The Minority Student Program (MSP) at Rutgers Law School on the Newark campus received the 2022 American Bar Association’s (ABA) Dean Henry J. Ramsey, Jr. Diversity Award. According to the ABA Law Student Division, the award “recognizes excellence in activities that have contributed toward the achievement and advancement of women, minorities, persons with disabilities in the profession and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons.” ABA announced the honor in August at its annual meeting in Chicago.
The award is named after the late Henry J. Ramsey, Jr., former dean of the Howard University School of Law, who made a lifetime commitment to issues of inclusiveness and to increasing the quality of the practice and study of law. The ABA selected MSP for this prestigious award due to its “exemplary work ethic and dedication and its commitment to inclusiveness in the practice and study of law.”
“I am extremely proud that MSP received the 2022 Dean Henry J. Ramsey Jr. Diversity Award,” remarked Rutgers Law School Co-Dean Rose Cuison-Villazor. “This recognition from the ABA Law Student Division is a true testament to the excellent work that MSP has historically done and continues to do toward the achievement and advancement of our MSP Scholars.”
Clifford Dawkins, Assistant Dean and Director of the Minority Student Program, said, "In our 55-year history, this is the first time the MSP Family has received such a recognition from the ABA. What it means to us is that we are accomplishing precisely what we have been called to do—that is, assist our MSP Scholars with the process of aligning their legal pursuits with their individual purposes. We owe tremendous thanks to our exceptional Rutgers Law School student leaders, our beloved MSP Scholars, our fantastic alums, and our various partners and supporters for all you do to make this work inspiring and impactful."
ABA Representative and current Rutgers Law 2L student Mallory Olwig nominated MSP for the award even though she’s not a participant. She said, “As a woman and first-generation student, I feel strongly about the need for diversity in both our legal education and the legal profession as a whole. Though I am not a member of MSP, I appreciate the work it is doing to help advance students who are underrepresented in the legal field.”
Those contributions include MSP’s Upperclassmen Externship Program. Introduced in the 2021-2022 academic year, MSP-X helps upperclassmen and part-time students gain access to legal summer jobs and networking opportunities. Other programs lauded by the ABA include MSP’s Summer Orientation, Summer Internship program for first-year law students, and Legal Skills Study Group Fellowship. MSP also holds a Fall Match Day each year to pair first-year students with upperclassmen and/or alumni mentors.
“Without MSP, I wouldn’t have accomplished the success I have had so far in law school,” said Rutgers Law School Student Bar Association President Dalila Haden (RLAW ’23). “MSP has helped me gain confidence and has connected me with many great friends and mentors in the legal world. This award goes to show that our program’s support for minority identifying students makes a difference and deserves the utmost acknowledgment.”
MSP Assistant Director Lenore Pearson said, “MSP is both grateful and excited to receive this prestigious ABA award. Being recognized by our own students lets us know that we are doing a great job with supporting them, while continuing the gold standard of MSP.”
Born out of the Newark uprising and civil rights activism in 1968, MSP is a nationally acclaimed post-admissions program that serves students of any race or ethnicity who are members of groups that are underrepresented in the legal profession, and who have faced discrimination or overcome social and economic hardships. The program takes a proactive and interdepartmental approach to help students succeed in law school by offering legal skills development, academic support, alumni mentoring and networking, internships, and other opportunities.