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Message from Dean Boise: New College of Law Cultural Competency Developments

Posted on Friday 5/7/2021
College of Law

Dear College of Law Community,

As we approach the end of yet another academic year and promote a new class of graduates into the field, I’d like to share with you two important developments in our efforts to achieve a more inclusive College of Law community.

Our commitment to fostering a campus community that is free from discrimination and that embraces the diversity of its community members is rooted in the belief that multiple points of view and different life experiences, ethnicities, cultures, and belief systems are essential to academic excellence and to your successful navigation of the world of legal practice upon graduation.

First, in the fall of 2020 I asked our faculty’s Curriculum Committee, led by Professor Paula Johnson, to develop a recommendation to the faculty as to the adoption of a required course for all College of Law students addressing issues related to race and ethnicity, historical racism, cultural competence, and implicit bias, or, in the alternative, a series of modules on these topics that would be embedded in several different, existing courses.  

In developing its recommendation, I asked that the Committee consult broadly with all student groups as well as with the College of Law’s Committee on Inclusion Initiatives, led by Professor Suzette Melendez.

At our April 2021 faculty meetings, the Curriculum Committee and the Committee on Inclusion Initiatives reported out on their work and recommended a three-pronged Cultural Competency Curriculum. This new curriculum will be launched this fall and will be applicable to all students beginning with the Class of 2024

The new curriculum consists of:

  • A Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) primer module for Orientation and JDi Residencies, to be launched this August and followed throughout the year by a variety of diversity-related programs and activities in which both students and faculty may participate.
  • A 1L DEI Summer Initiative to develop, under the guidance of faculty, DEI themes and materials that will become part of courses taught throughout the 1L curriculum, beginning this August.
  • A new graduation requirement, applicable to all students beginning with the Class of 2024, which may be satisfied by selecting a cultural competency-related course from a list of several existing courses as well as new courses to be developed. In connection with imposing this new requirement, I have asked our faculty to review and assess all graduation requirements to ensure that College of Law students are afforded a meaningful set of elective courses from which to choose subject matter that is of interest to them.

I am grateful to the Curriculum Committee and the Committee on Inclusion Initiatives, and to all our faculty, for their work in devising the College of Law’s new Cultural Competency Curriculum.  I look forward to sharing more about each of the components over the summer and through the fall. 

Second, I am also proud to announce the establishment of the new Hon. Sandra L. Townes, L’76 Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Student Resource Center that will open this fall  on the second floor of the library. Named for the pioneering jurist and educator, the Resource Center will be a space for students and faculty to convene and curate resources for sharing, experiencing, and actualizing diversity and inclusion at the College of Law and in our profession.

Please continue to follow the progress of our work together to advance, to model, and to experience Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, by visiting our Diversity and Inclusion web pages

Best regards,

Craig M. Boise
Dean and Professor of Law