GAINESVILLE, Fla. — In a recent annual assessment, the University of Florida Levin College of Law was recognized as being on the forefront of recruitment, retention and quality education for Hispanic students. The assessment conducted by HispanTelligence, the research arm of Hispanic Business Magazine, ranked UF 10th overall, and 5th among public law schools in the U.S.
“We are proud of this distinction because it demonstrates that we are serious about diversity,” said Robert Jerry, dean and Levin, Mabie and Levin Professor of Law. “In 2007, more than 10 percent of our student body was Hispanic, and the retention rate was 100 percent.”
Jerry added that the college’s success in recruiting Hispanic students is due in part to the highly accomplished faculty, and active student organizations, including the Spanish American Law Students Association (SALSA), the Hispanic and Lation/a Law Student Association (HLLSA), the Caribbean Law Students Association (Carib-Law), and the International Law Society (ILS).
“Professors Berta Hernandez-Truyol, Juan Perea and Pedro Malavet and Assistant Professor D. Daniel Sokol make the Levin College of Law a national leader in the number of tenured Hispanic faculty,” Jerry said. “And, our students have a variety of Hispanic organizations in which to participate.”
Pedro Malavet, UF law professor, said there are many reasons why UF earned this high ranking. “Many law schools do not have a single Hispanic law professor,” said Malavet. “We have earned our place in the top 10 by developing a strong, diverse community with a critical mass of Hispanics at every level of our school.”
Malavet noted that with the creation of the Center for the Study of Race and Race Relations in the late 1990s, the College of Law has emerged on the forefront of Critical Legal Studies and Critical Race Theory. “For roughly the first 50 years of our almost-centennial history, this was a segregated all-white institution,” said Professor Pedro Malavet. “Virgil Hawkins led the litigation to desegregate our school, George H. Starke, Jr. became our first African-American student on September 15, 1958, W. George Allen our first African-American law graduate in 1962, and the Hon. Stephan Mickle the first African-American undergraduate Gator alumnus in 1965. These ‘firsts’ opened the doors of the University and the College of Law for all people of color.”
The Levin College of Law will hold a ceremony on September 17th to honor Constitution Day at the University of Florida as well as to mark the 50th anniversary of integration at UF. At the ceremony, family members of Virgil Hawkins will be recognized for the role he played in desegregation.
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