40-year anniversary: Hastie Fellowship Program celebrates James E. Jones

Front row: Michele Goodwin, James E. Jones, Jr., Lahny Silva.  Second Row: Michael Greene, Osamudia James, Robin Barnes, Kimberle Crenshaw, Cary Martin, Mario Barnes, Shalanda Baker, Thomas Mitchell, Adele Morrison

Founded in 1973, the Hastie Fellowship Program at the University of Wisconsin Law School celebrates a milestone this year. At 40, it is the oldest teaching fellowship of its kind—and nationally, one of just a handful in existence.

Designed to train minority lawyers for careers in the legal academy, the two-year, research-focused fellowship got its name from the late civil rights activist, judge and Howard Law School dean, William H. Hastie. But the Hastie Program owes its existence to founding director James E. Jones, Jr., now a UW Law School emeritus professor.

Professor Thomas W. Mitchell, faculty director of the program, says Jones took a pioneering, proactive stance toward diversifying law school faculties. “He believed that beyond merely trying—and often failing—to recruit qualified minority faculty, law schools had a duty to develop and prepare minority lawyers to succeed in tenure-track positions,” Mitchell adds.

Jones created the Hastie Program at a time when estimates put the number of black law school faculty in the United States at 100, with most serving at historically black law schools.

Since then, law schools have made strides toward increasing faculty diversity, but efforts have stalled in recent years, Mitchell says. He points to 2008 statistics, in which 15 percent of law professors identified themselves as minorities, as compared to the 34 percent in the general population at the time.

James E. Jones, Jr. in 1971<
James E. Jones, Jr. in 1971

Jones hoped other law schools would replicate the Hastie model. A few schools tried, but not all sustained their efforts. “Wisconsin has Jim Jones’ vision and resolve to thank for the longevity of the Hastie Program,” Mitchell says. “Our administration and faculty deserve credit, too, for continuing to see the program’s value even when resources are tight.”

To commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Hastie Fellowship Program, the Wisconsin Law Review has just published a series of tributes to Jones, featuring essays by former fellows and others who worked with him. Mitchell, a Hastie alumnus and Jones mentee, contributed an overview of the program’s history.

Among the other contributors are former fellows Daniel Bernstine, who went on to become the Law School’s first African American dean, later served as president of Portland State University, and is current president of the Law School Admissions Council; Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, distinguished professor at both UCLA School of Law and Columbia Law School; and Stacy Leeds, current dean of the University of Arkansas School of Law and the first Native-American female ever to have served as dean of a law school in the United States.

Submitted by Law School News on June 25, 2013

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