SMU, Dedman School of Law announce Deason Family Criminal Justice Reform Center

Jennifer M. Collins

SMU, Dedman School of Law announce Deason Family Criminal Justice Reform Center

Umphrey Lee Cenotaph, Dedman School of Law quad, SMUSMU’s Dedman School of Law is poised to become a hub of research and education on issues related to criminal justice reform.

The Deason Family Criminal Justice Reform Center will be a place for scholars to undertake independent research and develop educational opportunities on topics such as the causes of wrongful convictions and over-incarceration, and ensuring the fair and ethical treatment of individuals at all stages of the criminal justice process.

The new center is supported by combined gifts totaling $7 million from the Deason Foundation and the Charles Koch Foundation. The gifts will provide $3.5 million each over a period of five years.

“The support from the Deason Foundation and the Charles Koch Foundation for this center goes right to the heart of what a great university like SMU is positioned to do in finding solutions to societal problems,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “The United States has 5 percent of the world’s population, but 25 percent of the world’s prison population, so there’s work to be done. Dedman Law is eager to engage in the important national debate surrounding issues of fairness, accuracy and compassion in the criminal justice system.”

> The Dallas Morning NewsDeason and Koch give $7 million to SMU Dedman Law for criminal justice reform

Jennifer Collins, the Judge James Noel Dean and Professor of Law at Dedman School of Law, served as assistant U.S. Attorney in the District of Columbia from 1994 to 2002 and is well positioned to anticipate the impact of the Deason Family Criminal Justice Reform Center.

“Policy makers across the ideological spectrum are talking about the need for criminal justice reform,” Collins said. “From the adequacy of defense counsel, to police uses of force, to wrongful convictions and the racial disparities in the criminal justice system – these are the huge issues of our time. This new center will work well with our existing criminal clinic and innocence clinic, and build on our existing faculty strength in criminal law.”

The Deason Family Criminal Justice Reform Center will provide a platform for important interdisciplinary collaboration among many different groups, including scholars, students, the judiciary, law enforcement, prosecutors, and defense counsel. By bringing together experts from across the country to participate in symposia and conferences, the center will engage in national conversations surrounding criminal justice.

“Our passion for criminal justice reform is based on our desire to create and support programs that help lift the poor from poverty, to help them become self-dependent and, consequently, support their families and live their lives with dignity,” said Doug Deason. “Because the problems with our criminal justice system are so complex and deeply rooted, a collaborative, thoughtful approach is essential. This new Criminal Justice Reform Center will offer the research required to find innovative solutions, and we are very proud to support it.”

“Finding solutions to the problems with our criminal justice system will require the sort of leading-edge scholarship that the faculty at SMU produce. This is an issue that separates families, divides communities, and gets to the heart of how our society treats people in their most difficult hour. The Deason Center scholars can make a major difference and we’re proud to partner with the Deason family and SMU on this initiative,” said Charles Koch Foundation President Brian Hooks.

The gifts to fund the Deason Family Criminal Justice Center in Dedman School of Law count toward SMU Unbridled: The Second Century Campaign, which concluded on Dec. 31, 2015 and raised more than $1 billion to support student quality, faculty and academic excellence and the campus experience.

“The overarching goal of our Second Century Campaign has been to build an extraordinary platform for research and learning at SMU,” said Brad Cheves, vice president for Development and External Affairs. “The Deason Family Criminal Justice Reform Center will support important learning experiences for our students, and, we believe, equally important societal changes. We are grateful for the opportunity this provides us.”

> Read the full story from SMU News

April 27, 2016|News|

$1.5 million gift establishes SMU endowed chair in the legal rights and protection of children

Jack D. Knox

Jack D. Knox ’60, ’63

A $1.5 million gift from North Texas business leader Jack D. Knox ’60 ’63 will establish a new endowed professorship in SMU’s Dedman School of Law.

The Jack Knox Chair in the Rights and Protection of Children will support teaching, research and publishing on legal issues related to protecting the welfare and legal rights of children.

“Jack Knox’s gift will enable the law school to further its teaching and scholarship on children’s rights,” said SMU Judge James Noel Dean and Professor of Law Jennifer M. Collins. Dean Collins joined the Law School in July 2014 as an academic leader and nationally recognized scholar on the intersection of family and criminal law. “Endowment gifts like this provide critical support for our commitment to excellence in the classroom and continued cutting-edge, impactful work by our faculty.”

“We are deeply grateful to Mr. Knox for his gift, which not only will make a difference in the lives of children but also will advance the academic offerings of one of the nation’s top law schools,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “Our law graduates will be more aware of the important social and personal issues affecting children and will be trained in protecting their legal rights.”

Knox, a native of Weatherford, Texas, received a B.A. degree in English from SMU in 1960 and a J.D. degree from what is now Dedman School of Law in 1963. In 2011, Knox was honored with the Robert G. Storey Award for Distinguished Achievement, the highest honor bestowed by the Law School. He is general partner of Six Flags Over Texas Fund Ltd., a private limited investment group overseeing real estate assets of Six Flags Over Texas. He also is owner of Café Pacific Restaurants Inc., parent company of the popular restaurant, which has been based in Dallas’ Highland Park Village for 34 years.

“It’s an honor to help my alma mater empower the next generation of legal professionals by providing them with a strong understanding of what the issues are and the knowledge and drive to develop better laws and policies to protect children’s welfare and rights,” Knox said.

The Jack Knox Chair counts toward the $1 billion goal of SMU Unbridled: The Second Century Campaign, and advances the campaign’s goal to reach 110 endowed faculty positions. To date the campaign has raised more than $902 million to support student quality, faculty and academic excellence and the campus experience.

Written by Denise Gee

> Read the full story from SMU News

 

October 24, 2014|News|

Jennifer M. Collins named new SMU law dean

SMU’s new law dean is a scholar at the intersection of criminal and family law whose background includes extensive academic administration experience as well as service as a federal prosecutor. Jennifer M. Collins will begin her duties as the Judge James Noel Dean of Dedman School of Law on Tuesday, July 1, 2014,

Collins comes to SMU from Wake Forest University, where she currently serves as vice provost. Collins has been on the law school faculty at Wake Forest since 2003 and was named associate provost in 2010 and vice provost in September 2013. She has continued to teach courses on gender and the law and legal professionalism while serving in the provost’s office.

“We are delighted to welcome Jennifer Collins to SMU and Dallas,” said Paul Ludden, SMU provost and vice president for academic affairs. “She is a brilliant legal scholar and an outstanding academic administrator. Her experience as associate provost at Wake Forest has provided her with a campus-wide perspective that will be invaluable in leading Dedman School of Law at SMU.”

“The Dedman School of Law can be proud of the reputation it has built for academic rigor, as well as its excellent record in preparing students to practice in prestigious law firms,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “Because Jennifer Collins’ career spans a lengthy tenure as a federal prosecutor as well as serving in academia, she is uniquely positioned to continue the Dedman School of Law tradition of preparing men and women to enter a competitive legal market.”

Collins graduated magna cum laude with a J.D. from Harvard University in 1991, and received her B.A. in history, cum laude with Distinction in the Major, from Yale University in 1987.

“I am absolutely delighted to be joining the SMU community,” Collins said. “I loved having the opportunity to meet with terrific, dedicated faculty and staff, and truly outstanding students, during my visit to campus, and I am eager to work together to address the challenges currently facing legal education. I cannot imagine an institution better positioned to respond to those challenges than the Dedman School of Law, and it is a great privilege to become part of the SMU family.”

Collins clerked for the Hon. Dorothy W. Nelson in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit after graduating from Harvard Law School, and worked briefly in private practice in Washington, D.C., before joining the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel as an attorney-adviser in 1993. Collins served in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia from 1994 to 2002, working in the homicide section for the last six of those years and prosecuting more than 30 jury trials.

She returned briefly to private practice in 2002 and joined the faculty of Wake Forest University School of Law in 2003. While at Wake Forest, Collins has taught criminal law, criminal procedure, family law, and gender and the law. She is the 2009 winner of the Jurist Excellence in Teaching Award, selected by the graduating class of the law school, and the 2010 recipient of the Joseph Branch Excellence in Teaching Award, selected by the dean of the law school.

Collins became associate provost for academic and strategic initiatives at Wake Forest in 2010, where she spearheaded the university’s entry into the online and distance education market and developed new initiatives to increase diversity and inclusion across campus. She promoted efforts to examine the relevance and value of a liberal arts education and coordinated a large-scale strategic planning effort to improve campus culture for Wake Forest students.

Collins’ legal research has focused on issues involving families and the criminal justice system, including the prosecution of parents who are responsible for their children’s deaths. She is the author, with Dan Markel and Ethan Lieb, of Privilege or Punish? Criminal Justice and The Challenge of Family Ties, published by Oxford University Press in 2009, and has written many other law review articles and essays.

Provost Ludden expressed thanks to Julie Forrester, an award-winning scholar in property law, who has served since June 1 as Dean ad interim for Dedman School of Law. “Professor Forrester provided a great service to Dedman Law, providing outstanding leadership and laying the groundwork for a smooth transition,” Ludden said.

Collins, who was selected after a nationwide search, succeeds John Attanasio, who served as dean for three terms, from 1998 to 2013.

Written by Denise Gee

> Read the full story from SMU News

December 17, 2013|For the Record, News|
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