Kimberly Mutcherson became the first Black person, the first member of the LGBTQ community and the first woman to be the dean of Rutgers University-Camden’s law school on Tuesday.
A bioethics and health law scholar, Mutcherson was appointed to her position by Chancellor Phoebe Haddon, NJ Biz reports. In a statement to the Courier-Post, Haddon gave her school’s new law dean effusive praise. “Kim Mutcherson is a collaborative leader who is positioned to build upon the momentum and energy of Rutgers Law,” said Haddon. “She is passionate about the value of a legal education that prepares creative thinkers who are ready to be leaders in virtually every aspect of our society.”
The focus of Mutcherson’s work is reproductive justice and how a family is defined and considered by the law.
The new dean said she’s already made plans to work closely with her co-dean, David Lopez, and that she’s excited about taking on new responsibilities.
“I am th-rilled to be able to continue my service to Rutgers law as co-dean,” she said. “Working with David Lopez, I know that our institution has a very bright future and will continue to provide high-quality legal education and produce lawyers who change the profession and the world for the better.”
Mutcherson joined Rutgers University-Camden Law School as an assistant professor in 2002 and began serving as the school’s vice dean in 2015.
We're thrilled to officially announce the appointment of Kimberly Mutcherson (@ProfessorMutch) as the new Co-Dean of @RutgersLaw in Camden. She is the first woman, African American, and LGBT law co-dean at Rutgers.
— Rutgers Law ⚖️ (@RutgersLaw) January 2, 2019
The news of her appointment to a leadership position is a bright spot for Black women in academia faculties, a group occupying an alarmingly small percentage of overall faculty members.
A 2016 National Center for Education Statistics study found Black women make up only 3 percent of the 1.5 million faculty members in higher education.
A Nation report found only five percent of American college and university presidents were Black women in 2016, and that at some of the nation’s most diverse schools, like the University of California-Los Angeles, there are no Black women at all in leadership positions.
Yolanda Pierce, a Black woman who is 2018 became the first Black woman dean in Howard School of Divinity’s 150-year history, told the Nation important changes in education are finally allowing Black women to take on leadership roles.
“It wasn’t that I had some sense that I was more qualified than some women 30 years ago or 50 years ago, but it was that some shifts have occurred in terms of higher education and black female leadership,” Pierce said. “So it was a bittersweet moment. I’m glad to serve as the first black female dean, but I don’t want to be the last one.”
Congratulations to Kimberly Mutcherson; we hope she will also be the first of many Black Rutgers Law School deans.