This Week in History


Martha Minow appointed Dean of Harvard Law School

July 1, 2009
Martha Minow
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Martha Minow, Harvard Law Commencement 2010. Image courtesy of chensiyuan.

The President and Fellows of Harvard University appointed Martha Minow, the Jeremiah Smith Jr. Professor of Law at Harvard, Dean of the Law School on July 1, 2009. She succeeded Elena Kagan, who was confirmed as Solicitor General of the United States on March 19, 2009, thus becoming the second Jewish woman to hold this office.

Minow is a distinguished legal scholar with a range of research interests including equality and inequality, human rights and transitional societies, law and social change, and religion and pluralism.

Martha Minow studied history at the University of Michigan, received a Masters in Education from Harvard, and her law degree from Yale. She joined the Harvard Law School faculty in 1981, and served as Acting Director of the Harvard University Program on Ethics and the Professions (now the Harvard's Edmond J. Safra Foundation Center for Ethics) from 1993-94 and again from 2000-01. She co-chaired the Law School's curriculum reform committee from 2003-06. In 2005, she was recognized with the School's Sacks-Freund Award for Teaching Excellence.

Minow's books include Making all the Difference: Inclusion, Exclusion and American Law (1990), Between Vengeance and Forgiveness: Facing History After Genocide and Mass Violence (1998), and Partners, Not Rivals: Privatization and the Public Good (2002). She has also published a number of articles, including "Should Religious Groups Ever Be Exempt From Civil Rights Laws?" (2007), "Tolerance in an Age of Terror" (2007), and "Living Up to Rules: Holding Soldiers Responsible for Abusive Conduct and the Dilemma of the Superior Orders Defense" (2007).

Minow is a member of the Independent International Commission on Kosovo and was a leader in the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees' "Imagine Coexistence" project. She also co-directed a multidisciplinary study of U.S. responses to recent immigrants, as well as a federally-sponsored center that supports access to the general curriculum for public school students with disabilities.

A founding board member of the Jewish Women's Archive, she chairs the board of the Charles H. Revson Foundation and has served on the boards of the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, the Covenant Foundation, Facing History and Ourselves, and the Iranian Human Rights Documentation Center.

See also: This Week in History for March 19, 2009, "Elena Kagan confirmed by U.S. Senate as first woman Solicitor General of the United States"; "Mazel Tov, Martha Minow", Jewesses with Attitude.

Sources: "Martha Minow named dean of Harvard Law School" Harvard University Gazette Online, June 11, 2009,;

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