May 20, 2021

Rutgers Law Co-Dean David Lopez, who oversees the law school in Newark, announced on Wednesday, May 19, that he is stepping down from his position as of June 30.

Lopez, who became dean in 2018, will remain a professor at the law school. Vice Dean Rose Cuison-Villazor, will serve as interim dean while the law school undertakes a search for a new dean. Cuison-Villazor will become the first Asian-American woman dean at Rutgers Law and the first Filipina-American dean of any law school in the United States. 

Lopez, who announced his decision to law school faculty on Wednesday, talked about his desire to spend more time with family, after losing both of his parents within the last year, “When you lose your parents it’s a contemplation of your own mortality and how many minutes you have.  For everything there is a season, a time for every purpose.  I made the decision a couple of months ago to step down as the dean to be able to be there for the people who need me.”He noted that his extended family is in Arizona, Boston and Mexico, which are all far from New Jersey, where the law school is located.

In a message to the Rutgers University-Newark community, Chancellor Nancy Cantor and Provost Ashwani Monga remarked on the good work Lopez achieved during his tenure at Rutgers Law, “David’s leadership has been pivotal in advancing the school’s groundbreaking publicly engaged scholarship on everything from child advocacy and corporate governance to desegregating schools, expanding the rights of immigrants, advocating for equitable growth, and achieving algorithmic justice; setting a new standard for engagement with alumni, especially in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the school’s signature Minority Student Program; and the pursuit of racial justice through the law school faculty’s adoption of a resolution last year to develop anti-racist curricular reforms, responding forthrightly to America’s rising consciousness of the need to transform our institutions. We could not have hoped for a more forceful advocate and capable ally in all of these areas, which are as critical to our institutional identity and priorities as they are to the law school’s.” 

She also acknowledged Lopez’ collegiality and partnership with other leaders, saying, “We could not have hoped for a more supportive colleague than David for his fellow deans at Rutgers-Newark and a complementary partner to Co-Dean Kim Mutcherson in Camden in leveraging and building on the aggregate strengths of Rutgers Law School’s two locations.”

Prior to coming to Rutgers Law, Lopez was the longest-serving General Counsel of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and worked for the Washington D.C. based firm of Outten and Golden. me the new Co-Dean of Rutgers Law School in Newark. As General Counsel of the EEOC, Lopez led the litigation program for the nation’s primary administrative agency charged with enforcing federal employment anti-discrimination laws and oversaw 15 regional attorneys and a staff of more than 325 people. Prior to joining the EEOC, he was a senior trial attorney with the Civil Rights Division Employment Litigation Section of the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington D.C. Previously, he was an associate with Spiegel & McDiarmid LLP in Washington D.C.

Cuison-Villazor has been serving as Vice Dean of Rutgers Law School in Newark since July 2019. She is also the founding Director of the Center for Immigration Law, Policy and Justice at Rutgers Law School.  

“I am excited to lead Rutgers Law School in Newark this year as we return to campus and our classrooms,” she said. “I am looking forwarding to continuing the Law School's role in ensuring Rutgers University-Newark as an anchor institution and helping to meet the needs of the Newark community.

Cuison-Villazor teaches, researches and writes in the areas of immigration and citizenship law, property law, Asian Americans and the law, equal protection law and critical race theory. She teaches Property Law, Immigration Law, Critical Race Theory, Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders and the Law, Estates in Land, and Introduction to U.S. Law and recently testified before a Congressional committee on land rights. She earned her LLM from Columbia Law School, JD from American University and BA from the University of Texas.

She said, “I am eager to co-lead with Kim Mutcherson and continue Rutgers Law School's legacy in providing an excellent and inclusive academic environment that is rooted in social justice.”

Rutgers University will formally launch a national search soon, which will involve faculty members in the selection process, aiming to have a permanent Co-Dean in place by the beginning of Fall 2022.

Rutgers Law Media Contact:
Shanida Carter

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