Campus & Community

Martha Minow named dean of Harvard Law School

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Martha Minow, the Jeremiah Smith Jr., Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, will become the dean of the Faculty of Law on July 1, President Drew Faust announced today (June 11).

A member of the Law School faculty since 1981, Minow is a distinguished legal scholar with interests that range from international human rights to equality and inequality, from religion and pluralism to managing mass tort litigation, from family law and education law to the privatization of military, schooling, and other governmental activities. She is also a widely admired teacher who chaired the Law School’s curricular reform efforts of recent years and was recognized with the School’s Sacks-Freund Award for Teaching Excellence in 2005.

“Martha Minow has been an intellectual leader, a devoted teacher and mentor, a collaborative colleague, and an exemplary institutional citizen across her nearly three decades of service on the Harvard Law School faculty,” said Faust in announcing the appointment. “She’s a scholar of remarkable intelligence, imagination, and scope, with a passion for legal education and a deep sense of how the law can serve essential public purposes. She has played an important and influential role in the institutional life of the Law School and the University over the years, and I am delighted that she has agreed to serve as dean during a critical time in the long and storied history of the School.”

“I am deeply honored and humbled by the opportunity to serve as the next dean of Harvard Law School,” said Minow. “I am grateful to Drew Faust for inviting me to assume this vital role, and I will do my best to enhance and build upon the extraordinary leadership of past deans Elena Kagan and Robert Clark, and the wise and thoughtful stewardship of Acting Dean Howell Jackson. In this time of both challenge and promise for this country and for the world, Harvard Law School faculty, students, staff, and graduates are already playing pivotal roles in the search for financial stability, national security, peaceful international relations, and legal order. I am eager to help the remarkable community of people at the Harvard Law School, in concert with colleagues across Harvard and beyond, continue to pursue the promise of the rule of law, the ideal of justice, the practical solution of problems, and ever deeper understandings of legal institutions and commitments.”

Minow’s appointment comes in light of the March confirmation of Elena Kagan, the Charles Hamilton Houston Professor of Law, to serve as solicitor general of the United States after nearly six years in the deanship. Howell Jackson, the James S. Reid, Jr., Professor of Law, has served as the School’s acting dean in recent months.

“Howell Jackson has done an extraordinary job these past few months guiding the School with great professionalism and dedication,” said Faust. “I am very grateful to him for having been willing to lead the School on an interim basis through a challenging transitional time. And, once again, I want to recognize and thank Elena Kagan for a deanship that had a transformative positive impact on Harvard Law School.”

In addition to many articles in legal and other journals, Minow’s publications include the books “Partners, Not Rivals: Privatization and the Public Good” (2002), “Breaking the Cycles of Hatred: Memory, Law, and Repair” (2002), “Between Vengeance and Forgiveness: Facing History After Genocide and Mass Violence” (1998), “Not Only for Myself: Identity, Politics, and the Law” (1997), and “Making All the Difference: Inclusion, Exclusion, and American Law” (1990). She is co-editor of casebooks on civil procedure, women and the law, and family law, as well as volumes including “Government by Contract: Outsourcing and American Democracy” (2009, with Jody Freeman), “Just Schools: Pursuing Equality in Societies of Difference” (2008, with Richard Shweder and Hazel Rose Markus), “Engaging Cultural Differences: The Multicultural Challenge in Liberal Democracies” (2002, with Shweder and Markus), and “Law Stories: Law, Meaning, and Violence” (1996, with Gary Bellow).

Minow co-chaired the Law School’s curricular reform committee from 2003 to 2006, an effort that led to significant innovation in the first-year curriculum as well as new programs of study for second- and third-year J.D. students. She has taught courses on a wide range of subjects including civil procedure, constitutional law (with a focus on the First Amendment, the structure of government, and the 14th Amendment), nonprofit organizations, family law, law and education, jurisprudence, and the legal profession. She is a senior fellow of the Harvard Society of Fellows as well as a past member of the Harvard University Press Board of Syndics. She twice served as acting director of what is now Harvard’s Edmond J. Safra Foundation Center for Ethics (1993-94 and 2000-01), where she remains a member of the governing faculty committee, and she co-chaired Harvard’s Project on Justice, Welfare, and Economics (2001-03), where she also continues to serve on the faculty committee.

A member of the Independent International Commission on Kosovo, she played a leading role in the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees’ “Imagine Coexistence” project, aimed at promoting peaceful coexistence after violent ethnic conflict. In addition, she has co-directed a multidisciplinary study of U.S. responses to recent immigrants, as well as a federally sponsored center supporting access to the general curriculum for public school children with disabilities. She chairs the board of the Charles H. Revson Foundation, and has also served on the boards of the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, the Covenant Foundation, Facing History and Ourselves, and the Iranian Human Rights Documentation Center.

After completing her undergraduate studies at the University of Michigan, Minow received a master’s degree in education from Harvard and her law degree from Yale. She clerked for Judge David Bazelon of the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and then for Justice Thurgood Marshall of the Supreme Court of the United States. She joined the Harvard Law faculty as an assistant professor in 1981, was promoted to professor in 1986, was named the William Henry Bloomberg Professor of Law in 2003, and became the Jeremiah Smith Jr., Professor of Law in 2005. She is also a lecturer in the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Minow’s appointment marks the culmination of a broad-ranging search that began in early January, after President Barack Obama nominated Elena Kagan as U.S. solicitor general. “The search gave me the opportunity to meet with many of the Law School’s faculty, as well as with key groups of students, staff, alumni, and others,” said Faust. “I learned a great deal about the state of the School and its future opportunities and challenges, and I’m very grateful to everyone who took the time to offer constructive advice along the way. I’m especially thankful to the dozen faculty colleagues who served on my advisory group for the search, for their candor, their collegiality, and their good counsel in helping arrive at an excellent outcome.”