UC Davis reappoints Kevin R. Johnson as Dean of the School of Law
Kevin R. Johnson has been reappointed as Dean of UC Davis School of Law, a position he has held since 2008. Johnson currently is the longest-serving dean on campus.
Johnson’s “deep knowledge of the many facets of law and legal education, his vision, his energy, and his passionate devotion to advancing excellence at UC Davis will continue to be invaluable assets in the years ahead,” Ralph J. Hexter, UC Davis Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor, wrote in a letter announcing Johnson’s reappointment by Chancellor Gary S. May.
“Under Kevin’s leadership, and building upon the excellence of the faculty and students of King Hall, the stature of the Law School and UC Davis have been greatly enhanced.”
The School of Law has achieved “points of pride deserving of the highest praise,” Hexter wrote, noting Johnson’s commitment to diversity, which has helped King Hall faculty and students reach key milestones.
During Johnson’s service as Dean, UC Davis School of Law became the only leading American law school with a “majority-minority” faculty. The School of Law also ranks in the national top 10 in student diversity, according to the latest U.S.News & World Report ratings. It is the only law school in U.S. News’ overall top 40 to crack the top 10 in diversity. The law school’s King Hall Outreach Program (KHOP) and First Generation Advocates initiative help facilitate greater access to education for underrepresented communities.
“It is a privilege and an honor to serve as dean of a law school named after Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., with a majority-minority faculty committed to excellence and diversity, and a special community of students, staff, alums, faculty, and friends,” Johnson said. “I thank that community, as well as Chancellor May and Provost Hexter, for the opportunity.”
Recent faculty hires have furthered King Hall’s tradition of robust scholarship, with faculty members publishing in leading law journals including the Yale Law Journal, Stanford Law Review, Columbia Law Review and NYU Law Review. UC Davis School of Law ranks in the top 25 in U.S. News’ peer-reputation category.
The law school founded the Aoki Center for Critical Race and Nation Studies, the California Environmental Law & Policy Center, the California International Law Center, the Water Justice Clinic and the Tribal Justice Project under Johnson’s stewardship.
Johnson helped lead a major capital campaign to renovate King Hall, and the building improvements were completed in 2010. He also has spearheaded continued, highly successful fund-raising efforts, helping to increase the law school’s visibility, and alumni pride and engagement, through prominent public events at King Hall such as sessions of the California Supreme Court, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and California Court of Appeals. The School of Law has the highest participation in alumni giving of any campus unit.
An internationally recognized scholar in the fields of immigration law and policy, refugee law, and civil rights, Johnson often is cited in immigration court cases. Leading media outlets regularly seek his insights on immigration law in the Trump era. With Johnson’s strong support, King Hall’s law clinics have bolstered their own profiles, advocating for some of the most vulnerable participants in the legal system, from prisoners in civil rights cases to immigrants without access to legal services.
Johnson, Mabie-Apallas Professor of Public Interest Law, and professor of Chicana/o Studies, joined the UC Davis law faculty in 1989, and received the law school’s Distinguished Teaching Award in 1993. He became Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in 1998.
A prolific writer, Johnson has published extensively on immigration law and civil rights. His 1999 book How Did You Get to be Mexican? A White/Brown Man’s Search for Identity, was nominated for the 2000 Robert F. Kennedy Book Award. His 2011 book, Immigration Law and the US-Mexico Border, received the Latino Literacy Now’s International Latino Book Award for Best Reference Book. Johnson blogs at ImmigrationProf, and is a regular contributor on immigration for SCOTUSblog.
In addition to his academic writing, Johnson chronicles daily life at King Hall and the many events he attends off campus on the Dean’s Blog. He rarely misses lectures given by the law faculty, visiting scholars, alumni and students.
A magna cum laude graduate of Harvard Law School, where he served as an editor of the Harvard Law Review, Dean Johnson earned an A.B. in economics from UC Berkeley, graduating Phi Beta Kappa. After law school, he clerked for the Honorable Stephen Reinhardt of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and worked as an attorney at the international law firm of Heller Ehrman White & McAuliffe.
Johnson has served on the board of directors of Legal Services of Northern California since 1996, and as board president since 2003. He is a member of the American Bar Association Accreditation Committee, which recommends accreditation decisions for U.S. law schools. From 2006 to 2011, he served on the board of directors of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, the leading Mexican American civil rights organization in the United States.
Johnson will begin his third five-year term as Dean on July 1.