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Diversity & Inclusion
Message from the Dean
Diversity and inclusion are core to the values of this school. Our aim is to train the next generation of leaders in the profession. It would be unthinkable to do so without taking into account the role that oppression has played in this nation’s history, the certainty that the next generation of leaders will be far more diverse than generations prior, and the reality that our alumni will lead in a far more multicultural environment than before. We cannot lead the profession without leading on issues of diversity and inclusion.
Let me emphasize the importance not just of diversity, but of inclusion. We are a community. No other law school provides as rich, challenging, and empowering a learning environment. It is essential that all of our students, no matter how they choose to identify, are able to access the remarkable opportunities that Yale provides. Every member of this community must be treated as a full and valued member.
Diversity is a broad term that encompasses many forms of difference, including race, ethnicity, class, religion, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, and ideology. To acknowledge this truth is not to equate them. The most daunting and important challenges we face, both as a society and as a school, stem from the powerful effects of past and present racial discrimination. We care deeply about our first-generation professionals, who have overcome income inequality and so many other obstacles to arrive here. Religious discrimination endures in this country and continues to demand our attention. Intellectual diversity is the lifeblood of any academic institution, especially in these highly polarized times, and we are delighted to have students and faculty with a wide array of political commitments. As a law school, we seek to address the core problem of inequality, while upholding and advancing these other important values.
I am particularly proud of the progress this school has made in the wake of the diversity report issued in 2016. The law school implemented thirty of the sixty recommendations before the report was even released. In the immediate wake of that report, our faculty admitted the five most diverse classes in its history. The 2020-2021 first-year class contains 52% students of color and 48% women. Notably, 24% of these students are the first in their families to attend graduate or professional school, and 11% are the first in their families to graduate from college. We have more than doubled the number of African-American faculty on the nonclinical side. The majority of our clinical faculty are now women and clinicians of color. We have created positions to support diversity efforts in our Dean of Students Office, our Admissions Office, and our Office of Alumni Affairs. There is now a standing committee of associate and assistant deans to address diversity issues going forward. For the first time in our history, our admissions application invites first-generation professionals to tell us not just how far they have gone, but how far they have come. And our walls boast not just portraits of illustrious alumni from our past, but photographs of the extraordinarily diverse and accomplished alumni from our present. There is more work to be done, to be sure, but this community stands ready to do it.
Heather Gerken, Dean and Sol & Lillian Goldman Professor of Law
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Yale Law School and Yale University have a number of policies and procedures in place to protect against discrimination in all its forms. These links offer information and support for our community members.
“ Diversity matters. It matters for how we learn. It matters for how we serve. And it matters for how we lead. A great law school must offer a rich, challenging, and inclusive learning environment both inside and outside the classroom.”
Dean and Sol & Lillian Goldman Professor of Law