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Law School Dean to Step Down

By Janet Gilmore, Public Affairs
Posted August 25, 1999

Herma Hill Kay, who made national headlines when she was named the first woman dean of the School of Law in 1992, will step down from that post at the end of the 1999-2000 school year.

Kay, 65, said she has largely met her goals as dean and is looking forward to returning to teaching and scholarship.

"During my eight years as dean, we have strengthened our students' education, attracted outstanding legal scholars and made vast improvements to the law school building itself. The school is ready to further distinguish itself in the new century."

Before Kay became dean, she had already established herself as a leading scholar in family law and as a strong voice in the legal profession overall.

She co-wrote the state's much copied no-fault divorce act, which became law in 1970. A year later, the National Women's Political Caucus named her one of 10 women qualified for appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court. Last year, the National Law Journal named her among the 50 most influential female lawyers in the country and among the eight most influential in Northern California.

"Dean Herma Kay has been a strong, dynamic, and above all, principled leader during a very important and sometimes difficult period of Boalt's history,'" said Chancellor Berdahl. "Boalt is stronger and better because of her inspired leadership."

Under her watch as dean, the law school has faced a number of challenges that have drawn her into the forefront of the national debate regarding such issues as affirmative action.

For example, after the UC Regents' decision eliminated affirmative action in admissions at the University of California, and since the passage of Proposition 209, Kay has sought new methods to maintain a diverse student body at the law school while also complying with the new law.

Working with alumni, local bar associations and others, she stepped up efforts to aggressively recruit minority students.

Kay first came to Boalt Hall in 1960, the second woman ever to teach there.

Kay's last day as dean will be June 30, 2000. She plans to go on sabbatical during the 2000-2001 school year and resume work on her book on women law professors.

She will return to Boalt Hall to teach beginning fall 2001. Kay teaches family law, California marital property, conflict of laws and sex-based discrimination.

A search for Kay's successor is under way.


August 25 - 31, 1999 (Volume 28, Number 3)
Copyright 1999, The Regents of the University of California.
Produced and maintained by the Office of Public Affairs at UC Berkeley.
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