Published on: Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Two faculty members of the University St. Thomas School of Law were recently promoted to the rank of full professor.
“Virgil and Joel are two very accomplished members of our faculty,” Mengler said. “Obtaining the title of full professor means you are not only an accomplished teacher, but are recognized as a scholar on a national and international level, and have been an important contributor to the larger community.”
Professor Wiebe joined St. Thomas School of Law as an Assistant Professor in 2002 when he was hired to help found the University’s first ever Interprofessional Center for Counseling and Legal Services (IPC), where students from the schools of Law, Graduate Professional Psychology, and Social Work provide counseling and legal services to diverse and under-served populations.
Wiebe was promoted to Associate Professor in 2005 and granted tenure in 2008. He received his B.A. at Kansas State University and his Masters of Philosophy at Oxford University where he was a Rhodes Scholar. He received his J.D. at New York University School of Law and L.L.M. at Georgetown University Law Center.
Originally from western Kansas, Wiebe said that after spending time studying and working in one of the world’s largest cities Minneapolis has proven to be a great fit.
“It’s the ideal median between rural farm life and the life my wife and I had when we lived New York City,” he said.
In addition to his work for the IPC, Wiebe is noted for his scholarship related international efforts to curb the use of landmines and cluster bombs in armed conflicts.
Professor Nichols joined St. Thomas School of Law in 2007 as an associate professor. He moved with his family to the Twin Cities from Malibu, Calif. where he served four years as a member of the faculty at Pepperdine University School of Law. He received full tenure at St. Thomas during the 2008-09 academic year.
In addition to teaching contracts to first year law students, Nichols counts international human rights and international comparative family law as a few among his favorite courses. Nichols also serves as a senior fellow at the University of Emory Center for the Study of Law and Religion (his alma mater) and recently co-authored an anthology on the future of marriage and divorce jurisdiction. “Marriage and Divorce in a Multi-Cultural Society: Multi-Tiered Marriage and the Boundaries of Civil Law and Religion,” published last year by Cambridge University Press, was the culmination of a project Nichols and 18 other leading scholars from the U.S., Canada, South Africa, and the United Kingdom.
Nichols said he appreciates the ability he has at St. Thomas to achieve a healthy balance of teaching and scholarship.
"We moved here because it felt like the right fit and loved the job and that’s been true all along the way,” said Nichols, who has two school-aged children. “The recognition is nice and of course that’s part of the process, but it’s not obviously the focus here. For myself, and other members of the faculty, it’s the mission that stands out.”
Both Nichols and Wiebe have been major contributors to the mission of the law school, Dean Mengler said.
"They are just great guys, wonderful people,” Mengler said, “Two among an excellent group of faculty here at the School of Law.”