UM Law One of 45 Law Schools Recognized for Promoting Diversity

The 2013 CLEO Group at the School of Law

The 2013 CLEO Group at the School of Law

By: Allen Hamilton

OXFORD, Miss. – At a reception in September at the National Press Club in Washington D.C., the Council on Legal Education Opportunity (CLEO) recognized the University of Mississippi School of Law as one of 45 law schools named to the inaugural group of “William A. Blakey Diversity Pipeline Architects.”

“Our law school community is proud to be recognized for its contributions to promote diversity in legal education,” said Richard Gershon, dean and professor of law at the University of Mississippi School of Law.  “We are proud of our relationship with CLEO.”

CLEO celebrated their 45th anniversary this year by awarding 45 law schools, 45 individuals and 45 associations for their generous support.

“CLEO is a very proud of our 45 years of helping ‘change the face’ of the legal profession,” said Cassandra Sneed Ogden, executive director of CLEO. “We are truly excited about acknowledging our inaugural group of ‘William A. Blakey Diversity Pipeline Architects’ in the nation’s capital. Without their ongoing support, it would have been difficult to carry out the important work the organization has done since 1968.”

The award is named in honor of William A. Blakey for his work in promoting and advancing historically black colleges and universities. He dedicated his life to ensuring that all students who exhibited potential and passion have the opportunity to receive a quality education.

According to their website, CLEO was founded in 1968 to expand the opportunities for minority and low-income students. Over 8,000 students have participated in CLEO’s programs and have excelled through law school, passed the bar and begun their careers in the legal profession.

Gershon said UM Law has hosted a six week summer institute for CLEO for the past two years.  The summer institute teaches students the skills necessary to succeed in law school.  They teach topics that range from writing skills to legal reasoning.

The University of Mississippi School of Law will continue to promote diversity within the student body, faculty and staff.

“Besides our affiliation with CLEO, we have many student organizations that promote diversity,” Gershon said. “We also strive to recruit a diverse student body, as well as a diverse faculty and staff.”

Sandra Cox-McCarty, associate dean for administration and diversity initiatives at UM Law, attended the reception in D.C. to accept the award on behalf of the university.

“I left the event feeling proud that the School of Law had made some small positive contribution to those students who attended the CLEO Summer Institute in their pursuit of a legal education,” McCarty said. “There were several testimonials given by students of color about the impact that CLEO had in their lives, but more importantly the role the CLEO program had in their gaining admissions into law school.”

McCarty mentioned that a student who attended the Summer 2013 Institute at Ole Miss was at the reception.

“He expressed his thanks in attending the program and was truly appreciative of the staff and faculty.”