Building on an intensive focus, especially in the last two years, the School of Law’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion is moving forward with new leadership and growing resources.
Tolulope Odunsi, who has served as assistant dean for diversity, equity, and inclusion since the spring of 2019, has spearheaded numerous DEI initiatives during that time. Her work will be carried forward by Professor Luis Chiesa, recently named vice dean for diversity, equity and inclusion, so that Odunsi can continue to teach in the Legal Analysis, Writing and Research (LAWR) program and devote more time to her academic scholarship. Professor Chiesa will have support from Program Coordinator Amber Melvin ’13, as the DEI office continues to evolve and expand.
“I am grateful to Tolu for her leadership and her tireless dedication and tenacity,” says Dean Aviva Abramovsky. “She stepped forward to lead our DEI initiatives and has steadily built the foundation for our expanded, strategic approach to cultivating and maintaining a diverse and inclusive law school environment.”
With both hands-on programming and strategic planning, Odunsi has shaped the law school’s response to inequities in our society. Among her achievements:
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Odunsi will continue to be involved as a member of the law school’s faculty-led Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee. She also continues to mentor high school students she has met while speaking at Buffalo Public Schools about the path to law school.
She’s most proud, she says, of the student support she was able to provide, as well as the relationships she helped build with the legal community and Western New York as a whole. But she’s looking forward to continuing to teach—LAWR instructors shepherd a cohort of close to 30 first-year students through two semesters of intensive research and writing—and to pursue her own scholarship. Odunsi has published on employment discrimination issues and is looking to write more extensively on anti-discrimination efforts in higher education and in the workplace. Currently, she’s working on an article on the CROWN Act, which would prohibit race-based discrimination because of hair texture or style.