On Saturday, Oct. 23, the Connecticut National Association for the Advancement of Colored People honored University of Connecticut School of Law Dean Eboni S. Nelson as one of the 100 Most Influential Blacks in Connecticut. The reception was held at the Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket, Connecticut.
Nelson, who has a J.D. from Harvard Law School and a B.A. in psychology from Wake Forest University, became the Dean of UConn Law on July 31, 2020. She is the first Black person to hold this position on a permanent basis.
“I was definitely very honored and humbled to receive the award,” Nelson said in an interview via phone. “Considering that I’m new to the state, it was very surprising to be recognized. I have admired NAACP and their work my entire life. It is because of them that I can even have the position that I have today, to be able to have an impact and to be of service in a position such as the dean of a law school.”
One of the things Nelson most appreciates about the law school is its supportive alumni network and community. According to Nelson, the school’s accomplishments are largely a results of its strong sense of community.
“It has really been a very rewarding experience,” Nelson said of her time serving as the dean. “I have really enjoyed getting to know my faculty colleagues, and the students, and the staff professionals, as well as our very supportive alumni. All of the wonderful things that the law school has accomplished and is currently accomplishing is due to the supportive community that we have at the law school. And so, I’ve really enjoyed being part of that community.”
During the past year, UConn Law has launched several new programs and initiatives. One notable initiative is the Constance Belton Green Diversity Fund. Named after the first Black female graduate of UConn Law, the fund aims to support diversity, inclusion and social justice, according to Nelson.
“When I first arrived at UConn, I realized that we did not have a fund that broadly supports diversity efforts, that broadly supports everything from student scholarships, to student fellowships, to faculty programs and things of that nature,” Nelson said. “And I believe that having a diverse and inclusive community elevates the excellence of the law school.”
When asked for her advice for UConn students, Nelson emphasized the significance of following your own path in school and life.
“I think it’s important that students decide for themselves what paths they will take and not look to their classmates or their colleagues to determine what success looks like,” Nelson said. “It’s important to pursue opportunities that bring joy and that you feel … can have a real impact and be of service. I would just encourage all students to pursue those goals with the idea of being of service. I think, when we approach our work, or our professions, or our opportunities in that way, they become really fulfilling.”
A list of the 100 award recipients can be found on the Connecticut NAACP’s website.