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Dean Johnson, Professor Aldana to Direct Aoki Center in 2021-22

News Posted on July 9, 2021

Dean Kevin R. Johnson and Professor Raquel E. Aldana, internationally recognized immigration law scholars, will direct UC Davis Law’s Aoki Center for Critical Race and Nation Studies in the 2021-22 academic year.

Established in 2013, the Aoki Center honors the life and work of the late UC Davis Law Professor Keith Aoki, an acclaimed scholar in civil rights, critical race theory, intellectual property and local government law. 

Through scholarly research on the intersection of race and law, the center draws together faculty from throughout UC Davis, the UC system and beyond to advance the fields of civil rights, critical race theory and immigration law, among other topics. 

Johnson and Aldana will assume the center’s directorship from Professor Mary Louise Frampton, who has retired. Frampton directed the center for four years after leading UC Berkeley Law’s Thelton E. Henderson Center for Social Justice for more than a decade. 

Under Frampton’s leadership, the Aoki Center established the Water Justice Clinic and Tribal Justice Project, among other initiatives, and teamed with UC Davis’ Department of History for spring 2021’s semester-long “The Free People of Color Lecture Series.” 

“We thank Professor Frampton for her steadfast leadership of the Aoki Center and her service to UC Davis and UC Berkeley,” Johnson said. 

Johnson has served as the law school’s dean since 2008 and is the Mabie-Apallas Professor of Public Interest Law and Professor of Chicana/o Studies at UC Davis. His specialty areas include immigration law and policy, refugee law, civil rights and critical race theory. He is a member of the American Law Institute, the nation’s most prestigious non-governmental legal-reform organization. 

In fall 2020, Johnson initiated UC Davis Law’s Racial Justice Speaker Series. Spanning the 2020-21 academic year, the series featured 11 lectures by speakers from across the country. After a successful inaugural year that drew as many as 400 people per talk, the series will be a permanent part of the law school’s academic calendar. 

Aldana joined UC Davis in 2017 to serve as the inaugural Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Diversity with a law faculty appointment. She returned to full-time law teaching in 2020. Her research has focused on transitional justice, criminal justice reforms, and sustainable development in Latin America, as well as immigrant rights.  

Before arriving at UC Davis, Aldana was Associate Dean for Faculty Scholarship and a professor of law at McGeorge School of Law. She founded and directed McGeorge’s Inter-American Program, which trained bilingual and bicultural lawyers for transnational careers or to work with the growing Latino population in the United States. Before McGeorge, she was a professor at the William S. Boyd School of Law, UNLV. Aldana is also a member of the American Law Institute and serves as Chair of the Latin America & Caribbean Council of the Rule of Law Initiative of the American Bar Association. 

In April 2021, Aldana delivered the lecture “‘Citizenism’ and the Shackles of Borders” as part of UC Davis Law’s Racial Justice Speaker Series. Her talk critically analyzed contemporary immigration law and policy to argue that the U.S. racial justice project must embrace the dismantling of citizenism as central to the transformation of the United States into a more just nation.