Black Man to Become Dean of the Nation’s Oldest Law School

A. Benjamin Spencer will be the next dean of the William and Mary Law School in Williamsburg, Virginia, effective July 1. Spencer will also serve as a Chancellor Professor of Law.

Professor Spencer will be William & Mary’s first African-American dean of any school at the university. Thomas Jefferson founded William & Mary Law School in 1779. It is the oldest law school in the United States.

Spencer currently serves as the Justice Thurgood Marshall Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of Virginia School of Law. He has been a member of the UVA faculty since 2014. Professor Spencer recently completed a year as the Bennett Boskey Visiting Professor of Law at Harvard Law School.

Before joining the faculty at the University of Virginia, Professor Spencer served as director of the Francis Lewis Law Center and associate dean for research at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia. His teaching and scholarship focus on civil procedure, federal civil litigation, and military law.

“It was not until the hiring committee from William & Mary approached me back in 2003 that I gave any thought to becoming a law professor. I am tremendously excited that after all these years, I am finally able to join this wonderful community of impactful scholars,” Professor Spencer said. “I am particularly enthusiastic about the university’s commitment to a whole-person, whole-university approach to learning and its commitment to understanding and meeting the most pressing needs of our time.”

Professor Spencer is a graduate of Morehouse College in Atlanta and Harvard Law School. He also earned a master’s degree in criminal justice policy from the London School of Economics and Political Science as a Marshall Scholar.

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