Hitting a ‘Durand Slam’

Retired dean reflects on quarter-century of service to Boyd Law

Retired Associate Dean Frank Durand
Retired Associate Dean Frank Durand

By Pat McDonnell

Frank Durand emphasizes that academic law professionals tend to develop a positive culture at work when they make the most of the tools and wisdom they have acquired.

Only now, a year into retirement after almost 24 years at the William S. Boyd School of Law at UNLV, is it easier for him to fully gather that wisdom and see all the collective progress he and his colleagues made since August 1998, when 142 students comprised the school’s charter class.

“It’s difficult to chart a path in life if you travel a straight line,” says Durand, who retired as Boyd Law’s associate dean for student affairs on Nov. 2, 2021. “It’s the twists and the turns and off-roading experiences that help you find your direction. There are no irrevocable wrong turns as long as you are trying to find the right way.”

That metaphorical dusty desert path to a fully realized law school unique to Nevada was set at the former Paradise Elementary School, across Tropicana Avenue from the UNLV campus. Durand knew even then a solid foundation was in place. He had just been hired away from George Washington University’s law school as Boyd Law’s first assistant dean for admissions and financial aid.

“The foundation of Boyd tells me that it will endure and thrive,” he says. “I know the good work that so many people did to ensure the law school’s integrity.”

Durand credits the law school’s founders—Dick Morgan, Christine Smith, Rick Brown, Mary Berkheiser, and Dianne Fouret—for not fearing failure at the school’s inception. He looks back to his own days as a student at Stanford Law School, where success, for him, was not inscribed in stone.

“My experience in law school felt like a failure at times because I was investing in something that I wasn’t sure was right for me,” he says. “But as I reflected upon it, it turned out to be the right path for me. So many significant things happen in life when you’re not on the ‘correct road.’”

That path, for Durand, leads straight into the future with the Dean Frank D. Durand Scholarship. The endowed fund targets first-generation law students and those who are active in promoting community and inclusiveness, both at Boyd Law and in the Las Vegas region. At the end of September 2022, scholarship donations had netted almost $42,000.

The scholarship is another testament to team building, and that concept excites Durand as he and his wife, Veronica, have begun a new chapter of their lives in Rapid City, South Dakota. He was touched that friends at Boyd Law renamed the school’s Spring Fling social event the “Durand Slam” in his honor. The softball tournament is typically held annually on campus in March or April.

“I dearly love it,” he professes. “I’m honored to have it named for me. If there’s one thing I miss, it’s Spring Fling. I loved the friendly competition among students, alums, staff, and faculty. It was just a ton of fun.”