The University of Hawaii’s law school welcomes its first female dean

The University of Hawaii’s law school welcomes its first female dean

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Camille Nelson became interested in law as a child. She's still fascinated at how it intersects with nearly every aspect of life.

“That’s what I say to my kids. Whatever you care about can be furthered by and enhanced by knowledge and understanding of the law,” she said.

Nelson is the new dean of the University of Hawaii William S. Richardson School of Law and the first female to serve in that position.

She succeeds Avi Soifer who was the school’s dean for 17 years.

"He's done some great work here obviously and built an incredible community to advance the school," she said.

Nelson earned law degrees from the University of Ottawa and Columbia Law School.

She was dean at the Washington College of Law, and the first woman of color to be dean at Suffolk University Law School.

“In the last few years we’ve seen more and more people of color and non-traditional candidates come into the space of deaning and higher-ed leadership,” she said.

Nelson was born in Jamaica. She is married and has three children. She has received numerous honors and awards. One publication named her one of the Top 35 women in higher education.

"I feel like I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing and my title happens to be Dean and Professor of Law," she said.

UH law school graduated its first class in 1973. Unlike every other group of students, this year’s crop of future lawyers will deal with COVID-19 concerns and restrictions and rely heavily on online learning.

"I think this is what I keep calling the new abnormal, at least for awhile," Nelson said.

She is no stranger to the law school. She taught there as a visiting professor and during summer sessions in the Ulu Lehua Program.

Now she's in the driver's seat.

“My job is to listen and learn in order to lead us forward. It’s an absolute privilege to be here. I’m thrilled,” she said.

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