Washington, D.C. (December 13, 2023) — Angela Onwuachi-Willig, Dean and Ryan Roth Gallo Professor of Law at Boston University School of Law and Michael Pinard, Francis & Harriet Iglehart Professor of Law and Faculty Director of the Gibson-Banks Center for Race and the Law at University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law, are the recipients of the Michael A. Olivas Award for Outstanding Leadership in Diversity and Mentoring in the Legal Academy, a joint recognition by five sections of the Association of American Law Schools (AALS).
“I am beyond honored to receive this award,” Onwuachi-Willig said. “I am blessed to be among the hundreds of law faculty of color who have benefited from Michael Olivas’s generous mentorship, courageous actions in working to improve the lives of people from too often undervalued groups, and his excellent example as a human being, teacher, leader, and advocate. That I have the privilege of following Dean Kevin Johnson, the award’s inaugural recipient and the most important mentor whom I have had in my career in academia, in receiving the Olivas award just makes what is already a phenomenal honor extra special.”
“I am tremendously honored to receive this award, which recognizes both the indelible legacy and urgent mandate that Michael A. Olivas left for us all,” Pinard said. “I am especially thankful and humbled to share this award with Dean Onwuachi-Willig, a mighty trailblazer in her own right.”
The annual award serves as a memorial to Michael A. Olivas, who died in April 2022 after an illustrious career in law, most recently as William B. Bates Distinguished Chair in Law Emeritus at the University of Houston Law Center and the Director of the University of Houston’s Institute for Higher Education Law & Governance. In 2018, Olivas was awarded the AALS Triennial Award for Lifetime Service to Legal Education and the Law, the association’s highest honor.
The Olivas Award is presented by the AALS Sections on Civil Rights, Education Law, Immigration Law, Minority Groups, and Student Services. It is awarded annually to the faculty member or members who most vividly exemplify Olivas’s devotion to mentoring junior and aspiring faculty from underrepresented communities and promoting diversity, inclusion, and equity in the legal academy.
Dean Onwuachi-Willig has led Boston University School of Law since 2018. She is a prominent legal scholar and expert in critical race theory, employment discrimination, and family law. Her articles have appeared in leading law journals such as the Yale Law Journal, Harvard Law Review, Virginia Law Review, Georgetown Law Journal, Vanderbilt Law Review, and more. Onwuachi-Willig was a co-recipient of the AALS Impact Award in 2020 and the Society of American Law Teachers (SALT) M. Shanara Gilbert Human Rights Award in 2022 for her work on the AALS Law Deans Antiracist Clearinghouse Project.
Professor Pinard has taught at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law since 2002. His scholarship is focused broadly on race and the criminal legal system, including criminalization; policing; incarceration; criminal records; and the interconnected harms of the criminal and civil legal systems. Pinard is well known for his work to improve the criminal justice system nationally and locally. In 2011, Pinard was honored as a Champion of Change by the White House for his work on behalf of individuals with criminal records. Currently, he serves as a commissioner with the Maryland Access to Justice Commission and a member of the Maryland Equitable Justice Collaborative.
“Angela Onwuachi-Willig and Michael Pinard both embody Michael Olivas’s commitment to creating a new generation of diverse leaders in the legal academy,” said Fatma Marouf, chair of the Olivas Award Selection Committee and Professor at Texas A&M University School of Law “Their mentorship has had a life-changing impact on countless students and aspiring academics. Through their leadership and innovative endeavors, they have made the legal academy a more inclusive environment. By lifting up underrepresented voices, they have transformed the discourse of legal academia and clinical legal education. And, they have done all of this while writing incredibly impactful scholarship on racial and social justice.”
The selection committee for the award also included Miranda Johnson (Loyola University Chicago School of Law), Patricia Jones Winograd (LMU Loyola Law School), and Jefferey Dodge (Penn State Dickinson Law). The award will be presented in person at an awards ceremony at the AALS Annual Meeting in Washington, DC on January 4, 2024.
The Association of American Law Schools (AALS), founded in 1900, is a nonprofit association of 176 member and 18 fee-paid law schools. Its members enroll most of the nation’s law students and produce the majority of the country’s lawyers and judges, as well as many of its lawmakers. The mission of AALS is to uphold and advance excellence in legal education. In support of this mission, AALS promotes the core values of excellence in teaching and scholarship, academic freedom, and diversity, including diversity of backgrounds and viewpoints, while seeking to improve the legal profession, to foster justice, and to serve our many communities–local, national and international.