Law dean reflects on her first year at Loyola
María Pabón López talked to Rev. Lawrence W. Moore, S.J. the Secretary/Treasurer of the Loyola University Board of Trustees at an event organized by Loyola Stuart H. Smith Law Clinic and Center for Social Justice. Dean Lopez is an expert in immigration and she currently serves on the Diversity Committee of the Louisiana State Bar Association. Wadner Pierre/Photo Editor
Maria Lopez is feeling at home after maintaining the position of dean of Loyola's law school for a little over a year.
Lopez started her work as dean in June of 2011 and has impressed other members of the law school with her vision for the future of the school.
"She definitely has the school's best interests at heart," said law professor Kathryn Lorio, who was on the dean selection committee.
"Whenever you come into a new job and you make changes, it's not always comfortable. But I feel (her changes) are all extremely well motivated and she's trying to look at the big picture."
One of Lopez's priorities as dean is to make sure that students and faculty are able to feel good about their experience at Loyola law.
"We want to take the school to the next level in terms of continuing to support the students and faculty and making sure that the alumni have a school they can continue to be proud of," she said. "Some of the law schools, people graduate and they're kind of luke- warm about their experience. And this law school is a special place, and it does feel like a community."
Lopez, who was born on an air force base in Okinawa, Japan and didn't come to the continental US until she was 18, said that she considers the law school and the city to be her home.
"I was born on an island; but not my own island Puerto Rico. I was born on Okinawa. And now New Orleans is my island," she said "It always feels like there's so many wonderful things you can do."
Though Lopez is working with this goal of moving the school forward, she didn't take the position wanting to make complete overhauls to the law school. She says she likes how the school had been operating under the previous dean and looked to make more subtle changes instead.
"I made some new hires and I reorganized that staff," she said. "We have new staff in the office of admissions. They come from two different law schools, so they bring different experiences and ideas."
Lopez also said that bringing a new perspective was important since the last staff members in that position had been there for a long period of time and have since retired.
In addition to changes made to staff, Lopez also oversaw the creation of the student lounge at the law school, a minor adjustment in the usage of rooms that she hopes will make students feel more comfortable on the Broadway campus.
The changes Lopez has made so far aren't drastic, but with the way the school has functioned in the past and with the help of the staff around her, she thinks the school will be able to deal with the issues it faces.
"These are undoubtedly challenging times, but we are well positioned to deal with those challenges," she said "I know I have that wonderful support from alumni and then, of course, from the staff and faculty."
Hasani Grayson can be reached at email@example.com
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