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September/1/2012

Penelope Andrews Appointed New Dean at ALS

Penelope Andrews Appointed New Dean at Albany Law School
By Nick Crounse

Penelope "Penny" Andrews began her tenure as Albany Law School's 17th President & Dean in July. She is the school’s first female dean since it opened in 1851.

Dean Andrews grew up in apartheid South Africa, fighting for equal rights. Her scholarship centers on justice for women and people of color across the globe. When asked about her passions, she cites the education of future lawyers, and the importance of compelling students to reach their highest potential.

Dean Andrews came to Albany Law after serving as associate dean for academic affairs and professor of law at the City University of New York (CUNY) School of Law.

“A new dean brings new excitement and a propensity for change, and we all have to take advantage of this special time for all levels of the school,” said Dean Andrews.
Born in apartheid South Africa, Dean Andrews attended and graduated Catholic school before studying law at the University of Natal.

She has since traveled the globe, teaching and writing in Germany, Australia, Holland, Scotland, Canada and South Africa. She has advocated for the rights of Australia’s indigenous population, people of color in South Africa, and disenfranchised women in Queens, N.Y.

An annual award in her name—The Penelope E. Andrews Human Rights Award—is given by the South African law school at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. In 2005 she was a finalist for a vacancy on the Constitutional Court of South Africa.

She has consulted for the U.N. Development Fund for Women, as well as for the Ford Foundation in Johannesburg on labor law programs. She earned her B.A. and LL.B. from the University of Natal, Durban, South Africa, and her LL.M. from Columbia University School of Law.

As a student activist in South Africa, the civil rights movement fueled her desire to go to the United States.

“The civil rights movement excited my views on the possibilities of law,” she said, which led her to Columbia University. She considered returning to South Africa to help the struggle against apartheid, but chose to avoid possible political persecution and instead moved to Australia, where she gained tenure at La Trobe University, while also supporting the indigenous population in their struggle for equality and to gain land rights.

“It taught me to understand new perspectives around race relations,” she said.

Dean Andrews left Australia in 1993 to teach at CUNY, where she continued her work incorporating human rights law into domestic constitutions, with a focus on Africa. She stayed at CUNY for 14 years, and then took the position of director of international studies at Valparaiso Law School. In 2010 she returned to CUNY for her academic dean position.

“What I’ve gained in my international teaching has been the facility to appreciate the similarities and differences in legal jurisdictions, while focusing on the strengths and lapses of the American legal system,” said Dean Andrews. “I have acquired a deep understanding of the cultural context of legal systems.”

“I’ve also developed a strong global network that will likely benefit Albany Law School.”






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