Recruiting Sexual Minorities and People with Disabilities to Be Dean

13 Pages Posted: 5 Dec 2012

See all articles by Joan W. Howarth

Joan W. Howarth

William S. Boyd School of Law, UNLV; Michigan State University College of Law

Date Written: 2008


As our day-to-day work lives make abundantly clear, a law faculty is a many-headed creature: an assortment of people with a variety of interests, strengths, foibles, personalities, and identities. Within the legal academy, a dominant consensus acknowledges that a strong faculty embodies diversity along multiple axes, including, for example, race, gender, religion, age, political ideology, research and teaching methodologies, and subject matter expertise.

The dean, however, stands alone, and stands above. Thus, issues of expectation, representation, comfort with and fear of difference operate quite differently when deans are selected, and when they do their jobs. The dean exercises authority over the entire institution. The dean also represents the entire school, and by common metaphor, is said to be the face of the law school. This symposium's focus on diversity in deaning is important because notions about identity inevitably shape how a dean's authority, competence, vulnerability, power, trustworthiness, and strength are interpreted, understood, and experienced. Imposed identity issues play out differently when the choice is not just about a colleague, but instead about the person in charge.

This Essay discusses diversity in deaning as it pertains to two identity categories: members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) communities, and people with disabilities.

Keywords: minorities, hiring, dean, legal education, faculty, diversity, LGBT, LGBTQ, disabilities, gay, lesbian

Suggested Citation

Howarth, Joan W., Recruiting Sexual Minorities and People with Disabilities to Be Dean (2008). Seattle University Law Review, Vol. 31, 2008, MSU Legal Studies Research Paper, Available at SSRN:

Joan W. Howarth (Contact Author)

William S. Boyd School of Law, UNLV ( email )

4505 South Maryland Parkway
Box 451003
Las Vegas, NV 89154
United States

Michigan State University College of Law ( email )

318 Law College Building
East Lansing, MI 48824-1300
United States

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