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University of Cincinnati Appoints Verna Williams as its First African-American Law School Dean

University of Cincinnati Appoints Verna Williams as its First African-American Law School Dean

University of Cincinnati has recently appointed long-time faculty member Verna Williams as dean of the university’s law school, making her the first African-American to hold this position. 

According to, Williams served as interim dean and Nippert Professor of Law at the university since May of 2017. Her areas of interest, according to the University of Cincinnati College of Law site, include constitutional law, critical theory/race and the law, family law and feminist legal theory. 

Williams, who first joined the university as an assistant professor in 2001, was named a professor in 2006 and served as Judge Joseph P. Kinneary Professor of Law from 2013-2017. 

Before joining the UC family, she practiced law at the Department of Justice and worked as vice president and director of educational opportunities at the National Women’s Law Center. It was there where she focused on issues of gender equality in education and served as the lead counsel where she successfully argued before the Supreme Court of the United States. Additionally, she worked as a consultant for the Ford Foundation. 

According to, Williams, who is also a graduate of Georgetown University, attended Harvard Law School with former First Lady Michelle Obama. Later, she worked closely with Obama to help write her bestselling book “Becoming” and tells the Cincinnati Enquirer that she used to travel to D.C. twice a year to jot down and discuss the activities and events taking place in the White House. 

“Being at the White House, it’s my friend, by it’s kind of mind-blowing,” she said in a 2018 interview. “The first time I was there, I was literally shaking because I wanted to do a good job for her.”

With years of law experience under her belt, Provost Kristi A. Nelson, who serves as Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs at UC says that she is “confident Verna’s strong leadership and progressive vision for the college coupled with her legal practice in both the public and private sectors will continue to propel the College of Law forward as we create our next-minded future.”