Thomas W. Mitchell, J.D., LL.M., professor of law and co-director of the Program in Real Estate and Community Development Law, has agreed to serve as interim dean of the Texas A&M University School of Law. He will assume this position on August 1, 2017. He follows Andrew P. Morriss, J.D., Ph.D., who has agreed to serve as the founding dean of the School of Innovation and vice president for entrepreneurship and economic development at Texas A&M University.
Professor Mitchell joined the Texas A&M University faculty in 2016. He earned a B.A. in English from Amherst College, a J.D. from Howard University School of Law, and an LL.M. from the University of Wisconsin Law School, where he also served as a William H. Hastie Fellow. He previously served on the faculty of the University of Wisconsin Law School where he held the Frederick W. and Vi Miller Chair in Law and also served on the faculty of the DePaul University College of Law in addition to serving as a visiting research fellow at the American Bar Foundation and at the University of Chicago.
Professor Mitchell’s primary research interests focus on real property issues that impact poor and disadvantaged communities, many of which are rural. More broadly, he researches issues of economic inequality, specifically focusing on how the ability or inability of individuals or communities to build and retain assets can impact inequality.
Professor Mitchell has received numerous awards, including the Elizabeth Hurlock Beckman Award recognizing him as one of ten transformational educators in the United States who inspired a former student to create an organization that has conferred lasting benefits within particular disadvantaged communities, and the Spirit of Land Rich Award recognizing his work on behalf of minority landowners. Professor Mitchell also has been widely acclaimed within and outside of the academy for serving as the principal drafter of the Uniform Partition of Heirs Property Act (UPHPA).The UPHPA is a model state statute designed to provide low- to moderate-income and otherwise disadvantaged families with more secure property rights that will better enable these families to maintain ownership of their real property holdings or at least to maintain much more of the real estate wealth associated with such property ownership. Since it was promulgated in 2010 by the Uniform Law Commission, ten states (including five southern states) have enacted the UPHPA into law with Texas becoming the most recent state to do so when Governor Greg Abbott signed it into law on May 29, 2017.
A national search for the permanent dean will begin this fall upon the formation of the search advisory committee in accordance with University Rule 12.99.99.M5. The search committee will be chaired by Dean Mark Welsh of the Bush School of Government and Public Policy.