SPRINGFIELD — More than 100 current and aspiring law professors participated in the inaugural Workshop for Asian-American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Women in the Legal Academy on Aug. 5-6. The event included workshops focused on professional development, scholarship, wellness, and Asian-American history.
The AAPI workshop was co-hosted by Sudha Setty, dean and professor of Law at Western New England University (WNEU) School of Law, along with Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia, associate dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; Samuel Weiss Faculty Scholar; clinical professor of Law; and director of the Center for Immigrants’ Rights Clinic at Penn State Law in University Park.
“I’m delighted that WNE University School of Law and Penn State Law in University Park have been able to partner on bringing this workshop to fruition,” Setty said. “Law schools have spent the last year focusing on anti-racism as a guiding principle in legal education, including what that means in terms of supporting historically excluded populations of students, staff, faculty, and administrators. This workshop is one important way in which we can engage in some of that work. The overwhelming, positive response to this workshop is evidence that it is much-needed and long overdue.”
In addition to providing inspiration, the workshop offered tangible support to individuals from populations that are historically underrepresented in the legal field.
“Watching this workshop turn from an idea to a space for Asian-American and Pacific Islander women to build community, share their scholarship, and navigate the challenges and complexity of identity in the legal academy has been a truly rewarding experience,” Wadhia said. “I am grateful to have collaborated with Dean Sudha Setty and our stellar planning committee in this historic workshop, and hope it inspires representation and inclusion of AAPI women in the legal academy for generations to come.”
Given the workshop’s success in its inaugural year, Wadhia said organizers hope it will be an annual event hosted by a rotating group of law schools across the country. Institutional support, she added, is key to making progress on diversity, equity, and inclusion within the legal academy.
“It is inspiring to see leaders in the legal field recognize the importance of acknowledging and celebrating the vast range of successes and contributions of Asian-American and Pacific Islanders in the legal profession,” said Dr. Maria Toyoda, WNEU’s senior vice president for Academic Affairs and provost. “Opportunities of this kind bring people together to advance communal conversations and education, which results in healthy, inclusive, and compassionate cultures.”