Rutgers University Law School has tapped Kimberly Mutcherson, a vice dean and professor, as co-dean for the Camden campus, representing the first woman, the first African-American, and the first member of the LGBT community to hold a dean position at the law school.
University Chancellor Phoebe Haddon made the announcement on Wednesday, a day after Mutcherson’s appointment became effective.
Mutcherson replaces Michael Cahill, a Rutgers Law co-dean for the last two and half years who announced in December that he was leaving to become the next dean of Brooklyn Law School. Cahill is scheduled to assume his new post in July 1, replacing interim dean Maryellen Fullerton.
Mutcherson, 46, most recently served as vice dean at the law school.
According to a statement, she has focused her teaching on issues related to reproductive justice, particularly on assisted reproduction and how the law affects family, maternal and fetal decision-making, and health care decisions for minors.
In an interview, Mutcherson said her first priority will be learning how to deal with the university’s larger structure, which is spread across several campuses.
“I’ll have to deal with New Brunswick, the main campus, and Newark,” Mutcherson said.
“I can’t just be in my law school bubble anymore,” she said. “There’s going to be a higher level of bureaucratic lift.”
Mutcherson said she still plans to continue to teach one class—”Bioethics, Babies and Babymaking”—which focuses on family law, reproductive right, child-rearing issues, and biotechnology.
“I love being in the classroom,” she said.
In the statement, Haddon said Mutcherson “is passionate about the value of a legal education that prepares creative thinkers who are ready to be leaders in virtually every aspect of our society.”
Haddon added, “She sees with clarity the role of the law in protecting individual rights.”
Mutcherson’s counterpart in northern New Jersey is co-dean David Lopez, who was named co-dean for the Newark campus last year.
A Collingswood resident, Mutcherson joined Rutgers-Camden as an assistant professor in 2002. She was promoted to associate professor in 2005 and to professor in 2013. She has served as vice dean since 2015.
At the law school, Mutcherson also has taught South African constitutional law, and torts, among other courses. According to the university’s statement, she has led efforts to increase the availability of academic support for Rutgers Law School students; has served as a member of the Loan Repayment Assistance Program Advisory Board; and has been a faculty adviser for the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender student organization, and the Black Law Students Association.
She has written articles on reproductive justice, assisted reproduction, and abortion. She is the co-author of “Assisted Reproductive Justice,” a book that is pending publication, and is editor of the book “Rewriting Reproductive Justice: Feminist Judgments and Reproductive Justice.”
Mutcherson graduated in 1997 from Columbia Law School, where she was a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar and received the Samuel I. Rosenman Prize for commitment to public-interest law. She also earned the Kirkland & Ellis public-interest fellowship and co-founded the Women of Color Coalition. She received her bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Pennsylvania in 1994.
She previously has served as a visiting scholar at the University of Pennsylvania Center for Bioethics, and as a senior fellow at the Center for Gender and Sexuality Law at Columbia Law School. In 2013, she received the Center for Reproductive Rights’ “Innovation in Scholarship Award.”
Before joining Rutgers Law School, Mutcherson was a consulting attorney with the Center for Reproductive Rights, and a fellow and then staff attorney with the HIV Law Project, both in New York, the statement said.
Mutcherson serves on the advisory boards of the Lawyering Project and the What We Know Project, and has served on the Women’s Law Project board.