Lani Guinier '71, former nominee to head the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Justice Department, accepted a tenure appointment at the Law School last Friday.
When she begins teaching this fall, Guinier will become the first black woman to be a tenured professor in the 181-year history of the Law School. About three years ago, Gottlieb Professor of Law Elizabeth Warren, who is of Native American descent, become the first woman with a minority background to be tenured.
In a telephone interview yesterday from Philadelphia, where she currently teaches at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, Guinier praised Harvard as a "world-class institution with world class resources."
"I'm looking forward to joining the faculty, working with colleagues interested in combining the life of the academic and the life of a public intellectual," Guinier said.
Guinier also said she looked forward to "training future leaders of the next generation."
Dean of the Law School Robert C. Clark said he believes that Guinier's research interests would make an important contribution to the Law School.
"The main consideration was that we were looking for someone [who was] in voting-rights law and was also a good teacher," Clark said.
"We've considered Guinier for a couple of years. Most faculty members were very supportive," said Clark, who added that Guinier's appointment was some years in coming.
Harvard Law School gave Guinier the offer in the spring of 1996.
"I had a long and very deliberate negotiation with Clark. But the real delay was that I was writing a book...I only finished it in December," said Guinier of her delay in accepting the offer.
Guinier's soon-to-be-published book, Lift Every Voice: Turning a Civil Rights Setback into a New Vision of Social Justice, uses her experience with her nomination to the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department as part of an examination of the past and present civil rights movement, according to Guinier.
Guinier became a household name in late April 1993 when President Bill Clinton, a friend and classmate from Yale Law School, nominated her Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights.
Guinier was promptly attacked by right-wingers who alleged her writings, such as her Virginia Law Review article on cumulative voting. "No Two Seats: The Elusive Quest for Political Equality," supported racial quotas.
Under pressure, Clinton withdrew his nomination two months later. Deval L. Patrick '78 ultimately replaced Guinier.
Guinier said she has attempted to address the issue of her nomination in her book.