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Makau Mutua Named Dean of UB Law School

By Arthur Page

Release Date: May 7, 2008

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Makau Mutua has been named dean of the UB Law School.

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Makau W. Mutua, recognized as one of the world's foremost authorities in the area of human rights law, has been named dean of the University at Buffalo Law School.

SUNY Distinguished Professor and Floyd H. and Hilda L. Hurst Faculty Scholar, Mutua has served as interim dean of the school since December 2007.

He joined the UB Law School faculty in 1996, also assuming co-directorship of the Buffalo Human Rights Center. Today he is director of the center, which fosters coursework, research and scholarship in human rights among faculty and students.

Mutua previously was associate director of the Human Rights Program at Harvard Law School, from which he received a doctor of juridical science degree in 1987. He also served as director of the Africa Project at the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights.

He succeeds Nils Olsen, who stepped down in December 2007 to return to the school's faculty.

Mutua's appointment was announced today by Satish K. Tripathi, UB provost and executive vice president for academic affairs.

"As an internationally renowned legal scholar, Professor Mutua is lauded for his insightful and visionary world view," Tripathi said. "I know Professor Mutua's visionary perspective and approach to legal education and research will contribute greatly to enhancing the school's impact and subsequently elevating its national reputation.

"Following an extensive search and consultation with the law school faculty, SUNY Distinguished Professor Mutua emerged as the right leader to bring our law school to the forefront of national distinction."

Praising Mutua as a faculty member and world-recognized scholar, UB President John B. Simpson added: "This is simply a stellar appointment. As a faculty member, as director of the UB Human Rights Program and as interim dean of the law school, Professor Mutua has come to exemplify the power of ideas transformed into action -- a principle that is fundamental to the mission of the law school and of our larger university.

"In every capacity -- as a world renowned human rights scholar and policy leader, as a public intellectual and as an educator -- Professor Mutua has focused international attention on the Law School and the university, while developing key linkages between UB and other worldwide academic institutions, foundations and non-government organizations. His demonstrated leadership, experience and vision will be outstanding guides to the law school as it builds further on its national reputation of excellence."

Noting that the law school's traditions and reputation "have been built by our excellent faculty and fine student body," Mutua said "the law school exists in the marketplace and must therefore reinvigorate itself to meet the challenges of tomorrow.

"I want to dedicate my deanship to securing for UB Law a place among the finest law schools in this country.  To do so, I will work closely with president and provost, our faculty, our distinguished alumni and the State of New York.  The future of UB Law depends on a shared consensus and vision for academic excellence on the part of all these constituencies."

He added, "The strengths of UB Law clearly are its faculty, which holds a respected place in legal academia, its innovative and forward looking curriculum, its dedication to teaching students both the theoretical and practical aspects of law and its outstanding alumni, without which a law school, especially a public one, cannot aspire to greatness.

"Going forward, in order for UB Law to sit atop the pedestal of legal education I intend to hire faculty with star potential, to raise the academic profile of our student body and to team up with our alumni to secure commitments that are essential to the law's ambitions."

Mutua, who teaches international human rights, international business transactions and international law, has conducted numerous human rights, diplomatic and rule-of-law missions to countries in Africa, Latin America and Europe, and has spoken at public forums in many parts of the world, including Japan, Brazil, France and Ethiopia.

He is a member of the Executive Council and the Executive Committee of the American Society of International Law (ASIL), the most prestigious and largest organization of international lawyers in the world. He serves as chairman of the Kenya Human Rights Commission and sits on the boards of several international organizations.

Mutua is the author of "Human Rights: A Political and Cultural Critique" (2002). His most recent books are, "Kenya's Quest for Democracy: Taming Leviathan" (2008) and "Human Rights NGOs in East Africa: Political and Normative Tensions." He has authored numerous scholarly articles on topics that include international law, human rights and religion. He also has written human rights reports for the United Nations and leading nongovernmental organizations, as well as dozens of articles for such leading publications including The New York Times and The Washington Post. His expertise and commentary on human rights has been cited by such prominent media as National Public Radio, the BBC and "NewsHour with Jim Lehrer."

Mutua has been a visiting professor at Harvard Law School, the University of Iowa College of Law, the University of Puerto Rico School of Law and the United Nations University for Peace in Costa Rica.

While on sabbatical in his native Kenya, Mutua was appointed by the Kenyan government to chair the Task Force on the Establishment of a Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission. He also was a delegate to the National Constitutional Conference, the forum that produced a contested draft constitution for Kenya.

Mutua was educated at the University of Nairobi, Kenya; the University of Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania; and at Harvard Law School.

He recently was honored by the UB Law School at its 46th annual UB Law Alumni Association meeting and dinner, where he was presented an award for outstanding service to the university and the community by a non-alumnus by Simpson.

Since its founding in 1887, the University at Buffalo Law School -- the State University of New York system's only law school -- has established an excellent reputation and is widely regarded as a leader in legal education. Its cutting-edge curriculum provides both a strong theoretical foundation and the practical tools graduates need to succeed in a competitive marketplace, wherever they choose to practice. A special emphasis on interdisciplinary studies, public service and opportunities for hands-on clinical education makes UB Law unique among the nation's premier public law schools.

The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, a flagship institution in the State University of New York system that is its largest and most comprehensive campus. UB's more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities.