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Zelda Harris Named Dean of Western New England University School of Law

SPRINGFIELD — Western New England University (WNE) announced that Zelda Harris, currently the director of the Dan K. Webb Center for Advocacy and Mary Ann G. McMorrow professor of Law at Loyola University Chicago School of Law, has been appointed the incoming dean of Western New England University School of Law, starting Aug. 1.

Maria Toyoda, senior vice president for Academic Affairs and provost at WNE, cited Harris’ extensive experience, leadership skills, dedication to a student-centered legal education, and lengthy history of social-justice advocacy as reasons for her appointment.

“Zelda’s experience in academic leadership, clinical legal education, and advocacy, along with her commitment to social justice and anti-racism, make her an ideal fit for Western New England University,” Toyoda said. “We are thrilled to welcome her to our community and look forward to her leadership as the new dean of the Western New England University School of Law.”

For more than a decade, Harris has been responsible for overseeing all aspects of the Loyola University Chicago Law School’s Center for Advocacy, including curriculum development for both the JD certificate and LLM degree programs in advocacy. Under her leadership, the school’s trial-advocacy program became nationally ranked.

“I was immediately drawn to the mission and values espoused by Western New England School of Law students, faculty, staff, and administration,” Harris said. “I am so excited to be provided this opportunity to lead WNE Law, a school with a dedicated,student-focused education with an experiential focus in education, training, and development that ensures students graduate with a full understanding of how the law can be used to address systemic inequities. I have felt incredible warmth and welcome at every stage of getting to know WNE Law.”

Prior to joining Loyola University Chicago School of Law, Harris served as a clinical professor of Law and director of the Domestic Violence Law Clinic, a multi-disciplinary clinical program, at the University of Arizona’s James E. Rogers College of Law. She also co-directed the Child and Family Law Clinic. Prior to her time at Arizona, Harris was a staff attorney in the Children and Family Justice Center at Northwestern University School of Law. She began her practice as an attorney at Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation in Alton, Ill.

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