Civil rights leader Deborah N. Archer will deliver the keynote address at the UConn School of Law’s 100th commencement on May 14, 2023.
Archer is president of the American Civil Liberties Union and an associate dean at the New York University School of Law, where she serves as co-director of clinical and advocacy programs, professor of clinical law, and co-faculty director of the Center on Race, Inequality and the Law.
“I’m delighted to announce that Dean Archer has accepted our invitation to speak at this momentous commencement,” Dean Eboni S. Nelson said. “She is a champion of justice and equity, and her contributions as a litigator, scholar and educator have placed her at the forefront of our most important national conversations. It is an honor and a privilege to welcome a leader of her stature back home to Connecticut to share her wisdom and insight with our community.”
Archer was raised in Windsor, Connecticut, and is a graduate of Smith College and Yale Law School. She clerked for Judge Alvin Thompson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut and served as a legal fellow at the ACLU and then as assistant counsel at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, where she litigated cases involving voting rights, employment discrimination and school desegregation.
Before joining the NYU faculty in 2018, Archer was a faculty member at New York Law School for 15 years. Her teaching and scholarship focus on civil rights and racial justice, and she regularly shares her expertise with national media outlets. She has served on the Board of Directors of the American Civil Liberties Union since 2007, and in 2021 was elected president of the organization, the first person of color to hold that position.
She is also a former chair of the American Association of Law School’s Section on Civil Rights and the Section on Minority Groups. She previously served as chair of the New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board, the nation’s oldest and largest police oversight agency.
“I’m honored by Dean Nelson’s invitation to speak at commencement,” Archer said. “I look forward to celebrating the graduates’ achievements and welcoming them to a profession that has become increasingly important in the struggle to pursue justice and preserve democracy.”