Black woman legal scholar named dean of Stetson College of Law

Michèle Alexandre was appointed this week as the first black dean of Stetson University College of Law in Gulfport

BY ROGER K. CLENDENING, Staff Writer

ST. PETERSBURG – Michèle Alexandre, a top 50 law professor and noted civil rights, gender and race scholar, was appointed this week after a nationwide search as the new dean of Stetson University College of Law in Gulfport, The Weekly Challenger learned Monday.

Alexandre, whose appointment announced Wednesday by Stetson officials becomes effective in June, is the first black dean at the Stetson College of Law, Florida’s first law school founded 119 years ago as part of Stetson University based in Deland, Fla.

“Dean Alexandre brings an extraordinary wealth of vision and experience to this position,” said Dr. Noel Painter, Stetson University executive vice president and provost in a statement made available to The Challenger. “Her work in civil rights and gender equity fit hand in glove with Stetson Law’s emphasis on social justice and global citizenship and our ongoing work for veterans, the elderly and the environment.”

“I am thrilled to serve as the next dean of the College of Law at Stetson University,” Alexandre told The Challenger in an email. “The College of Law is a leader in social justice, advocacy, legal writing and internationalization. Specifically, the law school is ranked number one in trial advocacy and number three in legal writing in the nation by U.S. News & World Report.

“I am delighted to continue this legacy of excellence, with a lens on social justice and innovative student-centered programming,” she continued. “I can’t wait to collaborate with all constituencies at the law school, with the university, as well as with alumni in Florida and across the nation, to continue this tradition of excellence!”

Alexandre, currently serving as associate dean for Faculty Development and Intellectual Life, professor of law and the Leonard B. Melvin Jr. Lecturer at the University of Mississippi School of Law, is the author of the civil rights textbook “The New Frontiers of Civil Rights Litigation” and “Sexploitation: Sexual Profiling and the Illusion of Gender.”

She was touted as one of Ebony magazine’s Top 100 Influential African Americans of 2013 and one of the 50 “Most Influential Minority Law Professors 50 Years of Age and Younger” by Lawyers of Color magazine in 2013.

Professor Alexandre joined the University of Mississippi (UM) in 2008 as an associate professor, from the University of Memphis School of Law. She is the first black valedictorian of Colgate University, where she graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree. She earned her Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School.

From 2008-15, Alexandre taught law school courses at the UM in Constitutional Law, Civil Rights, International Human Rights, Gender and the Law and Critical Race Theory, among others.

She also works on issues of sustainability and economic independence for small farmers in Mississippi’s Delta where, along with other rural Southern locations, farmers have lost or had stolen millions of acres of farmland and fought through lawsuits to garner their fair share of racially denied FHA-backed loans.

Moreover, since 2012, Alexandre has organized the National Race and Sustainability Conference hosted by UM. Conferees focus on issues of sustainability and social justice for poor populations of the rural south.

With her stellar qualifications, “Michele Alexandre will lead Stetson Law in educating the next generation of outstanding Stetson lawyers,” said Stetson University President Dr. Wendy B. Libby. “She is the right person to affirm and build on our reputation for excellence.”

Those qualifications include her extensive record of research presentations, publishing book chapters and law review articles that touch on gender and race, critical race theory and other issues to which Alexandre applies her critical eye and laser focus.

Examples include:

  • TEDx UM presentation on the power of language entitled “What’s in a Name? Who are you calling a B?” in Oct. 2015
  • Moderator and planning committee member for the conference “Rethinking Mass Incarceration” April 2014.
  • “Black Venus Hottentot Revisited: Gratuitous Use of Black Women’s Bodies and the Role of Race and Gender in Campus and Academic Reactions, book chapter in “Race to Injustice: Lessons Learned from the Duke University Lacrosse Players Rape Case”
  • Navigating the Topography of Inequality: A Proposal for remedying Past Geographic Segregation during Post-Disaster Rebuilding, book chapter in “Law, Property, and Society”
  • Law Review Articles: “Dance Halls,” “Masquerades,” “Body Protest” and “The Law: The Female Body as a Redemptive Tool Against Trinidad’s Gender-Biased Laws”
  • At the Intersection of Post-911 Immigration Practices and Domestic Policies: Can Katrina Serve as a Catalyst for Change?”
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