Native American Law Expert Named
to Head Law School
Nell Jessup Newton, one of the nation's leading experts on Native American law, has been named the first woman dean of the University of Connecticut School of Law.
Newton, dean of the University of Denver College of Law, will join UConn on Aug. 1 to succeed Hugh Macgill, who is stepping down after 10 years as dean.
"I am delighted that we were able to attract a legal educator of Nell Jessup Newton's caliber to our law school," says President Philip E. Austin. "She brings an exceptional combination of vision, experience, and national standing and I am confident that she will be an excellent dean."
Newton says the UConn position is exciting to her because "The law school has had extremely stable and effective leadership and is blessed with a faculty who excel both in teaching and scholarship. It will be a great honor to be part of such a distinguishe d community."
Newton says the school, one of the 20 best public law schools in the nation, has an impressive student body and a loyal alumni following.
"I look forward to working to strengthen the ties between the law school and its alumni and to build the law school's endowment to provide the resources the school will need to achieve its potential to become one of the top 10 public law schools in the nation," she says.
Newton received a J.D. with distinction from the University of California Hastings College of the Law, where she was a member of the Order of the Coif and managing editor of the law review, and a bachelor's degree from the University of California at Berkeley, where her interdisciplinary major in humanities focused on ancient Greek language and anthropology.
Newton worked at California Indian Legal Services after her first year of law school, and that, she says, sparked her life-long interest in Indian law and policy.
"Working with Indian people and discovering how much their lives were defined, protected and inhibited by federal law inspired me to write my law review comment on an issue that is now the subject of a multi-million, perhaps billion, dollar lawsuit: the mismanagement of Indian tribal trust funds," Newton says.
She is the author of numerous papers on American Indian law, has testified before Congress on Indian affairs, is the co-author of a textbook, American Indian Law, and is the editor of a revision of the only treatise in the field, The Handbook of Federal Indian Law.
She will continue her work on updating the handbook revision and hopes to establish a program in Indian law at the law school.
"Connecticut is home to several Indian tribes at the forefront in developing tribal institutions. I know some of the very able attorneys working with the tribes and believe there is a unique opportunity to build ties between the tribes and the law school," she says.
"Ms. Newton is the ideal candidate for the UConn deanship," says Interim Chancellor Fred J. Maryanski. "She is an experienced dean, has excellent credentials and brings with her a
passion for teaching and the advancement of learning."
Prior to becoming dean at the University of Denver, Newton was on the faculty at American University in Washington, D.C.
Newton is active in the Association of American Law Schools, where she is a member of the Diversity Task Force, the Law School Admissions Council and the American Bar Association Section of Legal Education and Admission to the Bar. She is a founding member of the DC/Maryland/Virginia/West Virginia Women Law Professors Group and a member of the Federal Bar Association Indian Law Section.
Karen A. Grava