Scott Brown, the Wrentham selectman turned state representative turned state senator turned US senator turned US ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa, will have a new title at the end of next year: law school dean.
Brown and New England Law Boston announced Friday that Brown will become president and dean of the law school in December 2020 after completing his time as ambassador.
“It’s an exciting opportunity, something new and interesting,” he said in a telephone interview from New Zealand, where he’s been the top American diplomat since 2017. “I was a law student. I was a solo practitioner. I’ve been in JAG (judge advocate general). I’ve written laws as state rep, state senator, US senator.”
Brown, 60, said he is looking forward to working collaboratively with faculty, staff, and students. He said he is also excited for the public-facing part of the job, from fund-raising to boosting the profile of the downtown Boston school in the region and beyond.
He lauded New England Law for its “very diverse student body, good endowment, good placement within the Boston area.”
In a letter to the school community, the chairman of its board of trustees said that Brown has the “management and development skills” to successfully lead an independent law school.
The law school was founded in 1908 for the education of women, went co-ed 30 years later, and took on its current name in 2008. It has about 725 full- and part-time students.
The ambassador acknowledged that the academic role will mark a new chapter in his unique life story.
A longtime Republican state legislator in chambers controlled by Democrats, Brown won an upset victory for US Senate over Democrat Martha Coakley in 2010, but lost his 2012 reelection bid to Elizabeth Warren.
He worked for powerhouse law firm Nixon Peabody LLP for several months as he made frequent visits to New Hampshire.
Eventually, Brown and his wife, former WCVB-TV broadcaster Gail Huff, moved to their vacation home in Rye, N.H., and Brown ran unsuccessfully for Senate in 2014 against incumbent US Senator Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire.
Four years ago, Brown began hosting backyard barbecues with the GOP candidates running for president. He was wowed by Trump, whom he would endorse a week before the 2016 New Hampshire primary.
After Trump’s victory, Brown met with the president-elect at Trump Tower in New York and told reporters he thought he was the “best person” to be Trump’s secretary of veterans affairs. The president picked someone else.
But another opportunity called: diplomat.
In June 2017, Brown was confirmed by the Senate as US ambassador to New Zealand and the Independent State of Samoa. The vote was 94 to 4.
In the interview, Brown emphasized he loves being a diplomat, loves New Zealand, and will continue to represent the United States there through late 2020.
He also said the gig has expanded his skillset.
“This job has made me a better person, a better listener, more diplomatic,” he said.
The biggest crisis during his tenure there was the March terrorist attack at two mosques that killed 51 people. At the time, he decried the “horrific and cowardly” shootings.
But much of his time as ambassador has not been under duress. He’s traveled the country, glad-handing mayors and their constituents, introducing himself to chambers of commerce, connecting with Kiwis over rock music and rugby, and working to parry their considerable concerns about President Trump.
As a Republican taking the helm of a school in the heart of Boston, Brown expressed hope that his new community at New England Law would give him a fair shot when he starts more than a year from now.
“I’ll certainly meet with every employee, every faculty member,” he said, adding he’ll work to figure out “What’s the vision? What do we need to succeed? How can we get to consensus?”
School president John O’Brien, who had served as dean since 1988, handed over those duties to an interim dean this academic year. He’ll stay on as president until Brown arrives.
The two top Republicans in Massachusetts, Governor Charlie Baker and Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito, a New England Law grad, had kind words about the news.
“New England Law Boston helped prepare me as a lawyer and for a career in public service, and I’m grateful and honored that Ambassador Brown has been named as the incoming dean and president,” said Polito.
Baker said he looks forward to welcoming Brown back to the Bay State next year.
“Scott’s known to bring a lot of passion and determination to his work and as the incoming president and dean, I’m confident he’ll put his all into supporting the talented law students, faculty, and alumni and to advance the vision of the school,” the governor said.
When they come back to the United States, Brown said he and Huff will live in New Hampshire. He said he looks forward to being closer to their two daughters, Ayla Brown and Arianna Brown Hendry.
Brown declined to answer a question about the House of Representatives’ impeachment inquiry, and said he didn’t have any insight into what his former colleagues in the Senate might do, should there be an impeachment trial.
“I just got back from Bangkok,” he said, underscoring his focus was on his diplomatic role, not politics 8,800 miles away in Washington, D.C.
Brown remains a fitness buff. He competed in the world triathlon championships in Geneva over the summer. He said in the interview that he competes in triathalons because the people he meets are great and it helps keep him disciplined.
“It forces me to say, ‘No, I’m not having that pepperoni, I’ll have the cheese.’ ”