Welcome to the first edition of UNH Franklin Pierce School of Law’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Digest. The DEI Digest will be released periodically and will focus on UNH Franklin Pierce’s efforts to promote DEI within our law school community.
The following highlights a few of the recent initiatives that have been enacted in support of UNH Franklin Pierce’s commitment to DEI.
The DEI Fund & DEI Scholarship Fund
Through the generosity of several alumni, particularly Doug Wood ’76 and Peter Nieves ’98, UNH Franklin Pierce established two funds, the DEI Fund and the DEI Scholarship Fund. The DEI Fund is being used to fund several important and new initiatives intended to support meaningful and lasting change at the school, including the CLEO Legally Inspired Cohort Fellows (mentioned in “Partnerships” below). From 2020 to 2021, the school with the generous support of the alumni DEI fund, appointed Amber Ezzell, Class of 2021, as its first DEI Fellow who reported to the Dean, to create and deliver related programming and facilitate the implementation of short-term and long-term goals. As Ms. Ezzell’s term has expired, UNH Franklin Pierce has hired Professor Sindiso Mnisi Weeks as a DEI Faculty Fellow for the upcoming academic year who will join the community in July 2022. Professor Weeks brings a wealth of experience in human rights, cultural rights, and participatory democracy to UNH Franklin Pierce. For the upcoming term, Professor Weeks will serve as a faculty mentor to students and support DEI initiatives in support of Faculty activities.
Through the DEI Scholarship Fund, and other similar funds that have been established at the law school, UNH Franklin Pierce--as the most diverse school in the university system with a four-fold increase in the number of minority students since 2017--is deeply dedicated to ensuring it will be able to provide meaningful scholarship support to attract and retain students, who, by their backgrounds, life experiences, and viewpoints, will advance the university’s goal of enhancing the educational experience through enrollment of a diverse student body.
Council of Legal Education Opportunity (CLEO) and its CLEO Legally Inspired Cohort (CLIC) Fellows
UNH Franklin Pierce has joined the Council of Legal Education Opportunity’s (CLEO) and its CLEO Legally Inspired Cohort (CLIC) Fellows program. This highly competitive, ground-breaking program identifies, recruits, and trains low-income and minority law school applicants who possess both the academic aptitude and leadership skills to attend its partner schools in a supportive cohort with dedicated faculty and 3L student mentors. The DEI Fund will be used to support the Fellows program to open opportunities for several new students while ensuring a welcoming, supportive, and inclusive environment for these new students.
CLEO is a national non-profit organization founded in 1968 to expand opportunities for minority and low-income students to attend law school. Since its inception, more than 25,000 students have participated in CLEO’s programs and joined the legal profession.
Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities
UNH Franklin Pierce has joined the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) as a partner institution. HACU is a champion of Hispanic higher education success and provides a vital platform for advocacy, information, collaboration, and recognition. It is UNH Franklin Pierce’s goal to leverage its partnership with HACU to increase recruitment, retention, and career development opportunities for our school by providing information and resources to staff and faculty, access to conferences and events, professional and institutional development resources, and student internship opportunities.
HACU was established in 1986 with a founding membership of eighteen institutions. Because of HACU’s exemplary leadership on behalf of the nation’s youngest and fastest-growing population, the Association rapidly grew in numbers and national impact. Today, HACU represents more than 500 colleges and universities committed to Hispanic higher education success in the US, Puerto Rico, Latin America, Spain, and US school districts. With the help of HACU’s Office of Government Relations in Washington, DC, HACU maintains more than 30 formal Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) and Partnership Agreements with federal agencies, offices, and business organizations. HACU also provides assistance and outreach to education institutions by hosting technical assistance workshops throughout the country on available federal program grants and other resources. The HACU National Internship Program also operates out of the Washington, DC office and places more than 450 student interns each year with corporations and federal agencies in Washington and field offices around the country.
Police Practices Consortium
UNH Franklin Pierce is now a member of the Police Practices Consortium, a project started by law deans across the country, in partnership with the American Bar Association (ABA), to draw on geographic diversity to advance widespread adoption of effective policing and promote racial equity. In 2022, UNH Franklin Pierce appointed two ABA Fellows to the Police Practices Consortium, Coda Campbell ’23 and Zosia Buse ’23, who will work on diversity in hiring and the intersection of mental health and policing, respectively.
New Hampshire 1L Law Students Summer Associate Diversity Program
The Career Services Office at UNH Franklin Pierce has been extensively involved with the legal community of New Hampshire to begin a New Hampshire 1L Law Students Summer Associate Diversity Program. UNH Franklin Pierce in collaboration with five of the state’s leading law firms are offering ten-week paid summer associate positions during the summer. The firms will partner with UNH Franklin Pierce to offer joint programming for participants designed to introduce the students to life in the Granite State. Each of the firms will provide a meaningful experience to students who will contribute to the diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts of the firms and the New Hampshire legal community.
Association of American Law Schools (AALS) on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging Professionals
UNH Franklin Pierce has signed a petition to propose an establishment of a new section of the Association of American Law Schools (AALS) on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging Professionals. We believe this is another important way to highlight how UNH Franklin Pierce is engaging in systemic ways to promote the communication of ideas, interests, and activities among law schools; with a primary focus on race, equity, and commitment to the inclusion of all historically excluded law school populations.
UNH Franklin Pierce and UNH’s Office of Community, Equity, and Diversity (OCED) and the Affirmative Action and Equity Office (AAEO) have strengthened their partnership to increase OCED and AAEO’s presence on our campus.
UNH Franklin Pierce has established an office space for OCED and AAEO in Room 302 (around the corner from the Dean for Students’ office). Various members of OCED and AAEO will work from these offices periodically which will allow our community members to have increased access to OCED/AAEO resources. These efforts aim to enhance the law school’s commitment to create a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive community.
Professor John Greabe, director of the Warren B. Rudman Center for Justice, Leadership, and Public Service, testified in support of repealing a bill on constitutional issues that interfere with what public universities can say about race and recently has had his editorials on the subject published in the NH Bulletin and Union Leader.
The law school is co-sponsoring the Lutie A. Lytle Black Women Law Deans – Faculty Writing Workshop this fall.
In addition to the efforts outlined above, UNH Franklin Pierce is also exploring new DEI initiatives moving forward, including but not limited to,
- Educational programs and training sessions in support of Orientation and continued training topics for students
- Provide classroom discussion and conflict management training in the areas of facilitating difficult discussions
- Launching a diversity career opportunities fair; and
- Working with law firms to potentially develop an internship opportunity scholars’ program which would provide scholarship support and guarantee a summer internship at the sponsoring firm for students from diverse backgrounds.
Much more work remains to be done in support of the school’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Members of the law school community are always encouraged to volunteer in support of the initiatives above or to suggest additional efforts. Thank you!
UNH Franklin Pierce’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Statement
The University of New Hampshire Franklin Pierce School of Law is committed to building and sustaining a diverse, equitable, and genuinely inclusive environment for all students, staff, applicants, and visitors. We believe that to foster diversity and inclusiveness in our school means to acknowledge the intrinsic worth of varied experiences and to promote equality of respect and opportunity for every member of our community. We seek to encourage greater mutual understanding of the ways that individual differences have shaped personal identities. We aim to celebrate the differences that make each of us unique and to support the growth and talent of our community members to ensure that all may reach their full potential. We recognize that this climate of inclusion is vital to our continued success in attaining the highest quality research, scholarship, teaching, engagement, and all other strategic goals of our school. We accept and welcome the responsibility of teaching and learning in a diverse democracy where social justice serves as a bridge between a quality education and civic engagement.