Nancy Oliver takes Helm as Interim Associate Dean
“When I come in the doors of the College of Law—from the time when I was a student here to today—I feel a twinge of excitement,” said new Interim Associate Dean for Curriculum and Student Affairs, Nancy Oliver. “Here at UC Law we have the opportunity to be part of the intellectual community of the University, the law community of Cincinnati, and the broader community. It’s a wonderful College—both academically and intellectually. Our faculty and students have created a strong academic environment and engage inexciting research. Our students also have important experiential learning opportunities , through our clinics, externships, and other programs, and they leave well-prepared for legal careers.”
A change 25+ years in the making, the June 30, 2008, retirement of long-time Associate Dean Barbara G. Watts opened the door for Nancy Oliver to step into the temporary role of Interim Associate Dean. “I’m very excited about serving the College of law in this new position,” said Oliver, ‘90. As one of the law school’s Legal Research and Writing professors, she has many years of experience working with first-year law students. This new position, though, enables her to also work closely with upper- level students as they transition through law school.
“I love teaching,” said Dean Oliver. “But this new role enables me to expand my skill set and be even more valuable to the College of Law.”
A native of Coshocton, OH (population 11,700 approximately), Dean Oliver received her BS/BA in 1983 from the University of Central Florida after initially matriculating at the University of Cincinnati. So how did lawyering come about?
“In retrospect,” said Oliver, “I chose to study law because I wanted to learn more about the legal system and how law influences society.”
Starting A Law Career
She chose UC Law because of its small size and strong sense of community. She also was attracted by its strong human rights program. “I was very interested in working with the Urban Morgan Institute. I enjoyed learning from guest speakers who were engaged in important human rights work around the world. It gave me a broader perspective about the world and the impact of the law.”
While at law school, Oliver worked as a Fellow at the Urban Morgan Institute, along with being an Articles Editor of the Human Rights Quarterly. In addition, she was a member of the Law Review and recipient of the William Worthington Prize for Best Case Note.
After law school she worked as a law clerk for Judge David A. Nelson of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. She then worked as in-house counsel for Community Mutual Insurance Company (Cincinnati, OH) and FFG Insurance Company (Dallas, TX). It was while she lived in Texas that Oliver entered academia, teaching courses in Lawyering and Legal Research and Writing at Southern Methodist University School of Law. She has worked at UC Law for the past five years teaching legal research, writing, and advocacy, and helping students hone their professional skills.
The Joy Of Teaching
“The best part about teaching is the time I get to spend with students,” Oliver said, “whether in the classroom or working with them in small groups or individually I receive the most satisfaction, however, from watching our students grow and succeed in their careers.”
Dean Oliver, along with Professors Rachel Smith and Michele Bradley, also works with the Academic Success Program. Available for any law student, the Academic Success Program helps students learn academic skills to bridge the gap from undergraduate to professional study. Working closely with upper-level student advisors from the Student Legal Education Committee, the Academic Success Program offers classes about ways to effectively prepare for class, prepare for exams, and other topics such as managing stress. Further, it offers individual counseling to students who benefit from additional assistance with developing study skills, writing exams, and transitioning to law school.
From Urban Morgan Fellow to in-house counsel to professor, Dean Oliver’s career path hasn’t been “traditional.” However, all of these positions have prepared her for her newest role as Interim Associate Dean. She commented, “Having been a faculty member for many years, I have an understanding of the needs of our students and insight into how I can best support and advise them. I also hope to be able to support the faculty as we work together to develop and refine the curriculum.”
What is she most looking forward to as Interim Associate Dean?
“I love the interaction with people,” said Oliver. “I’ll get to know the law school’s administrative team even better. I look forward to meeting with students in the fall, counseling them, and helping them to “customize” their legal education. Because we are a small law school, we have the chance to help students make choices to best suit their individual academic and career interests.”
“At hooding this year I could feel the excitement of the students and their families and it reminded me of the feeling I had when I graduated,” she said. “That is something that hasn’t changed since I graduated. Our students leave feeling well-prepared and excited about entering the legal profession.”