Florida International University Names U.S. Attorney Acosta as new law dean

R. Alexander Acosta, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, has been selected as dean of the FIU College of Law. Acosta, 40, will become the second dean to lead the College of Law.

“I am confident that Alex Acosta’s energy and his passion for the law and commitment to FIU and our community will take our law school to the next level,” said FIU President Modesto A. Maidique. “His connections at the national and local level and his proven leadership here at home will inspire the next generation of law students at FIU.”Dean-designate Acosta will join FIU on July 1, 2009.

“I am honored by the opportunity to take the reins of such a young and promising law school,” Acosta said. “I love this community and I am honored to now be part of the FIU family. With its world-class faculty and its outstanding students, the FIU College of Law will become one of the most respected institutions in the country. Together, we can make that happen.”

Since May 2005, Acosta has served as U.S. Attorney for one of the four largest districts in the nation, made up of 284 attorneys and encompassing nine counties, from Monroe to Highlands.

Acosta has placed particular focus on health care fraud prosecutions, hosting the first Health Care Fraud strike force in the nation, and on the prosecution of gang and gun-related violence, having seen an increase in the prosecutions in both of these areas of more than 30 percent.

Some of his high-profile cases include the prosecutions of Jack Abramoff, Palm Beach County Commission Chairman Tony Masilotti, Palm Beach County Commissioner Warren Newell, and Broward Sheriff Ken Jenne for fraud and public corruption; the prosecution of Jose Padilla; and the conviction of Cali Cartel founders Miguel and Gilberto Rodriguez-Orejuela for the importation of 200,000 kilos of cocaine, which led to a $2.1 billion forfeiture.

Prior to his appointment as U.S. Attorney, Acosta served as the Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice, the first Hispanic to serve as an assistant attorney general.

A Miami native, Acosta earned his degrees from Harvard College and Harvard Law School before clerking with Supreme Court Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr. when he served on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

Founding dean, Leonard P. Strickman, came to FIU in January 2001 as a professor and founding dean of the College of Law. Strickman will remain a member of the law faculty.

Under his stewardship, The College of Law opened its doors in August 2002 and received full accreditation by the American Bar Association in December 2006, the shortest time possible under ABA rules. Graduates have passed the Florida Bar Exam at rates exceeding the statewide pass rate and at the most recent examination, in February 2009, FIU graduates passed at the highest rate in the state of Florida.

About FIU College of Law:
The Florida International University College of Law meets an important need in the community by providing a quality, affordable legal education for South Florida residents. The student body, while principally from South Florida, is diverse in racial, ethnic, and professional background.  FIU College of Law graduates have passed the Florida Bar Exam at rates exceeding the statewide pass rate.  At the most recent examination, in July 2008, FIU graduates passed at the second highest rate when compared to graduates from all law schools in the state of Florida.

About FIU:
Florida International University was founded in 1965 and is Miami’s only public research university. With a student body of more than 38,000, FIU graduates more Hispanics than any other university in the country. Its 17 colleges and schools offer more than 200 bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral programs in fields such as engineering, international relations and law. FIU has been classified by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching as a “High Research Activity University.” In 2006 FIU was authorized to establish a medical school, which will welcome its first class in 2009. FIU’s College of Law recently received accreditation in the fastest time allowed by the American Bar Association.