You are here: American University President Announcements February 14, 2018 Memo

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Memorandum February 14, 2018

AU Community
Sylvia M. Burwell, President
Appointment of Traevena Byrd as General Counsel

I am pleased to announce that I have appointed Traevena Byrd, to become vice president and general counsel, effective April 9, 2018.

Ms. Byrd will serve as a member of the president’s cabinet and chief legal advisor to the university’s executive officers and board. In the role of general counsel, she will provide, manage, and coordinate all legal services for the university.

Currently, she is the vice president for legal affairs & human resources and general counsel at Towson University in Towson, Maryland. As Towson’s chief legal officer, she manages the university’s legal affairs, serves as legal advisor to the president and university executive officers, and acts as the liaison to the Maryland Office of the Attorney General.

Emerging as the top candidate in a national search, Ms. Byrd has deep experience advising universities, an impressive record of working with students, faculty, and staff, and nationally recognized expertise on many of the most important issues facing higher education today, most notably in the areas of diversity, equity, and inclusion and free expression. Ms. Byrd’s authenticity and direct communication style, in addition to her expertise, will make her an excellent leader of our legal department and an important addition to the AU leadership team.

Ms. Byrd’s career in higher education began at the University of Iowa, where she served as an assistant director of admissions, and was followed by her appointment as the director of the Commission on the Status of African-Americans for the State of Iowa Department of Human Rights. She also worked as associate general counsel at Ithaca College in Ithaca, New York, where she regularly taught a civil rights seminar as an adjunct faculty member.

She received both her BA and JD from the University of Iowa. She is a past member of the Board of Directors for the National Association of College and University Attorneys (NACUA) and currently serves on the accreditation commission for the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators (IACLEA). She is a frequent presenter on the subjects of inclusion and free expression, and currently serves as a member of the steering committee for the American Council on Education’s Campus Inclusion and Free Expression Project and as the chair of NACUA’s 2018 conference on Free Speech and Campus Unrest.

Ms. Byrd is also a frequent presenter for a variety of higher education associations, including NACUA, American Council on Education (ACE), National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO), and Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education (NASPA).

I wish to thank Bethany Bridgham for serving as acting general counsel since July 5, 2017. Her legal expertise and institutional knowledge of AU have been invaluable to me and the Board of Trustees. She will return to her role as senior associate general counsel representing the university on matters ranging from real property, international agreements, DC regulations, and governance and higher education.

Please join me in welcoming Traevena Byrd to AU as our next vice president and general counsel.