Diversity, Equity, and Community

At Vanderbilt Law School, we are committed to ensuring that all students, staff, and faculty feel themselves to be fully a part of our community. This means absolutely zero tolerance for racism, discrimination or bigotry of any sort. Priding itself on a culture of collegiality, warmth, mutual respect and decency, we seek to maintain a community that fosters inclusivity, diversity and equity for all.

Our community brings together those with diverse backgrounds, perspectives, identities, and preferences, and each member contributes to school life through their own distinctive set of viewpoints, experiences, and ideas.

We celebrate this diversity. We cherish it.

We believe that it can fully express itself both in and out of the classroom. Key to maintaining our inclusive and vibrant school culture are the various student affinity groups, the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Council and the Vanderbilt Bar Association. Each provides a forum for bringing students together to encourage active collaboration, connection, friendship, and support.

DEC Mission Image


The Office of Diversity, Equity, and Community coordinates the law school's efforts to foster a community that fully reflects its culture of anti-racism, non-discrimination, diversity, equity and belonging for all students, staff and faculty. DEC works with the Vanderbilt Bar Association and the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Council as well as with student affinity groups to ensure that our students feel supported, fully represented, and deeply valued.

Beyond the law building, DEC represents the law school within Vanderbilt University and liaises with the Vanderbilt Office for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. Through this role, DEC serves to build a central node of action, accountability, and transparency in relation to the school's efforts to promote anti-racism, non-discrimination, inclusivity, and belonging.

DEC’s current initiatives include support for the Dean’s Speaker Series on Race and Discrimination, the VLS Book Club on Racial Justice and Civil Rights, the EDI Council/VBA/DEC Mentorship Program for Underrepresented Students, scholarship and resources for students working on public-interest projects, promoting careers-related programming, and developing initiatives which foster educational equity.

Mentoring & Leadership

  • ONElevate Leadership Program

    ONElevate is a highly selective leadership training program for Vanderbilt 1L’s, specifically focused on underrepresented, first-generation, and other law students with unique personal stories and challenges. The program aims to:

    • Provide a collaborative learning experience for underrepresented populations in law school and beyond,
    • Promote a culture of diverse leadership,
    • Remove barriers to success, and
    • Teach skills necessary to become active leaders in the law school and legal profession.

    Each year, the program selects a cohort of ten first-year students based on their meeting qualifying criteria and how well they demonstrate promise as a future leader. Students are each matched two mentors: a current 2L or 3L student and a prominent local attorney or judge. The program entails:

    • Pre-orientation bootcamp
    • Regular meetings and communication with student and attorney/judge mentors
    • Monthly leadership training workshop and student support session
    • Special private meetings with high profile law school visitors
    • Invitations to special law school events
    • Local service opportunities
    • Receptions at the beginning and end of program

    Please visit ONEelevate Leadership Program or contact the Office of Student Affairs for detailed information.

  • Mentorship Program for Underrepresented Students (2L and 3L)

    The VLS Mentorship Program for Underrepresented Students provides eligible 2Ls and 3Ls with a dedicated VLS alumni mentor throughout their time in law school.

    • Mentees receive guidance from their mentor about law school life and navigating the pathways of the legal profession.
    • We match mentors and mentees in accordance with their expressed professional interests and backgrounds.

    Through a long-term partnership between mentor-mentee, we hope that our students will, in due course, grow to serve as mentors to those that follow in their steps.

    Students who have questions about the program, may contact the Office of Student Affairs. Alumni who have questions or would like more information may contact Eileen Cunningham.

Dean's Lecture Melissa Murray
The Dean's Lecture Series annually convenes scholars and thought leaders whose work provides innovative perspectives on race and discrimination.

The series provides our community with foundational knowledge on race, civil rights, discrimination on the basis of gender and sexual orientation, and critical historical milestones and their importance. We hope the series will ground our understanding of present-day discourse in a deeper, historically-informed context to highlight social and political movements, impetus for legal changes, and ongoing areas of contention and struggle in race, civil rights and discrimination. Events are free and open to the public.

Contact Us

    No matches

    Do you have a question, comment or suggestion? Write us!