The Law School Magazine  ·  Spring 2012 : Dean's Letter

Diversity in the law

Print | Email

There are many marks of a great learning community, including outstanding teaching, creative faculty scholarship, and support for talented students. Diversity is also an essential part of a great educational institution.

In an academic year with many highlights, one of our brightest days came in early May when we received word that the OutLaws, Moritz’s student association that promotes understanding of legal issues that affect the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered communities, won the University’s Distinguished Diversity Enhancement Award. This award caps the third year in a row that the College has been recognized as one of only four annual honorees in the University (Professors Kathy Northern and Vincene Verdun won in 2010 and 2011, respectively).

Diversity and inclusion are particularly relevant to our profession. Lawyers protect rights, help reform systems, and provide leadership for society. One of the best examples of Moritz’s contributions to diverse leadership in contemporary American politics is Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval ’89. He was elected in 2010 as the first Latino governor of Nevada. We are privileged to count Gov. Sandoval among our alumni and to have had him visit the law school as part of our Program on Law and Leadership (see article on page 32).

While our first African-American graduate earned his law degree in 1912 (and his great grandson graduated in 2012, read more on page 22), there is, of course, more work to be done. I recently had the honor to work with a group of faculty, staff, and student leaders as part of a University-wide taskforce formed in response to some racist acts of vandalism on and around the campus. The “No Place for Hate” taskforce made recommendations on issues of awareness, cli­mate, and recruitment and retention to strengthen our campus community and to help us heal.

In Drinko Hall, we’re doing our part. For instance, the Office of Minority Affairs was recently renamed the Office of Diversity and Inclusion to better serve our current students. (For more detail see page 21.) Professor Sharon Davies assumed the directorship of the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity (see page 16), a leading academic research center focused on race. We’re also partnering with other institutions and programs to expand the pipeline of future law students. For the fifth summer in a row, Moritz will host high school students from the Columbus Public Schools system for five weeks in partnership with the Law and Leader­ship Institute (LLI), now a separately incorporated state-wide nonprofit organization, providing academic programming to students with an interest in law. The students who began in the pilot program founded at Moritz in 2008 are now graduating high school and off to college at George­town, Howard, Otterbein, and, of course, Ohio State, among other universities.

Diversity at Moritz is not a talking point in a brochure; it is something we all live and benefit from each and every day. Moritz is a great law school that is part of a great university. And much of our strength is drawn from our embrace of diversity.


Alan C. Michaels

Dean and Edwin M. Cooperman Professor of Law