“It’s important to teach our students that the interpretation of the law is just that: an interpretation,” says UConn School of Law Dean Eboni S. Nelson in a wide-ranging UConn 360 interview, where she touches on everything from recent Supreme Court cases to her vision for the future of Connecticut’s only public law school.
Nelson, the first Black person to serve as dean of the law school on a permanent basis, came to UConn in July 2020, one year before the school’s 100th anniversary, and immediately began work on new initiatives, ranging from the expansion of the Master of Laws program to the establishment of the Constance Belton Green Diversity Fund to support racial and social justice initiatives.
With public service a focus of her career, Nelson tells UConn 360 that her goals for the law school include creating more opportunities for students to engage in community service and pro bono work while also making sure the school stays on top of new developments in the legal field, ranging from artificial intelligence to cyber security.
In the interview, Nelson also discusses the U.S. Supreme Court, from an anticipated ruling on race-conscious admissions practices in higher education to the growing public perception, measured in opinion polls, that the Court’s decisions are increasingly determined by politics rather than legal reasoning.
“It’s really unfortunate,” Nelson says. “The Supreme Court, in particular, is supposed to be above politics.”
While federal judges and Supreme Court Justices would likely disagree that the courts have become overtly politicized, Nelson says, public confidence in the courts is an essential part of their efficacy.
“Perception matters,” she says.
With major decisions this term expected on everything from college admissions to whether Internet service providers can be held liable for algorithms that recommend content like videos created by terrorist groups, one thing is clear from speaking with Dean Nelson: UConn Law will be ready to teach and engage regardless of what decisions may come.
Listen to the episode here: