Diversity at KU Law
KU Law values diversity in its student body and believes that the intentional creation of a diverse learning environment is essential to achieving the university's educational mission. The university fosters a multicultural environment in which the dignity and rights of the individual are respected. The law school's Faculty and Staff Committee on Diversity & Inclusion, its alumni Diversity Advisory Council, its Dean’s Diversity Leadership Council and its diverse student organizations help support diversity through workshops, presentations, awareness exercises and social events.
To build a diverse community, the university considers, in addition to academic credentials, the following criteria for student admission decisions, scholarship recognition and program participation. While each factor is significant, no one factor will be considered determinative in the decision process:
- Bilingual or multilingual abilities
- Cultural background
- Evidence of commitment to diversity
- Evidence of leadership skills
- First generation college student
- Geographic diversity
- Financial, social, family, physical or educational hardships
- Previous career before pursuing higher education
- Service to community
- Socioeconomic status
- Urban/rural background
- Other unique contributions
Diverse Student Organizations
The following student organizations at KU Law provide support and assistance to their members, promote cultural awareness in the law school and in the legal profession and serve as vehicles for law school and community involvement. They often partner in planning service and social activities throughout the year. Members also collaborate in their efforts to recruit and mentor new students.
Membership in each of these organizations is open to all students. Contact information is available by clicking on the links below.
- Asian Law Students Association (ALSA)
- Black Law Students Association (BLSA)
- Hispanic American Law Students Association (HALSA)
- Native American Law Students Association (NALSA)
- Non-Traditionals in Law Association (NILA)
- OUTLaws & Allies
- Women in Law (WIL)
Dean's Diversity Leadership Council
Established in 2015, the Dean’s Diversity Leadership Council (DDLC) is a student organization dedicated to promoting diversity and fostering a welcoming and inclusive environment for all members of the KU Law community. The DDLC serves as an advisory council to the Dean and to the KU Law Faculty/Staff Committee on Diversity & Inclusion, which assists all members of the KU Law community in diversity and inclusion matters. Among other accomplishments, the DDLC has created and distributed a KU Law Climate Survey and hosted a panel discussion on the importance of diversity in the legal profession. Moving forward, the DDLC will build on these actions and take an active role in helping to ensure that the KU Law environment is one in which everyone is comfortable talking about their ideas and concerns in a manner that is respectful and productive.
Council members for 2019-2020 are:
- Malika Baker
- Michael Bene
- Terra Brockman
- Claudia Chavarria
- Denise Dantzler
- Aidan Graybill
- Delaney Hiegert
- Saber Hossinei
- Joy Merklen
- Bria Nelson
- Abraham Pfannenstiel
Diversity in Law Banquet
Asian Law Students Association, Black Law Students Association, Hispanic American Law Students Association, Native American Law Students Association, and OUTLaws & Allies take turns hosting this annual event, which celebrates the ways in which diversity enriches KU Law and serves as a fundraiser for the Diversity Scholarship Fund.
NIC Inc. and KU Law present the
25th Annual Diversity in Law Banquet
February 21, 2020 | 6 p.m. cocktails | 7 p.m. dinner
The Oread Hotel, Hancock Ballroom
1200 Oread Avenue, Lawrence, KS
Registration will open in early January.
The 2020 Diversity in Law Banquet is hosted by OUTLaws & Allies. The Title Sponsor is NIC, Inc.
Melanie Wilson will be the keynote speaker at the 25th Annual Diversity in Law Banquet.
Wilson is the dean at the University of Tennessee College of Law. She has served in this role since 2015. Wilson previously served as professor of law, associate dean for academic affairs, and director of diversity and inclusion at KU Law.
Melanie Wilson began her tenure as dean of The University of Tennessee College of Law in 2015. Wilson earned a JD (magna cum laude and Order of the Coif) from the University of Georgia School of Law. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism with a minor in business, also from the University of Georgia. She previously served as professor of law, associate dean for academic affairs, and director of diversity and inclusion at the University of Kansas School of Law.
Before entering academia, Wilson clerked for a federal district court judge and enjoyed thirteen years of sophisticated law practice in both the private and public sectors, including six years as an assistant United States attorney and four years as an assistant attorney general for the state of Georgia. As an academic, Wilson has demonstrated an enthusiasm for both teaching and scholarship. She received the Howard M. and Susan Immel Award for Teaching Excellence at the University of Kansas School of Law in 2011 and was named Outstanding Woman Educator of 2015 by the University of Kansas. She also co-authored three books on criminal procedure and has published more than a dozen articles and essays addressing the Fourth and Sixth Amendments, as well as prosecutorial ethics.
OUTLaws & Allies Mission Statement
The purpose of OUTLaws & Allies is to promote a positive atmosphere at KU Law for LGBTQ+ students and their allies. The objective of OUTLaws is to educate the community at large about the issues and concerns specific to the LGBTQ+ community to help alleviate and eradicate homophobia, transphobia, racism, sexism and other affronts to the dignity of individual human beings. OUTLaws also seeks to promote strong ties between student organizations and the community through outreach and education.
Contact Rebecca Clayton at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Interested in sponsorship opportunities? Contact Assistant Dean Leah Terranova at email@example.com.
Special thanks to our sponsors
- Martin, Pringle, Oliver, Wallace and Bauer LLP
- Clark, Mize & Linville, Chartered
- Payne & Jones, Chartered
Thanksgiving Food Drive
The entire student body actively supports this annual food drive sponsored by the Black Law Students Association. First-year small sections compete to contribute the most items. Faculty members support the cause by exchanging "passes" in class for a canned food donation. Items collected provide Thanksgiving meals for hundreds of families in the Lawrence community.
Thurgood Marshall Law Day
The Black Law Students Association reaches out to the youth of the community to provide them with cultivating and enriching discussions on contemporary law topics and diversity in the profession.
A live auction and variety show with faculty and student participants highlights this event. Hosted by Women in Law, Pub Night raises funds for local charities that provide support and assistance to women and children.
Faculty/Staff Committee on Diversity & Inclusion
Led by Assistant Dean for Academic and Student Affairs Leah Terranova, the Faculty and Staff Committee on Diversity & Inclusion promotes tolerance and professionalism in law school and the practice of law. Committee members include Professors Jean Phillips, Betsy Six, Kyle Velte, Shawn Watts and Lua Yuille, Dean Stephen Mazza, as well as Margaret Hair and Yolanda Huggins from the KU Law staff.
- Fall Diversity & Inclusion Welcome BBQ at Green Hall
- Guest speakers and panels on diversity-related issues
- Monthly lunchtime forums to foster discussions and trainings on issues of diversity and equity
- The Diversity Dash, a diversity-themed scavenger hunt for students
- First-year student orientation session on professionalism, communication, and community in the law school and the practice of law
- Professionalism training for clinic students in their third year of law school
- Annual diversity training for faculty during the fall faculty retreat
- Periodic meetings with the Diversity Advisory Council (alumni), the Dean’s Diversity Leadership Council (DDLC), and law student organizations
Diversity Advisory Council
The Diversity Advisory Council counts among its members culturally diverse and accomplished KU Law alumni who have agreed to share their wisdom and experience. They serve as a resource to Dean Stephen Mazza in the recruitment and retention of students from groups that are under-represented in law school classrooms, among the practicing Bar and on the Bench. Current members of the council are:
- Mayra Aguirre, L’07
- Laura Clark Fey, L’92
- Amy Fowler, L’00
- Rico Kolster, L’00
- Pat Konopka, L’94
- Jehan Kamil Moore, L’05
- Demetrius Peterson, L’09
- Melissa Plunkett, L'11
- Kelley Sears, L’74
- Henry Thomas, L’13
- Jabari Wamble, L’06
- Issaku Yamaashi, L’00
- Alyse Zadalis, L’15
- Holly Zane, L’86
- Gabe Zorogastua, L’07
KU Law was one of 66 ABA-accredited law schools to respond to the National LGBT Bar Association’s inaugural Law School Climate Survey. Survey responses outline policies and procedures impacting the school’s LGBTQ+ population. See KU Law's responses to the LGBT Bar's Law School Climate Survey 2019.