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Verna L. Williams Named Interim Dean of UC's College of Law

Legal scholar and award-winning faculty member Verna L. Williams has been named to serve as interim dean of UC's College of Law.

Date: 5/8/2017
By: M.B. Reilly
Phone: (513) 556-1824
Verna L. Williams, a Judge Joseph P. Kinneary Professor of Law and co-director of the Center for Race, Gender, and Social Justice, will serve as interim dean of the University of Cincinnati College of Law, effective today.

Professor Williams was appointed to her new role by Interim Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Peter E. Landgren, following the resignation today of Jennifer Bard as dean and Nippert chair of the College of Law.  

Professor Williams, who has a distinguished record of teaching, research, administration and practice, joined the University of Cincinnati College of Law more than 15 years ago, in 2001. She co-directs the university’s joint-degree program in Law and Women’s Studies, a signature program within the College of Law. Other college service has included membership on the college Academic Policy and Curriculum Committee and Dean’s Advisory Committee; chair of both the Appointments Committee and the Reappointment, Promotion and Tenure Committee; and faculty advisor to the Black Law Students Association.
Head shot of Verna Williams
Verna Williams

Teaching in the areas of family law, gender discrimination and constitutional law, she has twice been named a recipient of the college’s Goldman Prize for Excellence in Teaching. The award is student driven, since only College of Law students can nominate and select recipients based on superior teaching as well as research and public service.

Professor Williams’ research examines the intersection of race, gender and class in education law and policy. She has presented papers at numerous conferences, including meetings at the American Association of Law Schools, the Association of Law, Culture and Humanities, and the Latina/o Critical Race Theory Conference.

“Professor Williams has both depth and breadth of experience in the courtroom and the classroom. She has successfully argued before the Supreme Court and has also earned student-led teaching awards in the University of Cincinnati classroom. I very much look forward to her bringing her energy and professional background and experience to this new college leadership and community partnership role. She has already proven to be remarkable in building collaborations and providing guidance to the college during recent transitions,” stated Landgren.

With her experience and proven track record, Professor Williams will enable the college to maintain its momentum within the evolving long-term model for legal education. UC College of Law faculty, staff and students have much to be proud of, including a recent bar passage rate for UC grads of 86 percent, 15 percent above Ohio’s average; recognition as one of the top 20 law schools in the country for producing prosecutors/public defenders, according to “National Jurist” magazine; as well as a U.S. News and World Report ranking of 72 among law schools.

Prior to coming to UC, Professor Williams practiced law in the private and public sectors. She was vice president and director of educational opportunities at the National Women’s Law Center, where she focused on issues of gender equity in education. During her time at the center, Professor Williams was lead counsel and successfully argued before the United States Supreme Court a case establishing that educational institutions have a duty to respond to and address complaints regarding student-to-student sexual harassment. She also practiced at the Department of Justice and at Sidley Austin LLP, a highly regarded international business law firm.

Said Williams, “My focus for the College of Law is to work in partnership with our college and campus community as well as our dedicated alumni to further enhance the outstanding real-world opportunities we provide our students. These opportunities include our celebrated Ohio Innocence Project, our international Urban Morgan Institute for Human Rights along with programs that combine legal education with medical, business and other specialty coursework. Every student can take advantage of these opportunities because of our established track record in these efforts and our proximity to a thriving legal community.”

Professor Williams holds a Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School and a baccalaureate in Spanish from Georgetown University.