Adrienne Davis appointed vice provost at Washington University in St. Louis

New position to focus on strengthening diversity, enhancing faculty development and fostering leadership

Adrienne D. Davis, JD, the William M. Van Cleve Professor of Law at Washington University in St. Louis, has been appointed vice provost at Washington University, effective Feb. 1, 2011.

Edward S. Macias, PhD, provost and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs, made the announcement of this new position in the Office of the Provost.

Adrienne D. Davis
Davis Download hi-res image.

The appointment comes through the recommendation of an advisory committee chaired by James E. McLeod, vice chancellor for students and dean of the College of Arts & Sciences.

“This new position will focus initially on diversity and faculty development as well as other areas of campus-wide importance,” says Macias, who also is the Barbara and David Thomas Distinguished Professor in Arts & Sciences.

“Adrienne Davis is very well-suited for this position as it is a natural outgrowth of her current work on law, gender and race in an interdisciplinary manner.”

Macias, whose ongoing priorities as provost are strengthening the diversity of the WUSTL community and enhancing faculty development, announced last September the formation of the advisory committee that would identify and recommend candidates from within the university community for the vice provost position.

The position carries a 50 percent appointment and reports directly to the provost.

“I am delighted to be asked to serve on the provost’s team at Washington University, which I consider to be one of the exceptional institutions of higher learning,” Davis says.

“I look forward to working with the provost, the deans and my colleagues in the different schools on a variety of projects. Our niche as a premier research university, also offering the many benefits of a liberal arts college, presents unique opportunities to enhance our faculty at all levels.

“We already compete and contribute at the highest levels in our professional schools, the sciences and the humanities, and we are poised to compete at a similarly high level in pursuing a diverse faculty that represents the absolute best of academia,” Davis says.

“I am also looking forward to remaining involved and active in my teaching and other projects and initiatives at the law school.”

Davis joined the WUSTL law faculty in 2008. Her scholarship and teaching are focused on gender and race relations; theories of justice and reparations; feminist legal theory; and law and popular culture.

She directs the Black Sexual Economies Project at the law school’s Center for Interdisciplinary Study of Work and Social Capital, a working group of eight scholars from seven U.S. research universities who are working in the fields of law; English; African diaspora studies; feminist, gender and sexuality studies; film and media studies; history; and American studies.

Designed as a four-year working group, the project’s goal is to craft new paradigms for thinking about race, gender and sexuality through open dialogue and papers that will culminate in a published volume and public conference in 2012-2013.

She also founded the Law & Culture Initiative at the School of Law in 2009 to facilitate scholarly engagement and exchange on the intersection of legal, cultural and other interdisciplinary studies.

She holds courtesy appointments in African & African-American Studies, the Department of History, and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, all in Arts & Sciences.

Davis earned a bachelor’s degree in Afro-American studies and in economics and political science from Yale and subsequently a juris doctorate from Yale Law School, where she was an executive committee editor of The Yale Law Journal.

Her first academic position was at the University of San Francisco School of Law; while there, she clerked for Judge A. Leon Higginbotham Jr. of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

She moved to Washington, D.C., to join the faculty at American University, Washington College of Law. She became the co-director of the Gender, Work & Family Project, a research and advocacy center aimed at discerning and ameliorating the economic vulnerability that parenting and working can entail.

From D.C., Davis moved to the University of North Carolina School of Law, where she became the Reef C. Ivey II Research Professor of Law. She was awarded the Frederick B. McCall Award for Teaching Excellence and served as chair, first of the Visiting Speaker Series and later of the Promotion & Tenure Committee.

Davis is a recipient of a Bellagio Fellowship from the Rockefeller Foundation and two research grants from the Ford Foundation on the topics of black women and labor, and women, slavery, sexuality and religion.

In addition to her research and teaching, she is an Organization of American Historians Distinguished Lecturer, past chair of the Law and Humanities Section of the Association of American Law Schools, and served on the editorial boards of several prestigious journals.