The University of Memphis School of Law is proud to announce that Professor Demetria Frank has been named a visiting Herff Chair of Excellence at the law school.

The Memphis legal community knows Professor Frank as a highly regarded member of the faculty at the University of Memphis School of Law who was instrumental in designing, implementing, and overseeing the law schools’ array of award-winning diversity and inclusion initiatives. After joining the law school faculty in 2013, she quickly rose through the ranks, ultimately achieving tenured status in 2019, leading the school’s diversity program, and being named as Associate Dean for Diversity & Inclusion.

Under Professor Frank’s leadership, the Office of Diversity & Inclusion has become a vital institutional resource to faculty, staff and students for issues regarding climate and equity. She has also built a number of successful pipeline programs to the law school, including our Bass, Berry, & Sims Summer Trial and Advocacy Institute and the LSAC Plus Program. Additionally, Professor Frank has worked to continue the growth of the law school’s longstanding Tennessee Institute for PreLaw (TIP) program, with consistently strong enrollment and retention year over year.

She has greatly enhanced and broadened the law school and Office of Diversity & Inclusion’s community relationships and built a number of partnerships with various diverse Bars and the local legal community to better prepare our students for a world beyond the Mid-South. Her focus on introducing students to a wider range of ideas, individuals, workplace initiatives and settings, helped prepare them to address diversity issues found on a global scale.

In her new role as a visiting Herff Chair of Excellence, Professor Frank will focus her research on documenting these very same innovative diversity programs implemented at Memphis Law and beyond. Her research and new focus will immediately be showcased in the coming weeks, as she will present a special symposium on February 3, 2023, titled “Teaching Bias, Cultural Competency, and Racism in Law Schools.” The symposium will focus on how law schools will meet the requirements set forth by the American Bar Association’s new standard 303(c), the challenges they might encounter implementing the standard, the attacks on critical race theory, and more.  

The symposium and its focus are key indicators of how Professor Frank intends to take her successful initiatives and experiences at Memphis Law and help the entire legal education arena and greater legal community achieve authentic and important diversity benchmarks. The lessons she has learned at Memphis Law will now allow her to help shape diversity and inclusion efforts beyond the Mid-South and University of Memphis.

This exciting evolution of the law school’s diversity & inclusion efforts is already underway. We have begun a national search for a new Associate Dean of Diversity & Inclusion and to ensure that we lose none of Professor Frank’s hard-earned momentum.  Our Diversity & Inclusion initiatives and student services will be led in the meantime by Assistant Dean of the Office of Diversity & Inclusion Jacqueline O’Bryant.

“I am so glad to see the first steps of Professor Frank’s future take shape as one of our visiting Herff Chairs,” said Dean Katharine Schaffzin. “Having her at the law school a bit longer to fully complete and highlight the research she has accumulated over the past several years is an exciting opportunity and will benefit not only the law school’s diversity & inclusion efforts, but also those of the entire Memphis legal community and legal education as a whole.”

“After years of tremendous work and advancements in our law school’s diversity and inclusion culture, I am hopeful that we will all be able to celebrate her service throughout her term as a visiting Herff Chair,” said Dean Schaffzin. “Professor Frank has made it clear that the successful trajectory of our Office of Diversity & Inclusion is an inspiration for her larger efforts to achieve equality and diversity in private industry in the next stage of her career.”