Groundbreaking scholar marks trio of firsts at Rutgers Law School in Camden, N.J.

Kimberly Mutcherson is the first woman, first African-American and first LGBTQ person to be named co-dean of Rutgers Law School in Camden, N.J.

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Students scream to U.S. President Barack Obama while he speaks to students and attenders after receiving an honorary doctorate of laws during the 250th anniversary commencement ceremony at Rutgers University on May 15, 2016 in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Obama is the first sitting president to speak at the school's commencement. (Photo by Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images)

The Law School of Rutgers University’s Camden campus has made three kinds of history with the appointment of their new co-dean Kimberly Mutcherson, reports Diverse Issues in Higher Education.

“Kim Mutcherson is a collaborative leader who is positioned to build upon the momentum and energy of Rutgers Law,” said Rutgers-Camden Chancellor Phoebe Haddon. “She is passionate about the value of a legal education that prepares creative thinkers who are ready to be leaders in virtually every aspect of our society. She sees with clarity the role of the law in protecting individual rights.”

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Mutcherson, a bioethics and health law scholar, is the first woman, first African-American and first LGBT person to be named dean of the school. She co-founded the Women of Color Coalition at Columbia Law School and was co-coordinator of the Women of Color and the Law Conference.

Mutcherson, who served as the school’s vice dean since 2015, said that the three firsts are overwhelming and exciting. She was also stunned that in 2019 there are still so many firsts in the school’s leadership.

 “It means a tremendous amount for me to be able to play that role for younger women, for women of color, for LGBT folks, whoever feels they don’t see themselves represented,” Mutcherson told the publication. “In the classroom, I bring a really critical eye to the law, and I want students to feel like the law is not static, but that they can play a role as far as thinking about what’s fair, what’s just, what can be changed, what should be changed,”

“I like to be able to plant those seeds with people,” she added. Mutcherson has focused on issues of reproductive justice, assisted reproduction and abortion throughout her career.

Mutcherson will work with David Lopez, the co-dean of the Newark campus, who she said shares her commitment to social justice as well as adding a more diverse student body to the school.

 “On the one hand, I think we have lots [of] students of color, particularly women of color, who are interested in doing social justice work, but who also have that tug of financial responsibility,” Mutcherson noted. “There are lots of ways to satisfy that piece of yourself for those interested in social justice.”

“While it’s very hard to make changes in the full-time faculty … I was able to bring in more women and people of color as adjunct faculty,” she said. “It’s really critical to have folks in front of the classrooms that reflect the students who are sitting in front of them.”

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