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University Gazette

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Shaw appointed director of Center for Civil Rights

TedShaw_400Columbia University Law School professor Theodore M. “Ted” Shaw will become the second director of Carolina’s Center for Civil Rights, effective July 1.

The position had been open since founding director Julius Chambers, who died last year, stepped down in 2010. Shaw will also be the first Julius Chambers Distinguished Professor of Law, funded by an endowment grant from the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation.

Previously Shaw served as director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund (LDF), the legal arm of the civil rights movement founded by Thurgood Marshall, who later became an associate justice of the Supreme Court. Shaw joined the LDF in 1982 to litigate school desegregation, voting rights and other civil rights cases, and he served as director from 2004 to 2008.

Shaw, a graduate of Wesleyan University and Columbia Law School, began his career as a trial attorney in the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division. At the LDF, he litigated at the trial and appellate levels, including the Supreme Court, and established LDF’s Western Regional Office in Los Angeles.

He was counsel for African American students in the University of Michigan undergraduate affirmative action admissions case heard by the Supreme Court in 2003. He also played a key role in initiating the review of Michigan Law School’s admissions policies and served on committees that adopted the plan that was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.

School of Law Dean Jack Boger said it was a challenge to find as a successor to Chambers someone with the ability to serve as a full faculty member while also having experience as director of a litigation and advocacy center.

“Most talented civil rights experts are good at either teaching or at litigating,” he said. “Ted Shaw excels at both.”

Shaw said he was drawn to UNC and to the state of North Carolina in part because North Carolina is a bellwether state when it comes to civil rights. “There’s work to do here,” he said.

The junction of poverty and race relates to civil rights, Shaw said, and he looks forward to possible collaborations between UNC’s Center for Civil Rights and other social justice advocates at Carolina and across the state.

“Ted knows everyone across the country in the civil rights field,” Boger said. “We’re thrilled to have the chance to work with someone so deeply experienced who is so humane and compassionate.”