Meet the New Associate Deans: New Role for Academic and Student Success, Plus Inclusion & Diversity, Experiential Education
The Law School announces three associate dean appointments, which went into effect July 1, bringing new faces to positions that are designed to support students and their educational experience in a multitude of ways.
The new roles include an exciting transition for Associate Dean Karen Porter, who has served as the inaugural Arthur Pinto & Stephen Bohlen Associate Dean of Inclusion & Diversity since her appointment in January 2020. Now, Porter has been named the Associate Dean for Academic and Student Success, another new dean-level role that will focus on supporting students and leading schoolwide efforts to guide students through their Law School experience. While academic success is not a new focus for the Law School, this is the first time an associate dean has been dedicated to the effort.
“We want to have the success of our students at the center of everything we do,” Porter said. “It’s not just academic success in the sense of what and how students are doing in the classroom, but really a more holistic approach to student success that includes broader aspects of what it means to succeed in law school and in the profession. Over the course of their studies, students often change their goals and adjust their expectations about what it means to carve out a space for themselves in the legal profession. And that can be really challenging, particularly for first-generation students who might not have a clear idea of what a career path looks like.”
Even before Porter officially started her new role, she helped enlist Linda Feldman, Associate Professor of Legal Writing Emeritus, who is serving as the Director of Bar Preparation and Adjunct Professor of Law. Feldman, a pioneering force in academic success programming at Brooklyn Law, launched a new bar prep offering this summer that has included popular faculty-led workshops on topics such as Constitutional Law with Professor Alice Ristroph and Contracts with Professor Michael Gerber. Other pivotal members of the team are Assistant Professors of Academic Success Cherie N. Brown and Flora Midwood, who also serves as the Assistant Director of the Academic Success Program, and Assistant Professor of Legal Writing Meg Holzer.
Stepping in to fill Porter’s role of Associate Dean of Inclusion & Diversity is Professor Joy Kanwar, who teaches legal writing courses at Brooklyn Law School. Her recent scholarship explores questions about inclusion and exclusion in immigration and citizenship law through historical and narrative lenses.
Kanwar said she is excited to follow in the footsteps of Porter, who did a “phenomenal” job and enlisted the community to take ownership in the school’s diversity and inclusion efforts.
“I'm just generally motivated by community building and by making the student experience as positive as it can be for everybody,” Kanwar said. “The norm of the law school experience, or what we assume law school is going to be, is not very inclusive of all communities. So, my overall goal is to make the school more welcoming—even incrementally—and building a sense of belonging among our community.”
Some of that sense of community “and the grace we gave each other,” was lost during the COVID-19 pandemic and one of her initial goals is to lead efforts to restore it, Kanwar said.
“My experience has always been that the students care a lot about our community, and I want us to be able to do well by our students and by our staff and by our faculty,” Kanwar said.
As part of those efforts, she has organized a Town Hall on July 10 to discuss the impact of the recent Supreme Court ruling on affirmative action in higher education. Kanwar is also working with Ruth Bader Ginsburg Professor of Law Susan Herman to bring greater awareness to Native American and indigenous law within the school’s curriculum in the upcoming year.
Also taking on a new role is Professor Susan Hazeldean, who was named the new Associate Dean of Experiential Education, a leadership position long held by Professor Stacy Caplow, who launched the school’s first in-house clinic in 1976 and expanded it over nearly five decades. (Caplow will continue to teach classes).
Hazeldean, who is the founding director of the LGBTQ Advocacy Clinic, credits Caplow for building Brooklyn Law School’s clinical education program into one that is nationally renowned and said she is “honored” and “humbled” to step into a role that is so important to the Law School community.
“Our students are passionate and dedicated; they want a chance to build their practical skills while they're still in law school, which is what experiential education is all about,” Hazeldean said. “Our in-house clinical program is second to none, and I feel so lucky to work with such a diverse and amazing range of talented scholars and teachers every day. We also have wonderful adjunct professors who contribute to our program in a number of ways, both in our skills courses, and also in teaching externships and hybrid clinics that, again, give students a chance to go out into our local community and build their skills.”
One immediate plan she has is to expand the clinics program with a new offering. Professor Aissatou Barry, who was newly hired as Assistant Professor, will be starting a new civil clinic for eviction prevention.
“It’s going to be an incredible opportunity for our students,” Hazeldean said. “Professor Barry is doing cutting-edge work protecting the basic rights of New Yorkers to safe, secure housing.”