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Legal scholar Michael Olivas will speak April 16 at NIU College of Law’s public interest lecture

April 9, 2012
Michael A. Olivas

Michael A. Olivas

The NIU College of Law will welcome Michael A. Olivas, immediate past-president of the Association of American Law Schools, to present the Marla Dickerson Lecture on Public Interest.

Professor Olivas will present his lecture at 3 p.m. Monday, April 16, in the Francis X. Riley Courtroom of Swen Parson Hall.

Olivas’ lecture, “Lessons Learned about the Legalization Debate, or Why Comprehensive Immigration Reform is in the Public Interest,” will focus on comprehensive immigration reform issues, a public interest topic often considered too sensitive and too political for genuine discussion.

He will review the restrictionist narrative, and show why the U.S. mythology of immigration is deep-rooted and ingrained in longstanding policies and practices. He also will detail his conclusion that much of the nativist rhetoric is essentially anti-Mexican, and why it has deleterious consequences.

Drawing from his 2012 NYU Press book on the Plyler decision, Olivas will use changing attitudes toward undocumented children as a counter-narrative, one where greater acceptance of the children has caused both positive accomodationist policies and restrictionist reactions.

The Marla Dickerson Public Interest Lecture Series was established to further the mission of NIU’s  law school and appropriately honor the spirit of  a former student, the late Marla Rene Dickerson (1969-1994). Funded by a donation from the Dickerson family, this lecture series brings nationally known speakers to the NIU College of Law to discuss current issues relating to public interest.

There will be a reception following the lecture. The lecture and reception are free and open to the public.  One hour of CLE credit will be given for this lecture.

Olivas is the William B. Bates Distinguished Chair in Law at the University of Houston Law Center and director of the Institute for Higher Education Law and Governance at UH.

He served two stints as associate dean of the Law Center from 2001-2004 and from 1990-95. He also has been a visiting professor of law at the University of Wisconsin and the Mason Ladd Distinguished Visiting Chair at the University of Iowa College of Law. Professor Olivas holds a B.A. (magna cum laude) from the Pontifical College Josephinum, an M.A. and Ph.D. from The Ohio State University, and a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center.

Professor Olivas has received lifetime achievement awards from both the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the Hispanic Bar Association of Houston. In 2010, he was chosen as the Outstanding Immigration Professor of the Year by the National Immigration Blog Group. He has been elected to membership in the American Law Institute and the National Academy of Education, the only person to have been selected to both honor academies.

He is the author or co-author of 14 books, including “No Undocumented Child Left Behind” (NYU Press, 2012) on the subject of undocumented immigrant children. “Suing Alma Mater” (Johns Hopkins University Press) will be published on the subject of higher education and the U.S. Supreme Court.

For more information on the April 16 lecture, call (815) 753-9655 or email [email protected].