The University of Mississippi School of Law is committed to providing an educational environment that reflects the broader society and its varied perspectives, people and principles. The Law School strives to promote diversity among its faculty, staff and student body through its academic and extracurricular programming, which is reflective of the Law School and University’s overall philosophy found in its Creed.
The University of Mississippi School of Law supports the University’s commitment to inclusion, diversity, and academic freedom. The Law School shares a deep commitment to these values as part of the University community, welcoming persons regardless of race, color, gender, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, religion, national origin, age disability, veteran status, or genetic information. (The University’s nondiscrimination policy can be found here.)
We work diligently to foster a community of inclusion, an atmosphere of open, reflective, and respectful debate, and a home where all feel welcomed.
Dean of the Law School
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From 2016 to 2020, we saw an overall increase of 32% in applications from students of color. We saw an overall increase of 58% in enrollment of students of color. The COVID-19 pandemic affected the 2019-20 law school admissions cycle in many different ways. Unfortunately, our steady growth in diversity enrollment slowed last year, as did other law schools. However, our progress on our diversity goals this year is exceptional, and we are seeing dramatic increases in applications from all races and ethnicities.
2020 Strategic Plan for Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity
DEI Strategic Plan Progress Updates
- Associate Dean for Faculty Development Stacey Lantagne has worked with the Chair of the Diversity Committee Professor Larry Pittman to develop a pilot program that increases classroom engagement with diversity, inclusion, equity, and cultural competence. The pilot program focuses on volunteer professors, who will investigate best practices for incorporating issues of race, gender, and other DEI topics into their classes. Seven faculty members have agreed to participate as of January 2021. The program will survey students at the beginning of the semester, provide ongoing opportunities for support and feedback for the faculty participating throughout the semester, and receive final feedback from the students’ experiences toward the end of the semester. The program also proposes a workshop open to all faculty at which the initial volunteers will share their tips in an interactive setting that will encourage further thinking on how to effectively increase classroom engagement with diversity, inclusion, equity, and cultural competence across a wide spectrum of classes. Kris Gilliland, Director of the UM Law Library, has provided resources to fund five research assistants for the program.
- Assistant Dean for Student Affairs Brittany Barbee is working with the Office for Diversity and Community Engagement to develop mandatory implicit bias and professionalism training for all law student organizations that require a selection process for membership. This training will take place annually, with the first one set to take place in February 2021.
- Assistant Dean for Student Affairs Brittany Barbee is working with the current president of OUTLaw to get gender-inclusive signage on single-stall restrooms in the law school and to discuss a trans-inclusive policy for law students.
- Associate Dean for Faculty Development Stacey Lantagne is structuring monthly discussion groups for students, faculty and staff that will focus on a variety of diversity, inclusion, equity, and cultural competence issues.
- The Center for Air and Space Law hosted an Aerospace Diversity Policy and Research Forum along with the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency.
- The SBA is preparing an “All Faces for All Spaces” speaker series of law students willing to express their experiences at the law school and in the community regarding their diverse identities. The All Faces campaign is to be under the direction of the ICCE Committee and is intended to coincide with the student org reform plan that will require attendance of a percentage of a group’s membership at DEI-specific events.
- The UM Office of the Chancellor released its comprehensive Pathways to Equity plan.
- Beginning February 1, UM Law encouraged all faculty, staff and students to participate in the 21-Day Racial Equity Habit-Building Challenge. Each day, the entire law school community are sent links to articles, podcasts, and other content. The challenge will culminate with a discussion on February 24.
- Day 1:
- Nikole Hannah-Jones, America Wasn’t a Democracy, Until Black Americans Made It One, The New York Times (Aug. 14, 2019)
- Day 2:
- How to Not (Accidentally) Raise a Racist, Longest Shortest Time Podcast
- Day 3:
- Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Case for Reparations, The Atlantic (May 21, 2014)
- Day 4:
- Danielle Cadet, Your Black Colleagues May Look Like They Are Okay – Chances Are They Are Not (May 2020)
- Katy Waldman, A Sociologist Examines The “White Fragility” That Prevents White Americans From Confronting Racism, New Yorker (July 23, 2018)
- Day 5:
- Megan Ming Francis, Let’s get to the root of racial injustice, TEDTalks (March 21, 2016)
- Day 6: Saturday, February 6
- Janice Gassam, Your Unconscious Bias Trainings Keep Failing Because You’re Not Addressing Systemic Bias (Forbes, Dec. 29, 2019)
- Day 7:
- James McWilliams, Bryan Stevenson On What Well Meaning White People Need To Know About Race: An interview with Harvard University-trained public defense lawyer Bryan Stevenson on racial trauma, segregation, and listening to marginalized voices, Pacific Standard (updated Feb 18, 2019)
- Day 8:
- Kristen Rogers, Dear anti-racist allies: Here’s how to respond to microaggressions, CNN
- Ali Vingiano, 63 Black Harvard Students Share Their Experiences In A Powerful Photo Project, BuzzFeed (March 3, 2014)
- Day 9:
- Jolie A. Doggett, 4 Questions About Hair that Black Girls Are Tired of Answering, HuffPost (Feb. 14, 2020)
- Jessica Moulite, Exclusive: Rep. Ayanna Pressley Reveals Beautiful Bald Head and Discusses Alopecia for the First Time, The Root (Jan. 16, 2020)
- Hair Love, Oscar®-Winning Short Film (Full), Sony Pictures Animation, YouTube (Dec. 5, 2019)
- Day 10:
- Karma Allen, More than 50% of homeless families are black, government report finds, ABCNews (Jan. 22, 2020)
- Scott Winship, Richard V. Reeves, and Katherine Guyot, The Inheritance of Black Poverty: It’s All About the Men, Brookings (March 22, 2018)
- Day 11:
- Day 12:
- “The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture today launched Talking About Race, a new online portal designed to help individuals, families, and communities talk about racism, racial identity and the way these forces shape every aspect of society, from the economy and politics to the broader American culture.”
- Day 13:
- National Conference for Community and Justice, Colorism
- Natasha S. Alford, Why Some Black Puerto Ricans Choose ‘White’ on the Census: The island has a long history of encouraging residents to identify as white, but there are growing efforts to raise awareness about racism, The New York Times (Feb. 9, 2020)
- Day 14:
- Hannah Giorgis, Black Art is dangerous because it marries the personal and the political, The Guardian (Feb. 22, 2015)
- Reggie Ugwu, Lena Waitheʼs Art of Protest: The “Queen & Slim” writer on mixing art and politics, the key to collaboration and those infamous comments about Will Smith and Denzel Washington, The New York Times (Dec. 2, 2019)
- Bryan Stevenson ’85, “We can’t recover from this history until we deal with it.” legacy of slavery and the vision for creating the National Memorial for Peace and Justice and The Legacy Museum, Harvard Law School YouTube (Jan 30, 2019)
- Day 15:
- Carlos Sandoval and Peter Miller, A Class Apart, PBS American Experience Films (February 23, 2009)
- Day 16:
- Perspectives in Poetry:
- Perspectives on Change:
- Day 17:
- Peggy McIntosh, Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack of White Privilege
- Day 18:
- Verna Myers, How to Overcome Our Biases? Walk Boldly Toward Them, TED Talk
- Day 19:
- George Johnson, White gay privilege exists all year, but it is particularly hurtful during Pride, NBC News (June 30, 2019)
- Laverne Cox Talks about Intersectionality at Harvard (March 11, 2014)
- D-L Stewart, Black Trans* Lives Matter (TEDxTalks) (April 22, 2019)
- Day 20:
- Sam Dylan Finch, 9 Phrases Allies Can Say When Called Out Instead of Getting Defensive, Everyday Feminism (May 29, 2017)
- Day 1:
- UM Law hosted a book club for Ibram Kendi’s How to Be an Antiracist for faculty, staff and students. All participants were divided into small groups to have meaningful discussions about racial justice and the book via Zoom during four meetings in July and August.
- In the Fall 2020 semester, UM Law presented a diverse panel on voting rights issues. UM Law also co-sponsored a talk by journalist and educator Jelani Cobb on racial issues in the justice system.
- UM Law hosted a Post-Election Student Forum, where a panel of three public servants – Justice Randy Pierce, Justice Jess Dickinson, and Senator Barbara Blackmon – who hold diverse backgrounds and political beliefs discussed the ramifications of the presidential election. Students were encouraged to ask questions and engage in dialogue at the end of the presentation.
- Faculty members participated in SEC dialogues to discuss how to infuse race in 1L classes with other SEC law professors.
- UM Law joined the ABA Legal Education Police Practices Consortium in the Fall of 2020. The Consortium will contribute to the national effort to examine and address legal issues in policing public safety, including conduct, oversight, and the evolving nature of police work. The goal of the Consortium is to advance improved police practices at all levels of government.
- The Student Bar Association (SBA) added a Director of Inclusion and Cross-Cultural Engagement (ICCE) to the President’s Cabinet. The role of this Director is “to assemble a diverse committee of law school stakeholders to meet and discuss the current climate of the law school and brainstorm ways to implement Section 3.3 of the school’s diversity plan. This committee is comprised of leaders from all minority advocacy groups and meets regularly to present ideas and proposals to the SBA President to then be considered for action. The Director maintains a list of all representative student group events and directs fellow groups to attend and co-mingle.
- The SBA added a Director of Community Engagement position to the SBA Cabinet to direct community resources –on and off campus –to causes sponsored or supported by representative student groups.
- The Entertainment and Sports Law Society and Latin Law Students Association hosted the LatinX Experience Series in Entertainment, Sports, and Business. The “Fire-Side” chat series focused on challenges facing minorities and how to have difficult conversations transcending into impactful conversations and meaningful changes within an organization. The executives included Francisco Rivera of NBCUniversal- Telemundo (VP of Distribution and Strategic Content), Miguel Ramos of The Minnesota Twins (Senior Director of Diversity Inclusion) and Merary Simeon of Pepsi – Latin America (Vice President of Latin Affairs – PepsiCo).
- The Entertainment and Sports Law Society also hosted the GLO Sports and Entertainment Digital Summit and InfluenceHER Speaker Series. The catalyst for establishing the GLO Sports and Entertainment Digital Summit | InfluenceHER Speaker Series derived from wanting to create nationwide relationships with varying corporations, highlight the diverse talent pool within the law school, and change the national narrative surrounding the State of Mississippi. The digital summit featured C-Level executives from the National Football League (NFL), Major League Baseball (MLB), the San Francisco 49ers, Minnesota Vikings, Minnesota Twins, Kansas City Royals, Akerman LLP, and AT&T. The InfluenceHER Speaker Series featured the Women of Major League Baseball and a panel discussion titled “Skillfully Crafted For The Race.”
- OUTLaw hosted Virtual Happy Hours every other Friday during the Fall semester, continuing through the Spring, in order to foster a safe, yet relatively unstructured environment for LGBTQ identified individuals as well as any allies to get together for community development.
- OUTLaw Virtual Brown Bag Events are held on opposite weeks as the Happy Hours, and are more structured times when we invite guest speakers to present their areas of interest. Fall speakers included attorneys Alysson Mills and Kristen Amond, Judge Arenda Allen, and ACLU Michigan Attorney Jay Kaplan.
- The Medgar Evers Scholarship: Professor John R. Bradley has challenged the law school community to donate $100,000 to the Medgar Evers Scholarship and he will match it dollar for dollar. The Medgar Evers Scholarship is awarded each year with preference given to students that attended a Mississippi HBCU.
- UM law partnered with Tougaloo College for the Pathway to Law School and Beyond Initiative. The continued partnership that began in 2018 provides a framework for the two institutions to develop strategies and projects with the goal of increasing enrollment of Tougaloo graduates at the UM School of Law.
- During the Fall 2020 New Student Orientation, we held a session called Creating True Community and Equity at UM Law. Professors Yvette Butler and Cliff Johnson led this discussion which revolved around the importance of valuing diversity, equity, and inclusion both within the law school community and as a soon-to-be practicing attorney.