Camille Nelson Steps Down as Dean of AU Washington College of Law

April 17, 2020

Dean Camille Nelson
Dean Camille Nelson

American University Provost Daniel J. Myers announced today that Camille Nelson will step down as Dean of Washington College of Law as of July 31, 2020. Nelson has been appointed Dean of the University of Hawai’i at Manoa William S. Richardson School of Law, effective at the commencement of the 2020-21 academic year.

“Camille has been an outstanding partner and friend, not just to me but to our entire community,” said Provost Myers. “Her passionate advocacy on behalf of our students and our faculty is a hallmark of great academic leadership. Camille’s dedication and vision produced an incredible legacy and we are going to build on her progress as WCL enters the next era of educating pioneering legal practitioners and changemakers who use the law to serve our world. While we will miss Camille, we are grateful for all her contributions, and we wish her the best in her new endeavor!”

During Dean Nelson’s tenure, the law school launched and built upon several successful programs, including Health Law and Policy (now ranked 11th in the nation); building on initiatives launched by the Law and Government Program; Tech, Law and Security; Business Law Bootcamp; and the Master of Legal Studies. To provide students with quality bar passage support, Dean Nelson established the Office of Academic Excellence. As a result, the law school is celebrating its highest pass rate for first-time takers in more than five years on the July 2019 exam (nearly 80% pass rate). In 2018, she expanded the size and scale of the Office of Online Education to enhance existing online programming, to strengthen the position of AUWCL for the growth in online learning opportunities, to further support the training of faculty and administrators in the use of online teaching tools, and to create the Master of Legal Studies (a hybrid degree with American University’s Kogod School of Business). Dean Nelson also introduced the AUWCL Compass Program for incoming first-year students. This signature initiative offers students an opportunity to learn critical interpersonal and professional skills at a time when demand for these proficiencies is higher than ever. In an effort to better communicate with all of the law school’s constituencies, Dean Nelson oversaw the completion of a website redesign and re-launch of the alumni magazine The Advocate. Dean Nelson has furthered the law school’s commitment to diversity and inclusion through the creation of the position of Assistant Dean for Diversity, Inclusion, and Affinity Relations and has supported the importance of diversity, inclusion, and empowerment of students and staff.

Thanks to these efforts and the dedication of AUWCL’s faculty, staff, and alumni, AUWCL moved up 10 places in the annual U.S. News and World Report rankings over the past three years with the law school currently ranked 76th overall. For the first time, AUWCL also saw three specialty programs ranked in the top five in the 2021 U.S. News Specialty Rankings – Clinical Program #2, International Law #4, and Trial Advocacy #4.

Dean Nelson personally thanked the WCL community for its unwavering commitment to the success of the law school. “Over the past four years, WCL has done important work to build upon the strong foundation laid by previous administrations,” she said. “We have focused on an elevated and supportive sense of community, inclusion, professionalism, and engagement to acknowledge and celebrate the excellence of WCL. It has been an honor to serve as your dean.”

Further details about the interim dean appointment and search process for a permanent dean are forthcoming. Dean Nelson will remain as Dean at AUWCL through July to ensure a smooth transition in leadership.