At Emory Law, diversity is more than a buzzword

By Maria Lameiras | Emory Magazine | Feb. 27, 2014

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More than fifty years after winning a landmark Georgia Supreme Court decision that allowed Emory the legal right to integrate, the concept of diversity is much broader than it has been in the past. istockphoto.com

In 1962, when Emory won the legal right to integrate through a landmark Georgia Supreme Court decision, diversity seemed as simple as black and white.

More than fifty years later, diversity goes far beyond race as universities struggle to attract the best students from all backgrounds.

Ben Johnson Jr. (1936, College and 1940, Law) was dean of Emory's School of Law when he and then-Emory general counsel Henry Bowden Sr. (1932, College and 1934, Law) argued the case that integrated Georgia's private universities, successfully suing to overturn restrictive provisions of the state's constitution.

The School of Law is proud of the legacy the case carries, and diversity among law classes is a priority for Dean Robert Schapiro. However, he says, the concept of diversity is much broader than in the past.

"Diversity has many dimensions—race, gender, socioeconomic background, international origin, values, beliefs," Schapiro says. "People approach issues from different perspectives according to their histories in general, and that is especially so in law school. Here our students examine important issues of public policy, and discussions are characterized by divergent opinions. Education is better when undertaken in that environment."

Ethan Rosenzweig, assistant dean of admission at Emory Law, said the school is "decades ahead" of other schools in terms of diversity.

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