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Berkeley Law Dean to Step Down; No Successor Named

August 18, 1999|From Associated Press

BERKELEY — The dean of UC Berkeley's law school, who led it through a period of turmoil over minority admissions, has announced that she will leave her post in June 2000.

Herma Hill Kay, 65, said she has met most of her goals as dean of Boalt Hall School of Law and plans to return to teaching after a one-year sabbatical to work on a book about early women law professors. No successor has been named.

Kay had taught at Boalt since 1960, and in 1992 became its first female dean. She served in 1989 as the first woman president of the Assn. of American Law Schools.

A noted family law scholar, she was coauthor of California's no-fault divorce law in 1970.

Kay, an advocate of diversity among faculty and students, came under pressure after race and sex preferences in university admissions were banned, first by the UC Board of Regents in 1995 and then by Proposition 209 in 1996.

In the fall of 1997, when the ban first affected graduate admissions, the first-year class at Boalt Hall had only one black student, compared to 20 the previous year.

Kay and the faculty responded with a series of race-neutral changes in admissions standards, including equal treatment of public and private university graduates and increased attention to essays in which students described hardships they had overcome. Recruitment of minorities also increased.

The incoming class last fall had nine black students. Hispanics also increased, from seven to 24, and Native Americans from zero to two.

"We simply had to do what we could to continue to maintain diversity in the face of the new constraints," Kay said. "We succeeded remarkably well."

But schools like Boalt Hall will be unable to reach their previous levels of diversity with the ban on affirmative action, which prohibits university-sponsored minority scholarships, she said.

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