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Dean's Welcome Message: Fall 2017

Posted By Kevin R. Johnson, Aug 21, 2017

Welcome to the Class of 2020, our new transfer students, international exchange students, visiting scholars and professors, and LL.M. students from around the world.  And welcome back to all of our faculty and returning second-and third-year students. 

A Message from UC President Janet Napolitano on the Recent Events in Charlottesville

2017 has been a tumultuous year.  The recent news from Charlottesville, Virginia, was especially disturbing to many people, me included.  UC President Janet Napolitano released a strong statement about the events.  UC Davis Chancellor Gary May offered this powerful message to the community:

I have spent the past several days reflecting on what the tragic events in Charlottesville mean for UC Davis. The images of an armed, angry mob marching with torchlights across a college campus and chanting racist slogans were infuriating and frightening. 

It wasn't the actions of “many sides” that led to the deaths of a counterprotestor and two state police officers. There was only one side that provoked the hate-fueled violence –– those who organized the racially charged rally and the sympathizers who joined them. 

This terrorizing display of racism and hate has raised questions about the limits on freedom of expression. College campuses have always been –– and should continue to be ­­–– a forum for wide-open debate and discussion. However, there is an unmistakable difference between protected and prohibited speech. Incitement to violence is not speech.  Terrorism is not dialogue. Freedom of speech is about new ideas, not old hate.

I am a strong advocate for free speech, but as chancellor of this university my paramount concern is for the safety of our students, staff and faculty. I assure you that UC Davis has policies and procedures in place for managing events that have any likelihood of provoking violence, and I can promise that we will do everything within our power to ensure the safety of everyone on campus.

We cannot allow our institutions of higher learning to become centers for ideologies repugnant to everything our nation stands for. In times like these, I am inspired by a favored saying of Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights leaders: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”

Intolerance will not win. 


On Tuesday at noon in the Kalmanovitz Appellate Courtroom, we will hold a town hall to discuss the recent events in Charlottesville and beyond.  Among others, Associate Vice Chancellor for Diversity Affairs (and law faculty member) Raquel Aldana, Director of the Aoki Center on Critical Race and Nation Studies Mary Louise Frampton, and Professor Aaron Tang will offer introductory comments followed by a community discussion.

The Class of 2020:  Excellence and Diversity

Representing the best of more than 3,000 applicants, the Class of 2020 is an extraordinarily well-qualified group of 151 J.D. students.  Fifty-four percent of the 1L Class are students of color and 58 percent are women.  More than 20 percent are first generation law students.  Eight are veterans of the armed services.

In addition, we are honored and privileged to also welcome an incredible group of 74 LL.M. students, including judges and lawyers literally hailing from around the world – Canada, China, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Kyrgyzstan, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Taiwan, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and Uzbekistan.

New Faculty and Endowed Chair

In January, Shayak Sarkar, a former Rhodes Scholar, joins the faculty.  His research focuses on law and economics, financial regulation, employment law, and immigration.  Professor Sarkar is finishing his Ph.D. in economics at Harvard.  Raquel Aldana, previously the Associate Dean for Scholarship at University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law, joins UC Davis as Vice Chancellor for Academic Diversity and a Professor of Law. 

A pillar of the King Hall community, as well as an influential scholar of law and culture, intellectual property and social justice, Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Madhavi Sunder has been named the Daniel J. Dykstra Chair of Law. 

Designed to advocate for clean and adequate water for all Californians, the Water Justice Clinic, directed by Camille Pannu, will allow students to work on rural water justice issues and learn transactional lawyering skills and effective legislative and administrative advocacy.  Professor Pannu previously worked for the Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment as an Equal Justice Works Fellow. 

New Courses

We have added an incredible array of new classes to the Law School curriculum.  Fall additions include Community Lawyering, Counseling & Legal Strategy in the Digital Age, International Arbitration & Investment Law, Patent Litigation, Special Education Law & Policy, Startups & Venture Capital, and U.S. Supreme Court Simulation Seminar.  New courses in the Spring include Business and Human Rights, Complex Litigation in a Civil Rights Context, Criminal Trial Skills, Financial Regulation and Consumer Protection, International Intellectual Property and Development, International Trade Law:  Public Law Issues, Mental Disability Law, and Tax Issues Related to Estate Planning.

More Academic Success Programming

King Hall continues to expand its Academic Support Program.  Third year students now may take two new bar skills courses, attend the “Passing the Bar” workshops, and participate in the post-graduation essay writing program. 

Employment Rates Rising

More than 82 percent of the Class of 2016 attained full-time legal employment within 10 months of graduation.  Roughly 65 percent of the class of 2017 has already secured full-time legal jobs.  About 70 employers, an increase from last year, will interview students during the first stage of our On Campus Interviewing program.

First Generation Advocates

We have unveiled our new First Generation Advocates program, which is designed to maximize the success of first generation law students.  It includes a mentorship program, seminar series, and networking events.  A welcome reception for program participants will be held on Thursday, August 24 at 5 p.m. in the King Hall Courtyard.

Alumni Support

We had another stellar development year raising nearly $1.9 million.  That includes more than $1 million for student support and funding for more than 50 named scholarships.

New Staff

New staff members include Alexis Elston (Assistant Director of Admission); Sofia Parino (Associate Director for Public Interest & Government–Career Services); Carol Stephan (Director of Development); Kelley Weiss (Executive Director of Marketing and Communications); and Katrina Wong (Academic Personnel Analyst).

Lectures and Events in 2017/18

Mark your calendars for many upcoming events, including

  • October 16:  Central Valley Foundation/James B. McClatchy Lecture on the First Amendment, Eugene Volokh, Gary T. Schwartz Professor of Law at UCLA School of Law.
  • November 7:  Senior Associate Dean Madhavi Sunder delivers a lecture to commemorate her appointment as the Daniel J. Dykstra Chair of Law.
  • November 16:  Brigitte M. Bodenheimer Lecture on Family Law, Melissa Murray, Alexander F. and May T. Morrison Professor of Law, UC Berkeley Law.
  • February 6:  Edward L. Barrett, Jr. Lecture on Constitutional Law, Guy-Uriel E. Charles, Charles S. Rhyne Professor of Law and Senior Associate Dean for Faculty & Research at Duke Law School.

For news and announcements, be sure to regularly check the School of Law website, the Deans' Blog, and the Faculty Blog.  Please follow your King Hall on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.  Thank you all for being part of the King Hall community.  We are looking forward to an amazing 2017/18 academic year.

Kevin R. Johnson