Dean Garry Jenkins Reflects on the Past Year: A Message to the Minnesota Law Community

Dear Law School Community,

On the anniversary of the tragic murder of Twin Cities community member George Floyd, I write to reflect on this past year and to convey a continued call for engagement for all of us at Minnesota Law.

Although a year has passed, our pain and grief remain—along with our resolve to look both inward and outward for change. As I wrote to you on May 27, 2020, “We must look for opportunities, where we can, to bring about positive change; to exercise leadership, to make a difference; and to help promote true justice.” As Minnesota Law students, faculty, and staff, we are all uniquely positioned to use our voice for change. We need to look no further than our alumni to see the great responsibility we hold to prepare ourselves and our students to tackle complex challenges and injustices.

As I reflect on this past year, I am mindful of the ways in which our law school community leaned into this moment, despite the many struggles of this past year, to do just these things -- to bring about positive change, to exercise leadership, to make a difference, and to help promote true justice.

Many in our community volunteered as legal observers or to support the legal needs of small businesses, communities, and organizations. Others provided important scholarship and policy work, as well as educational programming, in criminal justice reform and other reform efforts in support of racial justice and equity.

Our clinics engaged in important legal representation for marginalized communities and secured crucial victories that brought attention to systemic inequalities. Our partnership with Legal Rights Center and our Legal Rights Center Fellows provided community education and protestor support during the Chauvin trial.

Our faculty and adjunct faculty led new courses and wove an increased focus on racial justice into our curriculum. Our student leaders collaborated with our faculty and staff to create new programs like the Civic Scholars Initiative and the Race-Informed Study Experience program.

Our Diversity & Belonging Affinity Council led necessary conversations and supported connections. Our Racial Equity & Justice Committee began their work in developing an audit and reporting document to promote accountability and measurement for all of our efforts. Our community engaged in more listening and learning, and many of you led and supported efforts in your neighborhoods and communities.

We’ve raised important financial support for the George Floyd Memorial Scholarship in Law and other diversity scholarships to continue our efforts to strengthen our Law School community, help ensure that our community more accurately reflects the world at large, remove barriers to entering the legal profession, and train more diverse lawyer-leaders to serve society.

Of course, we all know that the work of racial justice and equity, the work of equal justice in this world, is far from over. In our institutions, our communities, and here at Minnesota Law, we must continue to reject complacency, affirm that Black Lives Matter and that we all have the power to make a difference.


Garry W. Jenkins
Dean & William S. Pattee Professor of Law
University of Minnesota Law School