Memorandum April 17, 2020
- AU Community
- Daniel J. Myers, Provost
- Washington College of Law (WCL) Leadership
Dear AU Community,
I am writing to share the news that Camille Nelson, Dean of the Washington College of Law (WCL) and Professor of Law, intends to leave her position on July 31 to become Dean of the William S. Richardson School of Law at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. This is a wonderful professional and personal opportunity for Camille, as she returns to lead an academic community where she previously served. Camille has been an outstanding partner and friend, not just to me but to our entire community. Her passionate advocacy on behalf of our students and our faculty is a hallmark of great academic leadership. While we will miss Camille, we are grateful for all her contributions, and we wish her the best in her new endeavor!
WCL is such an important and unique part of American University’s history and educational mission. It was the first law school in the world founded by women; the first to have a woman dean; and the first to graduate an all-female law school class. In four years leading WCL, Camille has exemplified these outstanding traditions of pioneering leadership and service to the community. Indeed, WCL has built on its storied history under Camille’s leadership. During her tenure, the WCL rose 10 places in the U.S. News & World Report rankings and now has 3 programs ranked in the top 5 nationally (Clinical Legal Education #2, International Law #4, Trial Advocacy #4).
During Camille’s tenure, the law school launched several successful programs, including Health Law and Policy (now ranked 11th in the nation); Tech, Law and Security; Business Law Bootcamp; and the Master of Legal Studies. To provide students with quality bar passage support, Camille established the Office of Academic Excellence. As a result, the law school is celebrating its highest pass rate for first-time takers in more than five years on the July 2019 exam. In 2018, she launched the Office of Online Education to position WCL for growth in online learning opportunities and to support the training of faculty and administrators in the use of online teaching tools. In an effort to better communicate with all of the law school’s constituencies, Camille oversaw the completion of a website redesign and re-launch of the alumni magazine The Advocate. She has furthered the law school’s commitment to diversity and inclusion through the creation of the position of Assistant Dean for Diversity, Inclusion, and Affinity Relations and has supported the importance of diversity, inclusion, and empowerment of students and staff.
Camille’s efforts also led to substantial enhancements in both the quality of WCL students as measured by entering statistics and professional opportunities available when they graduate. The past five years saw a four-point improvement in median LSAT and an increase in median GPA for incoming students. Employment for WCL students 10 months after graduation for the class of 2018 increased by 5 percent over the previous year, and employment at graduation grew by 7 percent.
It is essential that we continue to build on this momentum, even as we confront unprecedented challenges driven by COVID-19. We are dedicated to a seamless transition, and we will be providing updates about WCL’s interim leadership and the search process for Camille’s permanent successor in the near term. These steps will be taken in accordance with the WCL faculty manual.
Camille’s dedication and vision produced an incredible legacy and we are going to build on her progress as WCL enters the next era of educating pioneering legal practitioners and changemakers who use the law to serve our world. And while COVID-19 makes for a unique transition moment, we will celebrate Camille before her departure. Please join me in thanking her for her distinguished service and leadership. Her contributions to our community will be felt for years to come and her work is an example for us all. She will truly be missed!
Daniel J. Myers
Provost and Chief Academic Officer