Cynthia Nance Appointed as Dean of the School of Law Through 2026

Dean Cynthia Nance
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Dean Cynthia Nance

Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Terry Martin has appointed Cynthia Nance as dean of the U of A School of Law. Nance will continue to serve as dean of the School of Law through June 2026.

"Dean Nance has served the U of A for nearly 30 years, and her experience within the School of Law and the university, as well as her expertise in legal education and respect of the bench and bar, is unmatched," Martin said. "I, along with university leadership, am thrilled she will continue in this role."

Nance joined the U of A School of Law in 1994 as an assistant professor. In 2006, she was named dean of the School of Law and served through 2011. With this appointment, she became the first woman and the first person of color to serve as dean in the school's then-82-year history.

After her appointment as dean ended in 2011, Nance returned to the School of Law faculty. She was designated as the Nathan G. Gordon Professor of Law in 2012. In July 2022, she became dean of the School of Law for a second time, which will continue through June 2026.

"It is an honor to continue serve the university and School of Law community in this capacity, especially as we look forward to celebrating the centennial of the law school," Nance said. "I'm grateful to Provost Martin for his confidence in my leadership and for allowing me to continue to advance our legacy of leadership, research and service, consistent with our land grant mission, which also includes access to legal education for historically underrepresented groups."

Nance's appointment concludes a national dean search that started in May 2023. When discussing Nance's appointment, Martin said, "Dean Nance is highly accomplished and well respected by legal professionals across the country. She is truly a pioneer in her field, and her contributions to the U of A, the legal community, the state and the nation are remarkable. While the search identified many highly qualified candidates, we decided that Dean Nance is the best person to lead the School of Law forward."

About Cynthia Nance

Nance earned her bachelor's degree in economics from Chicago State University. She holds a Juris Doctor with distinction from the University of Iowa College of Law. In addition, she received a master's degree in finance from the University of Iowa College of Business.

Her teaching and scholarship focus on labor and employment law, workplace legislation and poverty law. She was the law school's first director of pro bono and community engagement.

Nance has authored articles in several journals including the Iowa Law Review, Berkeley Journal of Employment and Labor Law, Rutgers Law Review and Brandeis Law Journal. She has given presentations on various legal and educational issues nationally as well as in Mexico, Brunei, Singapore and Ukraine. She served as a keynote speaker for the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas' inaugural Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration.

She is actively involved with several organizations that address labor and employment law. She represents the American Bar Association Labor and Employment Law Section in the House of Delegates. Nance is a fellow of the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers and the president-elect of Board of Governors. She is an elected member of the American Law Institute and The Labor Law Group, serving on its executive committee. She is a member of the Arkansas Advisory Committee to the United States Civil Rights Commission and the Arkansas Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program Committee. She is the immediate past chair of the American Bar Foundation Fellows and a former Eighth Circuit Member of the American Bar Association's Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary.

Nance is also an Arkansas PBS commissioner and a member of the Arkansas Bar Foundation Trust Committee. She previously served as a member of the Council of the American Bar Association Section on Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, the American Bar Association Commission on Homelessness and Poverty and the National Association of Law Placement Foundation Board. She is a member of the Harold Flowers Law Society, the International Women's Forum, Arkansas Forum Executive Committee and a board member of the Arkansas Women's Hall of Fame. She formerly served on the boards of WelcomeHealth and Bikes, Blues and Barbecue of Northwest Arkansas.

A member of the Phi Alpha Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., she previously served in leadership roles including vice president and president of the chapter. She has also served as a member of the Law School Admissions Council Board of Trustees, the Interfaith Worker Justice Board, the Advisory Committee on Corporate Social Responsibility of the Evangelical Lutheran Church and as an anti-racism trainer for the Women of the Evangelical Lutheran Church.

She has received various awards for her outstanding service, including the 2023 W. Harold Flowers Law Society Carrying on the Legacy Award, 2023 Association of American Law Schools Ruth Bader Ginsburg Lifetime Achievement Award, 2023 Lawyers of Color's Power List, the 2021 Richard S. Arnold Award for Distinguished Service in the Western District of Arkansas by the Eighth Circuit Bar Association, 2021 University of Iowa Hancher-Finkbine Medallion, the 2018 American Bar Association Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of Achievement Award, 2017 Arkansas Bar Association Presidential Award of Excellence, 2017 Alpha Kappa Alpha Mary Louise Williams Guiding Star for Public Service Award, 2016 Community Leader Award, 2016 Northwest Arkansas Worker Justice Center, 2014 Individual Educator Achievement Award, Northwest Arkansas Democratic Black Caucus, the 2012 American Bar Association Spirit of Excellence Award, 2007 Arthur A. Fletcher Award of the American Association for Affirmative Action, 2005 Arkansas Bar Association Outstanding Lawyer-Citizen Award and the U of A 2004 Faculty Distinguished Achievement Award in Public Service.

She is a recipient of the Northwest Arkansas Martin Luther King Commission Individual Achievement Award and was recognized as one of Diverse: Issues in Higher Education's 25 Women Making a Difference. She was also named a Woman of Influence by Arkansas Business and as one of the most influential lawyers on Twitter by On Being a Black Lawyer. She has been featured as one of Arkansas' 12 Most Powerful Women by AY Magazine and Talk Business Quarterly. Nance is also the inaugural recipient of the Harold Flowers Association's Judge Andree Layton Roaf Award of Excellence and a recipient of the U of A Women Law Students' Gayle Pettus Pontz Award. In 2009, the Black Law Student Association Chapter named its chapter after Dean Nance.

About the University of Arkansas School of Law: The law school offers a competitive J.D. and is home to the nation's first LL.M. program in agriculture and food law. Led by nationally recognized faculty, the school offers students pro bono work, live client clinics, public service fellowships, competitions, and much more. Students also benefit from our location in one of the fastest growing, most livable, and economically vibrant regions in the U.S., and from our corporate externship partnerships with Fortune 500 companies. Our alumni have gone on to become judges, senators, and governors, and we serve communities throughout our state and nation through programs such as the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative. Our longstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion is exemplified by the Six Pioneers, the first Black students to attend law school in the South. Follow us at @uarklaw. 

About the University of Arkansas: As Arkansas' flagship institution, the U of A provides an internationally competitive education in more than 200 academic programs. Founded in 1871, the U of A contributes more than $2.2 billion to Arkansas' economy through the teaching of new knowledge and skills, entrepreneurship and job development, discovery through research and creative activity while also providing training for professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the U of A among the few U.S. colleges and universities with the highest level of research activity. U.S. News & World Report ranks the U of A among the top public universities in the nation. See how the U of A works to build a better world at Arkansas Research and Economic Development News.


Lyndsay Bradshaw, assistant director of executive communications
University Relations

Mark Rushing, associate vice chancellor
University Relations


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