Remembering Former AALS President Michael A. Olivas

AALS remembers and honors the immense contributions Professor Michael A. Olivas made to legal education and the legal profession.

Olivas began his education in seminary school, eventually receiving a BA in English and philosophy, followed by an MA in English and a doctorate in higher education and organizational theory, both from The Ohio State University. He attended law school at Georgetown, received his JD in 1981, and joined the faculty of the University of Houston Law Center in 1982, where he remained for 38 years.

His advocacy on behalf of Latinx students and faculty changed the landscape of the legal academy; his work advancing opportunities for immigrant students and Dreamers and promoting affirmative action in many forms changed the legal landscape of Texas and beyond.

A former trustee of the College Board, Access Group (now AccessLex Institute), the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF), and the National Hispanic Cultural Center Foundation, among others, Olivas was also a board member at the Association for the Study of Higher Education, the Society of American Law Teachers, and the Law School Admissions Council. He served as general counsel for the American Association of University Professors and helped found the Houston Hispanic Bar Association.

Professor Olivas became involved with AALS early in his career, eventually serving on almost every committee at the national level at least once. He chaired the AALS Section on Education Law three times and the Section on Immigration Law twice. He received the 1992 Clyde Ferguson Award from the AALS Section on Minority Groups. He served on the AALS Executive Committee from 2005-07 and as AALS President in 2011. In 2018, he received the AALS Triennial Award for Lifetime Service to Legal Education and to the Law, the Association’s highest honor.

Professor Olivas will be remembered for the impact of the wealth of scholarship he generated, his passion for teaching both inside and outside the classroom, and his love of rock and roll. The legacy he leaves is demonstrated by the generations of Latinx lawyers and faculty of color whom he mentored, the institutions he pushed toward change, and the lasting difference he made in the American legal academy.

Read more about Professor Olivas in the AALS profile from his Triennial Award honor at