Felicidades are definitely in order as Cristina Rodriguez will become Yale’s first Latina tenured Law professor in its almost two hundred year history on January 28th. Teaching as an associate professor at NYU Law School, where some students affectionately called her “C. Rod”, she returns to her undergrad and law school alma mater to hold this prestigious position. Blazing an inspirational path, the laundry list of accolades is extensive.
She was a Rhodes Scholar, going to Oxford University in England to complete a Masters of Letters in Modern History and clerked for Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and U.S. Court of Appeals Justice David S. Tatel. As if that wasn’t impressive enough, she also served as deputy assistant attorney general in the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel.
Garnering national media attention, Cristina’s expertise was called upon by Katie Couric and CBS News to explain Arizona’s controversial SB 1070 immigration law passed in 2010 and as Yale Law School Dean Robert Post describes her importance to the field, she is “the nation’s leading theorist of immigration law”. In her recorded lectures and published papers in law journals, she points out that “200 million around the world are migrating” and that the “Pew Hispanic Center estimates the Latino population is expected to triple to almost 30% of the U.S. population by 2050” (Rodriguez, 2008, Thomas lecture), which clearly sends a message a todos that we’ve been here, will always be here and hold great political power when unified. Cristina has outspokenly advocated that addressing the red-tape filled and fragmented institution of immigration is a Latino issue for all Latinos “to promote group solidarity and advancement of civil right agendas” (Rodriguez, 2008).
While this appointment is significant, many say there’s still much to be done to improve diversity within law school faculty. In a much quoted 2008 (granted it’s 2013 now) statistic from the Association of American Law Schools (AALS), only 339 (3.1%) of a universe of 10,780 full-time faculty law professors were Latino. Hopefully with more concerted minority recruitment efforts in the future, Cristina is opening the puerta for many others to follow in her footsteps.
By Being Latino Contributor, Carlita