‘Face to Face’: A Law School’s Dean Honors its Namesake

Chancellor Gary S. May interviews Kevin Johnson in a video studio
School of Law Dean Kevin Johnson is this month’s guest on ‘Face to Face With Chancellor May.’ (Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis)

Since joining the UC Davis Law faculty in 1989, Dean Kevin Johnson has centered his work around those ideals of the King Hall’s namesame, Martin Luther King, Jr.: “Being a law school devoted to social justice and social change, and the diversity of our faculty and our student body helps us to pursue those goals.”

Johnson, who is also the Mabie-Apallas Professor of Public Interest Law and a professor of Chicana/o studies, is this month’s guest on Face to Face With Chancellor May.

After joining the UC Davis law faculty in 1989, Johnson was named Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in 1998 and dean in 2008. He’s a previous recipient of the law school's Distinguished Teaching Award, and has instructed classes in immigration law, civil procedure, complex litigation, Critical Race Theory and more.

In an honest and open conversation with Chancellor Gary S. May, Johnson discusses his role in creating a home for the University of California’s Immigrant Legal Services Center at King Hall in 2014. Serving all nine UC campuses, it provides free legal services for undocumented students and their families “to navigate a very challenging immigration system,” according to Johnson. These programs reflect the dean’s larger mission of ensuring that “all students who are admitted really have the opportunity to attend the University of California, Davis.”

Purple graphic with text "Face to Face with Chancellor May"

May asks Johnson’s thoughts regarding the status of immigrant rights. Johnson addresses how “real lives are being lost” along the U.S.-Mexico border and how, in his opinion, “as a society devoted to democracy and equality — we should try to treat all people humanely.”

The School of Law was recently ranked in the top 20 in the nation by QS World and No. 1 by Princeton Review for "greatest resources for women,” while still being judicious about its ranking participation. Watch the above video to hear more about the law school’s achievements during Johnson’s tenure, including its Racial Justice Speaker Series.

Also, tune in for some surprising responses to May’s rapid-fire “Hot Seat” round, particularly for the psychobilly music fans out there.

Media Resources

José Vadi is a writer for Dateline UC Davis, and can be reached by email.

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