legal offices in 22 countries. He oversaw a world-wide legal practice including civil and criminal litigation, criminal appellate practice international law, administrative law, labor and employment law, environmental law, claims, fiscal and procurement law, ethics compliance, legal assistance, and an independent military judiciary.
Romig retired from the Army as a Major General in 2005 and went to work as the deputy chief counsel for operations for the Federal Aviation Administration and served as acting chief counsel of the FAA while the President determined the next political appointee for that position.
Romig is admitted to the U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, the U.S. Army Court of Criminal Appeals, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, and the Supreme Court of the State of California. During his career, he received numerous awards and recognitions, including the United States Army Distinguished Service Medal, the United States Army Legion of Merit, and five United States Army Meritorious Service Medals. The Kansas Bar Association awarded Dean Romig its Courageous Attorney Award in 2009 for his time as Judge Advocate General of the Army he when he took positions against waterboarding and other extraordinary methods of interrogation that were in violation of the Geneva Conventions and the Uniform Code of Military Justice.