School of law dean to step down at the end of year

BRISTOL, R.I – Michael Yelnosky, dean of the law school for the past five years, is stepping down from his deanship when his contract expires at the end of the year. He will stay on as faculty. 

Yelnosky has been at the Roger Williams University School of Law since its creation 27 years ago. 

“I had decided that six years was a good run,” he said. “Law schools are in a very dynamic period, so I think a change of leadership on some regular basis is important for a law school to maintain momentum.” 

During his time at the helm, the law school has opened an experiential learning campus in Providence and started the Rhode Island Center for Justice, which provides free legal assistance to people in the community.

One of his favorite experiences and most notable moments of his tenure, was the visit by Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg in 2018

“That was very, very special,” he said

Some of his most important achievements “include navigating rapidly changing landscape education in the United States while simultaneously maintaining quality of instruction and retaining top flight faculty, and a high quality student body,” according to Chief Judge William Smith of the U.S District Court of Rhode Island. Judge Smith is also Chair of the RWU Law School Board of Directors.

“One of the most important parts of Michael’s legacy is that he navigated the school through troubling times successfully and we came out stronger on the other end,” he said.

In a release from the University, President Miaoulis referenced Yelnosky’s contributions to the school:

“Michael Yelnosky has led RWU Law with distinction during his tenure, achieving success in graduating engaged, civic-minded lawyers and significantly expanding access to legal education to a more diverse population.” 

Miaoulis added that he is grateful Yelnosky is staying on as faculty. 

“It’s been a real privilege to be here and see it from literally a hole in the ground, to being able to try to do what I could during this six-year period,” Yelnosky said. “It seemed like the right time and I’m optimistic that we’ll get a great new dean.”