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Harvard Law Appoints First Black Male Dean of Students

Harvard Law School has named Stephen L. Ball, a senior vice president at Wells Fargo, as its new dean of students. Ball, a 2010 graduate of Harvard Law, is the first Black male to hold the tile in the law school’s history.

Ball, who succeeds former dean of students Marcia L. Sells, is responsible for promoting the well-being of the nearly 2,000 students attending Harvard Law as well as overseeing student support and programing, preparation for the Bar application process, and major campus events such as orientation and commencement, according to The Harvard Crimson. He officially took office on March 7.

“Stephen is warm, generous, caring, and dedicated to supporting the well-being and flourishing of all our students,” John F. Manning, the Morgan and Helen Chu Dean and Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, and Dean of Student Services Jessica Soban say in a joint statement. “His time as a student here, his broad knowledge of our profession, and his demonstrated commitment to mentorship and to fostering the aspirations and talents of others make him an excellent choice to be our new dean of students.”

EMPATHETIC LEADERSHIP

After graduating from Harvard Law School in 2010, Ball began his legal career as a litigation associate at Baker & Hostetler before holding senior positions at Airbnb and AAA Insurance. At Wells Fargo, Ball served as senior vice president and strategy lead focusing primarily on advancing their commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. During his time at Wells Fargo, he helped develop a cross-enterprise strategy for supporting historically Black colleges and universities and Hispanic-serving institutions.

“This notion of empathetic leadership, and being able to disagree respectfully without personalizing things — all those things, to me, model leadership,” Ball tells the Crimson. “The HBCUs do a great job of building that within their students.”

Ball says there’s a possibility that similar strategies could be implemented at Harvard Law.

“We don’t have any firm plans around this yet, but I know that HBCUs, for example, many of them offer a campus closet to their students to use for interviewing for jobs,” Ball tells the Crimson. “Maybe there are elements of that approach that so many of the HBCUs have and have done well. Maybe there are elements that we could replicate here on a smaller scale.”

BALL’S HOPES MOVING FORWARD

Ball has a number of goals he hopes to accomplish during his tenure at Harvard Law. For one, he wants to enhance the “user experience” at the law school and increase the amount of support and number of events offered by the Dean of Students Office. Additionally, he says he’s eager to start rebranding the Dean of Students Office as something more than just a destination for disciplinary matters.

“When you also have personal challenges, and you need help — maybe you need to take a personal leave, maybe there are any number of other things — where you’re looking for guidance and support as a student, that’s when we show up,” he says.

Sources: The Harvard Crimson, Harvard Law Today

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