It's official: Yale Law School has its first tenured Hispanic faculty member. Dean Richard Post announced last week that Cristina Rodriguez will join the faculty on January 28.
Rodriguez, an expert on immigration law, has taught at New York University School of Law since 2004. She took a leave from NYU in 2010 to become deputy assistant attorney general in the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Legal Counsel.
"Cristina is the nation's leading theorist of immigration law," Post said in a written statement. "Her work is both practical and cutting edge, and she brings a wealth of experience and knowledge. She is a superb teacher, and I expect that she will be a mentor to generations of students."
The Yale Daily News reported in March 2012 that the law school had offered Rodriguez a tenured post. That news came out of a town hall meeting between administrators and students about faculty diversity.
Law school faculties are slowly becoming more diverse, although minority groups remain underrepresented. Statistics from the Association of American Law Schools (AALS) show that as of 2008 -- the most recent numbers available -- nearly 72 percent of law professors nationwide were white. Of law faculty holding tenure or tenure-track jobs, 80 percent were white.
The AALS annual meeting in New Orleans earlier this month featured a day-long slate of panels discussing minority faculty and student recruitment. A 2010 study underwritten by the American Bar Foundation and the Law School Admission Council found that lower percentages of women and minority law professors thought the tenure process was fair.
Harvard Law School garnered attention in 2011 when it granted tenure to Jeannie Suk, making her the first tenured Asian-American woman on its faculty. (Harvard has approximately 138 full-time faculty members, compared to Yale's 74, according to the American Bar Association.)
Rodriguez, who received her J.D. from Yale, was a visiting professor there in fall 2009. She will teach constitutional law, administrative law and immigration law.