Law professor Melissa Murray has been named interim dean of the UC Berkeley School of Law. Her appointment, which begins today, was decided with broad input from Berkeley Law faculty, students and staff following the March 10 resignation of former Dean Sujit Choudhry.
“Melissa Murray is a widely respected scholar and teacher, as renowned for the quality of her scholarship as her engagement with students,” said Chancellor Nicholas Dirks. “She will provide excellent leadership at Berkeley Law as we search for a permanent dean, and we will provide her with every form of support.”
A graduate of Yale Law School, Murray, 40, joined the Berkeley Law faculty in 2006, and was tenured in 2011. She has taught a range of courses that include family law, constitutional law and criminal law. She is faculty director of Berkeley Law’s Center on Reproductive Rights and Justice, a multidisciplinary research center.
“I am humbled by this opportunity to lead one of the best law schools in the country,” Murray said. “Berkeley Law is fortunate to have wonderful staff, students, alumni, and faculty. I am excited to work with them, and with the campus leadership, as we move forward.”
The responsibilities of a Berkeley Law dean include academic, intellectual and administrative leadership, and advancing a vision for the school’s future. Other duties are fundraising and building partnerships and strong relationships with alumni. The search for a permanent Berkeley Law dean could take at least a year.
Murray’s interim appointment is welcomed by Berkeley Law’s six associate deans, Ty Alper, Holly Doremus, Calvin Morrill, Kathleen Vanden Heuvel, Molly Van Houweling and Charles Weisselberg.
“We are grateful to Professor Murray for her willingness to serve in this important role at a challenging time, and we look forward to working with her and contributing to her leadership,” they said in a joint statement. “We are confident that each member of this community will join us in supporting Interim Dean Murray and rising to the challenges and opportunities we face together.”
During her decade at Berkeley Law, Murray has won recognition for her articles on sexual orientation and gender identity law, including the recent “Marriage as Punishment,” among other topics. She is the co-author of Cases on Reproductive Rights and Justice (2014), the nation’s first legal casebook covering laws and policies that regulate sex, reproduction and families.
In 2014, she was the recipient of Berkeley Law’s Rutter Award for Teaching Distinction. Earlier this year, she won the Women Advancing the Law teaching award from the Boalt Hall Women’s Association.
“We’re thrilled with the selection of Professor Murray,” said Boalt Hall Student Association co-presidents Alexandria Johnson, Noah Ickowitz and third-year co-president Sloan Whiteside in a joint statement. “Professor Murray is well-liked and respected by the students. She cares not just about their concerns, but also about their well-being as people. We look forward to working with her.”
Among other career highlights, Murray clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor when Sotomayor was on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, and for U.S. District Judge Stefan Underhill.