Thomas Mayo to Serve as Interim Dean of SMU Dedman School of Law

Thomas Mayo, a nationally recognized authority on medical ethics, award-winning law professor, and community servant, has been named interim dean of SMU’s Dedman School of Law


DALLAS (SMU) – Thomas Mayo, a nationally recognized authority on medical ethics, award-winning law professor, and community servant, has been named interim dean of SMU’s Dedman School of Law. He will serve in that capacity while a University committee conducts a national search to replace current Dean Jennifer Collins, who is leaving SMU to become president of Rhodes College in Memphis on July 1.

“With nearly forty years of distinguished service to the law school and the university, most recently as Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Professor Mayo brings a wealth of experience to this position,” said Elizabeth Loboa, SMU provost and vice president for academic affairs. “In my conversations with law school constituents this spring to inform our search for a permanent dean, Tom was a natural fit for the interim. We are fortunate and grateful for his willingness to serve.”

Mayo is senior associate dean for Academic Affairs, Altshuler Distinguished Teaching Professor and professor of law at the Dedman School of Law. In addition to his SMU positions, he is an adjunct professor in the Department of Internal Medicine at UT Southwestern Medical School and previously served as director of SMU’s Cary M. Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility . Mayo is a co-founder of the Legal Hospice of Texas , the state's first pro bono legal clinic for persons with HIV/AIDS and terminal illnesses. 

“It is, first and foremost, an honor to be asked to lead the school that has nourished and supported me academically and professionally for 38 years,” Mayo said. “This is also a moment for humility. We have a fantastically accomplished faculty, the strongest and most diverse student body ever, tremendous alumni, and a phenomenal staff. They are collectively the heart and soul of this school, and I look forward to working with them all.”

Before coming to SMU in 1984, Mayo started his career as an associate with the Rochester, New York firm of Nixon, Hargrave, Devans & Doyle (now Nixon Peabody, LLP ) after which he served as a law clerk to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. He then practiced with the Washington, D.C., firm of Covington & Burling LLP  in the areas of antitrust, securities fraud, election law, and communications.

Mayo was a member of the Council of the Health Law Section of the State Bar of Texas for 23 years and is a founding Fellow and past board member of the American Health Law Association , a Fellow in the Dallas Institute for Humanities and Culture , and a recipient of the Dallas County Medical Society’s Millard J. and Robert L. Heath Award for his contributions to medicine and leadership in Dallas County. He was elected to membership in the American Law Institute  in 2012 and was the poetry columnist for the Dallas Morning News from 1998 to 2008.

Professor Mayo has taught a broad range of subjects during his tenure at Dedman Law, ranging from business torts to election law. He currently teaches Law & Medicine: Bioethics; Law & Medicine: Health Care; Law, Literature & Medicine; Legislation & Regulation, Public Health Law & Ethics, and Torts.

Mayo has received the law school's outstanding teacher award three times, as well as the University's outstanding volunteer award for community service, President's Associate Award as the outstanding member of the tenured faculty, and the University's Altshuler Distinguished Teaching Award. He has given hundreds of public lectures on health-law-related subjects and is frequently quoted in news stories, particularly on issues related to medical ethics. 


SMU Dedman School of Law was founded in 1925. With more than 17,000 alumni from more than 80 countries, it enjoys a national and international reputation of distinction. SMU Dedman School of Law is known for its academic rigor, as well as its excellent record in preparing students to practice in prestigious law firms, major corporations, and public service organizations. The faculty excel in their public engagement efforts, groundbreaking scholarship, innovative teaching, and international impact. The law school boasts eleven legal clinics and three academic centers with programs making an impact in the community and nationwide. SMU Dedman School of Law ranks as a top law school by National Jurist/preLaw in Business Law, Criminal Law, Family Law, Intellectual Property Law, Tax Law, and Human Rights Law. It is ranked #30 by National Law Journal/ for the having the highest percentage of 2019 graduates in associate jobs and #20 for the highest percentage of 2019 graduates promoted to partner at the nation’s 100 largest law firms.  It also has one of the country’s oldest LL.M. programs for graduates of foreign law schools, a program initially launched in 1949. 

SMU is the nationally ranked global research university in the dynamic city of Dallas. SMU’s alumni, faculty, and nearly 12,000 students in eight degree-granting schools demonstrate an entrepreneurial spirit as they lead change in their professions, communities, and the world.