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Adrienne Davis

William M. Van Cleve Professor of Law; Founder & Co-director of the Law & Culture Initiative; Professor of Organizational Behavior and Leadership, Olin Business School

Adrienne Davis holds a dual appointment as the William M. Van Cleve Professor in the School of Law and Professor of Organizational Behavior in Olin Business School. She also holds courtesy appointments in the departments of African and African-American Studies, History, Sociology, and Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies in the College of Arts & Sciences. Davis is a graduate of Yale College and Yale Law School, where she served on the Executive Committee of the Yale Law Journal.

Professor Davis served as the Vice Provost for Faculty and Institutional Diversity from 2010 – 2021. From 2015 until 2017 she chaired the University’s Commission on Diversity and Inclusion, which was charged with designing a university-wide plan for diversity. She worked closely with stakeholders at the University on a range of institutional policies, initiatives, and programs, including ones that support students and staff.

As a teacher and scholar Davis focuses on “the law of daily life,” or how law regulates and affects people’s daily interactions, decisions, and identities. She teaches Trusts & Estates, Contracts, and a variety of legal theory seminars, including ones on Slavery & the Law, Feminist Legal Theory, and Law & Literature. At the University of North Carolina, she received the law school’s Frederick B. McCall Award for Teaching Excellence.

Davis is renowned for her scholarship and teaching on gender and race relations; theories of justice and reparations; feminist and critical race theory; and law and popular culture. She has written extensively on the gendered and private law dimensions of American slavery, the legal regulation of intimacy, and how culture and law converge to distribute justice. She has published articles in the Stanford Law Review, the Columbia Law Review, and the California Law Review, as well as numerous other articles and book chapters. She is the co-editor of the book, Privilege Revealed: How Invisible Preference Undermines America (NYU Press). At Washington University she has convened three special issues for the law school’s Journal of Law & Policy. Davis founded and is co-director of the Law, Identity & Culture Initiative and is the inaugural director of the University’s Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity & Equity. She also directed the Black Sexual Economies Project at the law school’s Center for the Interdisciplinary Study of Work and Social Capital from 2009-2013. She is the past recipient of a Bellagio Fellowship from the Rockefeller Foundation, as well as two research grants from the Ford Foundation on black women and labor, and women, slavery, sexuality, and religion.

Davis is active in her professional associations. She is currently a member of the AALS Executive Committee for Section on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity. She is a past Chair of the Law & Humanities Section of the American Association of Law Schools and served on the organization’s Membership Review Committee. She has been a Distinguished Lecturer for the Organization of American Historians for many years, and for two years chaired the Littleton-Griswold Prize Committee of the American Historical Association.

Finally, Davis is deeply involved in several St. Louis civic institutions. She is Secretary to the Art Museum’s Board of Commissioners and also serves on the Board of Trustees of Opera Theatre St. Louis, the St. Louis Fashion Fund, Our Little Haven, december literary magazine, and the St. Louis Visionary Awards. She is a member of the Links, Inc., St. Louis Chapter, and for two years chaired their Arts Facet.

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