WSU law dean Benson resigning to lead Ross initiative

Kim Kozlowski
The Detroit News

Jocelyn Benson, the dean of Wayne State University Law School, is stepping down this month to serve as CEO of the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality — a venture founded by real estate developer and philanthropist Stephen M. Ross and led by professional sports organizations to improve race relations in America.

Benson also will serve as a special adviser on philanthropic investments to Ross, a WSU law school alum whose total donations of $1.1 billion to higher education rank behind only those of fellow American billionaire Michael Bloomberg.

Additionally, Benson will serve as director of the Levin Center at Wayne Law, established in 2005 to educate law students, lawmakers and other public servants on bipartisan techniques to oversee public and private activities. She will co-teach a course on Legislative Oversight with former U.S. Sen. Carl Levin.

Benson said she is grateful for the opportunity to serve as WSU’s law school dean for four years,and proud that in that time Wayne Law has risen to be ranked as the second most prestigious law school in Michigan.

“We’ve also seen a steady increase in our enrollment and the credentials of our incoming students while keeping the cost of tuition affordable through increased scholarship opportunities for all of our students,” Benson said. “And I am proud that we launched several new clinics, externships, programs and centers, including the Levin Center at Wayne Law, which I’m excited to have the opportunity to now lead.”

WSU Provost Keith Whitfield will meet with the law school faculty to discuss appointing an interim dean. A national search will be launched to replace Benson, with a goal of having her replacement take office in June.

Benson, a Harvard Law School graduate, has been a member of WSU’s law school faculty since 2005. Before serving as dean, Benson was an associate professor and associate director of the law school’s Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights.

She is founder and executive director of the nonpartisan Michigan Center for Election Law, which hosts projects that support transparency and integrity in elections; serves on the Southern Poverty Law Center board of directors and is founder and president of Military Spouses of Michigan.

Benson also made national headlines in April when she completed the Boston Marathon while eight months pregnant. She ran for Michigan secretary of state as a Democrat in 2010.