Verna L. Williams

Headshot of Verna L. Williams

Verna L. Williams

Dean and Nippert Professor of Law, College of Law

610A College of Law Building


Areas of Interest: Constitutional Law, Critical Race Theory/Race and the Law, Family Law, Feminist Legal Theory


Dean Verna Williams joined the College of Law in 2001 after practicing many years in the areas of civil and women’s rights.  Prior to her appointment as Dean, she taught in the areas of family law, gender discrimination, and constitutional law. In addition, she co-directed the College’s Judge Nathaniel Jones Center for Race, Gender, and Social Justice with Professors Kristin Kalsem and Emily Houh.  

Before joining the College of Law, Dean Williams was Vice President and Director of Educational Opportunities at the National Women’s Law Center, where she focused on issues of gender equity in education.  During her time at the Center, Dean Williams was lead counsel and successfully argued before the United States Supreme Court Davis v. Monroe County Board of Education, which established that educational institutions have a duty to respond to and address complaints of student-to-student sexual harassment.  

Dean Williams also clerked for the Hon. David S. Nelson, U.S. District Judge for the District of Massachusetts.  After the clerkship, she practiced law at the Washington, D.C., office of Sidley & Austin and at the U.S. Department of Justice.

Dean Williams’s research examines the intersection of race, gender, and class in law and policy.  She has presented papers at such venues as the Latina/o Critical Race Theory Conference and meetings of the Association of Law, Culture and the Humanities. Dean Williams also has served as a consultant for the Ford Foundation; in that capacity, she chaired the convening of a national conference at UC entitled Women Coming Together:  Claiming the Law for Social Change.  Dean Williams received the Goldman Prize for Excellence in Teaching in 2004 and 2011.  

Dean Williams is a cum laudegraduate of Harvard Law School and Georgetown University.  


BS, Georgetown University
JD, Harvard Law School

Courses Taught

  • Constitutional Law
  • Family Law
  • Gender and the Law


  • Co-Recipient of the Marian Spencer Award
  • 2013 Girl Scouts of Western Ohio Women of Distinction
  • 2011 Goldman Prize for Excellence in Teaching
  • 2004 Goldman Prize for Excellence in Teaching


Articles, Essays, and Book Reviews


  • Ninth Annual Feminist Legal Theory Conference; Panelist: “Considering Criminalization and Gun Control through a Gender Lens,” University of Baltimore School of Law, March 2016.
  • Ninth Annual Lutie Lytle Black Law Faculty Writing Workshop; Work-in-Progress: “Gun Safety as a Matter of Reproductive Justice,” Vanderbilt University, July 2015.
  • “The Moynihan Report: 50 Years Later,” Georgetown Journal of Law & Modern Critical Race Perspectives Symposium; Panelist: “The Black Family,” Georgetown University Law Center, February 2014.
  • Conversation with Olympia Snowe; Moderator and Interviewer: The Women’s Fund of Greater Cincinnati, March 2014.
  • Feminism and Human Rights Meeting; Invited Participant, Pauli Murray Project and Duke Human Rights Center, Duke University, June 2013 and October 2012.
  • Women’s Economic Justice Roundtable; Invited Participant, Ford Foundation, January 2013.
  • Does Reparations Have A Future? Rethinking Racial Justice in a ‘Color-Blind’ Era, University of Virginia (March 2013)
  • Education Reform and Feminist Legal Theory, Chicago-Kent School of Law (February 2005)
  • More than a Paycheck: Education Reform as a Means of Reparations, University of Maryland School of Law (September 2004)
  • Single Sex Education and the Construction of Race and Gender Hierarchies, University of Tennessee (April 2004)
  • Single Sex Education and the Bush Administration, University of Pittsburgh School of Law (March 2004)
  • The Formal Equality Trap: Considering Race in Admissions, Western Michigan University School of Social Work (April 2002)
  • The Push for Single Sex Education: Implications for Gender Equity, Colorado State University (November 2002)
  • A Fly in the Buttermilk: Reflections on Gender, Race, and Diversity, University of Pittsburgh School of Law (November 2001)
  • Integration as a Compelling State Interest, University of Cincinnati College of Law (October 2001)