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Marcia Sells

  • Harvard Law Affinity Groups Call for Diversity Committee

    November 27, 2018

    A coalition of 10 Harvard Law School student affinity groups called on Dean John F. Manning ‘82 to establish a Committee on Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity in a letter published Monday in the Harvard Law Record, the school’s student publication...Law School Dean of Students Marcia L. Sells wrote in an emailed statement that the school has created a number of new mentoring and advising initiatives in the past year such as a new online platform to help students connect with each other, a pre-orientation course for incoming first-year students, and a preferred lender program for student loans. “The Law School has long had an unwavering commitment to creating a strong and inclusive community that is diverse along multiple dimensions,” Sells wrote...Demarquin D. Johnson, a second-year Law student and one of the letter’s authors, said the Law School needs to do a better job understanding these issues.“Currently, the Law School is unable to recognize the importance of diversity, inclusion, and equity in every aspect of it,” Johnson said...Lauren D. Williams, a third-year Law student and president of the Black Law Students Association, said her organization’s main concern was the lack of a consistent faculty position dedicated to teaching critical race theory.

  • Harvard Law School Celebrates 65 Years of Female Graduates

    September 19, 2018

    Harvard Law School celebrated its bicentennial last year, but women were not fully included in that history for more than a century. The first class of women graduated from the school in 1953 — and 65 years later, Law School alumnae, students, and professors gathered last Friday and Saturday to celebrate the anniversary...Elizabeth Papp Kamali ’97, an assistant professor at the Law School, wrote in an email that she was “heartened” to see many of her former classmates and commented on the great advances women have made in the past 65 years.“While 1953 seems like shockingly recent history, one recurring theme throughout the celebration was the incredible strides women have made within the law in the last half century,” Kamali wrote...Rebecca F. Prager, a third-year Law student, said she wished that more students had been a part of this “amazing experience.”...Law School Dean of Students Marcia L. Sells wrote in a statement that “students were involved in every step of the process” and “forg[ed] connections” with many of the alumnae....Dean of the Law School John F. Manning ’82 also commented via a spokesperson on Celebration 65, calling it “inspiring.”

  • Class Marshals hold HLS banner at Commencement

    Camera-ready: Harvard Law School Commencement 2018

    May 25, 2018

    On Thursday, May 25, the Harvard Law School Class of 2018 received their diplomas at a ceremony on Holmes Field, and celebrated their graduation with family, friends, and picture-perfect New England weather.

  • HLS Makes Gender Neutral Bathroom More Accessible After Concern

    March 23, 2018

    Two gender neutral bathrooms at Harvard Law School that were previously inaccessible for most of the day will now have 24/7 access for students, after student groups raised the issue with administrators. The bathrooms, located on the second floor of Wasserstein Hall and near Harkness Cafe, were set behind two security doors that restricted student access when the cafe—which is open from 7 a.m. until 2 p.m. on weekdays—was closed...Lambda, the BGLTQ organization for Harvard law students, and the Queer and Trans People of Color organization brought the issue of restricted access to gender neutral bathrooms to administrators last fall. Gender neutral bathrooms are not limited to Wasserstein Hall. Both Han Park [`18], co-president of Lambda, and Dean of Students Marcia L. Sells said that there is access to other gender neutral bathrooms on campus and this was an isolated issue...In an email Monday, Sells wrote that temporary construction had been completed and the bathrooms were now accessible to students.

  • Campaign Against Racism Emerges at Harvard Law School

    March 5, 2018

    Race-related activism is re-emerging at Harvard Law School after a group of Law students wore pink armbands and hung posters last month to “stand in solidarity with people of color” following incidents of racism at Stanford Law School in the fall...First-year Law student Felipe D. Hernandez [`20], along with 11 other students who chose to remain anonymous, wrote a Feb. 2018 letter published in the Harvard Law Record arguing the Law School also struggles with racism...While the campaign was not officially organized by any formal affinity groups, president of the Harvard Black Law Students Association Jazzmin A. Carr [`18] praised it in an emailed statement, writing her group “stands in solidarity” with its organizers...The Harvard Law Record letter specifically criticized the structure of the financial aid system, the perception that the school is not geared toward public interest, and the first-year curriculum. Law School Dean of Students Marcia L. Sells emphasized the school takes these issues seriously and is working to improve the school’s culture and offerings. “The student financial services office advisory group is looking at the Loan Income Protection Plan. LIPP is something that is always being looked at,” Sells said in an interview last week, addressing criticisms of the school’s financial aid and public interest programs.

  • 10 Questions: Harvard Law’s dean of students began as a ballerina

    January 11, 2018

    When the Dance Theatre of Harlem was founded in 1969, it did more than prioritize African-American ballet dancers—it inspired them. That’s the effect the company had on Marcia Lynn Sells, a young dance student in Cincinnati. After attending a performance, she recalls seeing classical dancers who looked like her and who made her believe that she could achieve her dream of becoming a professional ballerina. In 1976, Sells moved to New York City and joined the Dance Theatre of Harlem under the direction of its co-founder, Arthur Mitchell. Fast-forward four decades and Sells is now dean of students at Harvard Law School, and her legal career has been as impressive and inspiring as any grand jeté.

  • Law School Establishes New Advising, Mentoring Programs

    November 13, 2017

    Harvard Law School is expanding its advising and mentoring programs four months after a school task force studying diversity and inclusion released a report calling for more advising opportunities on campus...John F. Manning ’82, the school’s recently appointed dean, said the Law School changed its policies to foster more organic and effective advising relationships between students and faculty. "The value added by mentoring and advising is not evenly distributed across the population and the propensity to seek mentoring and advising is not evenly distributed across the population,” Manning said...I. Glenn Cohen, a Law School professor who leads student reading groups, said he thinks the new advising program will help connect students with mentors and advisers more likely to share their specific interests and are more capable of answering their questions. “The reading group topics are connected to areas the students may be interested in, and by having the reading group instructors serve and be advisors for the students, we’d be more likely to get a match between what a particular student’s interest is and what the faculty member’s expertise is,” Cohen said...Marcia Sells, the Law School’s Dean of Students, said the school also instituted a program for students to take faculty out to dinner with all expenses paid by the school, similar to the College’s Classroom-to-Table program. In addition, administrators created a new peer advising program, she said. “We said to [the peer advisors], ‘You are a resource to them, plan a time to meet with them and talk—they didn’t have to take them out to lunch—but just to be there as a sounding board,’” Sells said...Sadie Hillier [`20], a first-year student at the Law School, wrote in an email that she thinks the new faculty advising program is very helpful. She wrote that she thinks she got “lucky” with her reading group and advisor, Law School professor Michael J. Klarman. “I've been provided with an abundance of mentorship opportunities in the last couple of months, and I have seized onto every single one,” Hillier said...Still, David Sackstein ’14 [`20], another first-year student who said he was in Cohen’s reading group, said that he fears some people may not get the resources they need despite the new programs. “There’s always, always, always going to be students who slip through the cracks,” Sackstein said.

  • ‘Okay to be White’ Stickers Crop Up at Harvard, Around Country

    November 3, 2017

    More than a dozen handmade stickers reading “It’s okay to be white” surfaced around Harvard Square Wednesday, prompting Cambridge officials to remove them and a Harvard Law School Dean to denounce the signs as “provocations intended to divide us.”...“It seems likely that these anonymous postings, made in the middle of the night, were provocations intended to divide us from one another,” Law School Dean of Students Marcia L. Sells wrote in an email sent to Law students Wednesday after the stickers were spotted at Wasserstein and Hastings Halls. “HLS will not let that happen here. We live, work, teach, and learn together in a community that is stronger, better, and deeper because of our diversity and because we encourage open, respectful, and constructive discourse,” Sells wrote.

  • Harvard Law to Launch Student Mental Health Survey

    October 25, 2017

    Harvard Law School is set to conduct a mental health survey of its students in November, part of a trend in which legal educators are playing a larger role in the well-being of their J.D.-hopefuls...“We recognize it as a first step in not only helping our students, but hoping to effectuate some change in reporting in the legal and professional community,” said Amanda Lee [`18], vice president of Harvard Law’s student government...Harvard law dean of students Marcia Sells said that the school on Nov. 1 would email a link to the online survey to just over 1,800 law students and give them about three weeks to respond...“What are the things we can do to provide more support or to understand when those points of challenge for students happen,” Sells said. “What can we do to support them?”...Student Government President Adrian Perkins [`18] said that he and Lee ran for their positions on a platform that included putting students first by creating a healthy environment at school. “The student body absolutely has been one of our priorities,” Perkins said.

  • Diversity Task Force Releases Draft Report

    September 25, 2017

    A University-wide task force focused on diversity and inclusion recommended Monday that central administrators work with individual schools to devise plans to ensure historically marginalized groups experience “full membership in the Harvard community.”...“I’m certain there will be some discussion as to what do these recommendations mean, but I think at least it’s a helpful starting point, as opposed to sort of throwing it up in the air and saying ‘we’d like the school to be like this,’ in a very vague way,’” Law School Dean of Students Marcia Sells, a task force member, said.

  • GALLERY: Harvard Law School celebrates Class Day 2017

    May 25, 2017

    Harvard Law School’s 2017 Class Day ceremony featured speeches by Sally Yates, former Deputy Attorney General of the United States, and Harvard Law School Professor Mark Wu, winner of the 2017 Albert M. Sacks-Paul A. Freund Award for Teaching Excellence.

  • Re-enacting the Vincent Chin Trial

    Reenacting the Vincent Chin Trial

    March 21, 2017

    As part of the Asian Pacific American Law Students Association’s (APALSA) annual conference, “Soft Power Hard Knockout: The Asian American Punch,” on Feb. 4, Harvard Law School presented a reenactment of the Vincent Chin trial, written by Judge Denny Chin of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

  • Law School Debuts New Title IX Training, Though Some Call for Improvement

    September 29, 2016

    Harvard Law School debuted a remodeled Title IX training for new students this fall in response to student criticisms and recommendations from a University-wide task force on sexual assault prevention. While Deputy Title IX Coordinator and Dean of Students Marcia L. Sells heralded the training as an improvement over previous iterations, she and Law School students said it was still flawed, and emphasized the need for further changes to the programming...Minjoo Kim, a second-year Law School student who became involved in brainstorming Title IX training reforms after creating the student government’s Health and Wellness Title IX subcommittee, found the process disappointing. With many students and administrators intently focused on activism surrounding race and diversity at the school last year, Kim said she felt Title IX issues were not accorded the attention they deserved...First-year student Devony Schmidt thought both the online and in-person programs focused too heavily on procedure while failing to address rape culture and bystander intervention strategies.

  • Harvard Overhauls Student Orientation to Promote Inclusion

    September 20, 2016

    Harvard Law School first-year students arrived on campus last month to an orientation program redesigned to better help them understand the educational road ahead and foster an inclusive atmosphere...We spoke with dean of students Marcia Sells about the revamped orientation and what was new at the Cambridge, Massachusetts, school this year.

  • Law School Aims to Level Playing Field With New Orientation

    September 16, 2016

    Following a year of of tension and discussion related to diversity at Harvard Law School, administrators unveiled a total overhaul of first-year orientation this year to acclimate students from varying backgrounds...Dean of Students Marcia L. Sells oversaw the restructuring process—a year-long project in which she consulted students and faculty to re-envision a “holistic approach” to orientation. “We really looked at the whole shape of orientation, from the key vantage point that it’s about how do we provide an opportunity for students to feel like they are acclimated to HLS and their surroundings and what the whole law school experience is about,” she said....As early as last September, first-year students dissatisfied with their orientation experiences brought the issue to Sells’s attention. One of these students was now-second-year Charlie Fletcher, who felt the Law School’s orientation fell short compared to the program at the Kennedy School, where he was a joint-degree student...Fletcher and Cameron Clark, who is now a second-year Law student and member of the student government’s Diversity and Inclusion committee and several affinity groups, also felt there weren't many affinity groups contacting incoming students at the start of the semester, leaving students feeling lost.

  • Marcia Sells, BC ’81 and Harvard Law School dean, talks self-discovery, ‘The Wizard of Oz’ at Barnard convocation

    September 14, 2016

    Marcia Sells, BC ’81 and the dean of students at Harvard Law School, emphasized the importance of self-discovery in her keynote speech at Barnard’s 127th convocation on Tuesday. Sells, who served as the dean of students at Columbia Law School before arriving at Harvard, was also the vice president for employee and organizational development at Reuters America and the assistant district attorney for the Kings County district attorney’s office. In an elaborate “The Wizard of Oz” metaphor, Sells described the many parallels she saw between Dorothy’s journey through Oz and a Barnard student’s experience at the college.

  • GALLERY: Harvard Law School Commencement 2016

    May 27, 2016

    On Thursday May 26, 2016, the Harvard Law School Class of 2016 officially became HLS graduates. Here is a look at their day of celebration, filled with families, friends, and some cute kids.

  • GALLERY: Harvard Law School Class Day 2016

    May 26, 2016

    Harvard Law School’s 2016 Class Day ceremony featured speeches by actor, producer, businesswoman and philanthropist Sarah Jessica Parker and Harvard Law School Professor Jeannie Suk, winner of the 2016 Albert M. Sacks-Paul A. Freund Award for Teaching Excellence.

  • Reclaim Harvard Law Removes Critical Posters, Stirring Debate Over Academic Freedom

    March 31, 2016

    For the last several weeks, the walls of the protestor-occupied “Belinda Hall” have been covered with messages from Reclaim HLS, a coalition of students seeking institutional change at the Law School. But on Monday, there was a new message—one equating the movement with Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump, claiming that both Trump and Reclaim are anti-free speech. The signs were posted by third-year student Bill Barlow, who has been a vocal opponent of perceived censorship by Reclaim HLS. Barlow believes some of the protestors’ demands impinge on academic freedom and stifle dissent—a conviction this incident reaffirmed for him. Shortly after Barlow taped up his signs, he sat down to discuss his message with protestors—a conversation he referred to as “tense but civil.” Later that afternoon, members from Reclaim HLS removed Barlow’s critical posters...Dean [Marcia] Sells issued a statement to the Record reaffirming Harvard Law’s commitment to free speech. “In recent weeks, faced with questions of pressing importance to our community, we have respected the extraordinary use of space in the WCC lounge as a place for the expression of views through, for example, the display of posters and fliers and the holding of teach-ins and the like,” Dean Sells told the Record...But unlike Dean Sells, AJ Clayborne, a third-year student and a Reclaim HLS organizer who was one of several students who has removed Barlow’s posters, said that anything posted in Belinda Hall must be approved by Reclaim first.

  • At Harvard Law School, Battle for Inclusion Continues

    March 18, 2016

    The successful fight to retire Harvard Law School’s controversial shield emblem, which has ties to a slaveholding benefactor, has ignited a new battle over equality and racism on the Cambridge campus...Now, the school has several more changes on the way, including bringing a visiting critical race theory professor to the school, hiring more faculty of color, revamping school orientations to make them more inclusive and making plans to hire a director for community engagement and equity to focuses on diversity inclusion issues, according to Marcia Sells, the law school’s associate dean and dean of students. “I really do want to have some quality things come out of this,” Sells said...A.J. Clayborne, a spokesman for Royall Must Fall, said taking the shield down was only the first step. “We’re quite pleased with that decision, although we do believe there’s much more work to be done to address systemic racism in the law school,” Clayborne said.

  • These Harvard Law students are trying to make their school a little less racist

    March 10, 2016

    Beyond the limestone facade of a grand building with arching entranceways, dozens of students have occupied a space at Harvard Law School for the past three weeks. They’ve re-named the room “Belinda Hall,” in honor of a woman who was a slave of law school founder Isaac Royall...“The institution sent a bunch of black and brown people to deal with a group of black and brown people,” said Bianca Tylek, a 29-year-old Latina student with long, wavy brown hair, in her final year of law school, who told me she has been mistaken for janitorial staff before...Keaton Allen-Gessesse, a 28-year-old from Chicago in her final year of law school, told me, “There’s really no place in the classroom for understanding issues of racial inequality or white supremacy...The dean of student affairs, Marcia Sells, said the school has improved the environment for minority students over the past several decades. “I understand what the students are asking for but some of it is, I think, we also have to do more in helping them understand that this is a little bit how the pedagogy works, this is also how it’s changed,” she told me, adding that she thinks the school needs to do a better job of pointing out to students where they’re already teaching historical context at the school, rather than having a separate dedicated critical race theory program.

  • A Week In, Law School Activists Continue Occupation

    February 22, 2016

    As Law School activists continue their occupation of the Caspersen Student Center lounge—along with students from other schools—administrators have publicized a series of efforts to address problems of diversity and inclusion on campus...Third-year Law student and Reclaim Harvard Law member Bianca S. Tylek said the group hopes to expand its reach to other students within and beyond the Law School...Rena T. Karefa-Johnson, a third-year law student...said...“I’m excited that this is something that people are thinking about...“[But] I don’t think those specific initiatives are responsive to what this movement is about.” [Marcia]Sells said that she stands by her work to address problems of diversity and inclusion at the school, emphasizing that change takes time. “I am disappointed that the students think we aren’t working on these things, because we are,” she said in an interview. “I understand that they have their own vision and plan, but I’m just trying to work with what I think works best for all of us, and not expecting things to happen all at once.”

  • Law School Students Continue Activism on Race

    December 16, 2015

    With the semester coming to a close, some Harvard Law School students are continuing their push for changes they say will improve the school’s treatment of minority students, about a month after a high-profile racially charged incident shook campus...On Friday, more than a dozen students hosted a “teach-in” in the lobby of the office of Law School Dean Martha L. Minow, on whom students have called to do more to address their concerns. For roughly an hour, students sat in the office and discussed the possibility of creating a critical race theory program at the school, according to Alexander J. Clayborne, one of the students organizing the protests. Clayborne said they spoke with Minow...In an emailed statement, Minow wrote that she has been meeting with students and faculty members to “ensure inclusive and fair consideration of any ideas for change,” adding that she met with students for several hours last week and again Monday. Law School Dean of Students Marcia L. Sells, too, wrote in a statement that she and Minow have been working closely with students to discuss “what processes can work to achieve change at HLS.”...Law School professor Laurence H. Tribe argued in an email that changing the seal of a school is very different from changing a title. “Renaming the position of ‘House Master’ to something less problematic like ‘Dean of the House’ is a lot easier than changing the school’s seal, which isn’t within the control of any dean or even the university president,” Tribe wrote.

  • Harvard Law School Students Rally, Demanding Changes On Diversity

    December 8, 2015

    Harvard Law School students rallied Monday afternoon to demand the school change its official seal, which features parts of Isaac Royall’s family crest — a slave owner who helped found the institution. Students had given Dean Martha Minow until 9 a.m. Monday to meet their demands to change the seal as well as create a permanent memorial to the Royall family’s slaves. Minow has not responded. She is traveling. Dean of Students Marcia Sells addressed the students at Monday’s rally. “A quick response to those issues, I think, would give them not the value for which they deserve,” Sells said. “But I do want to say that I do indeed hear you. I do think that there are things that we as a community can change and improve, and I’m looking forward to that work.”...“One of the main issues we see is that people whose voices from marginalized communities are most needed in doing that kind of work, they come in the law school, they incur all this debt and they’re pressured into going into the private sector due to the high tuition cost,” said Mickey Belaineh, a third-year law student from Texas.

  • At Meeting, Law School Grapples With Race Relations

    December 1, 2015

    Facing a group of expectant students in a campus lecture hall on Monday, Harvard Law School Dean Martha L. Minow did her best to mollify students who have called on her to improve campus race relations, demands that intensified after a racially-charged incident shook the school two weeks ago...“This is a time for serious challenge and serious action,” Minow said in prepared remarks. “It’s a time when we need your talents and commitments more than ever. I called this meeting to discuss efforts underway at Harvard Law School for changes inside the school and work to tackle the challenges in the world.” Those include reconsidering the use of the school’s seal, which some students criticize because of its connection to a family that once owned slaves; changing it, according to Minow, would require the approval of the Harvard Corporation, the University’s highest governing body. Minow said the school also hopes to increase faculty diversity, while Marcia L. Sells, the Law School’s new dean of students, said she plans to hire a staff member to focus on diversity and inclusion, another demand common among student activists.

  • The Jackie Robinson of Ballet, Arthur Mitchell Still Full of Spirit

    November 13, 2015

    Arthur Mitchell walks gingerly now. He once moved gracefully across dance stages around the world...He's been called the Jackie Robinson of Ballet. Mitchell gained renown as the first African American to be a permanent member of a major ballet company when he joined the New York City Ballet in the mid-1950s. But his most influential achievement arguably came in 1969 when he co-founded the Dance Theater of Harlem...Much of his time is now spent going through sixty years of pictures, programs and letters — archives that he's donated to Columbia University, where he was the subject of a symposium and much praise from his former students, like Harvard Law School Dean of Students Marcia Sells. "He gave us a possibility to think and to dream," Sells said. "As he says, you have to have that. It is something I have carried with me."