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Announcement of the Appointment of Joseph D. Farris III as Assistant Dean for Diversity Equity and Inclusion

6/28/2021

I am pleased to announce that Joseph D. Farris III will be joining the Widener University Delaware Law School on July 1, 2021, to assume the newly-created position of Assistant Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

I thank the entire Search Committee, particularly co-chairs Iva Ferrell and Alicia Kelly, all members of the Delaware Faculty and Administration, and those who assisted in the search from the Widener University Main Campus, particularly University Chief Diversity Officer and Director of Multicultural Student Affairs Micki Davis, for their tireless efforts in the last months during the search process.

I am delighted to welcome Joseph Farris back to the Delaware Law School to assume this important post, advancing the all-important mission set forth in the Law School’s Strategic Plan for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

Joseph received his B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Michigan in 2003. He then served as an Officer in the United States Navy from 2003 to 2007, rising to the Lieutenant (0-3) rank. After the Navy, he worked as an engineer in private industry.

Joseph enrolled in the Extended Division of the Widener University Delaware Law School in 2015. He graduated from the Law School in 2019 Magna Cum Laude.  He received Certificates of Achievement, for the highest grade in the course, in Contracts, Property I, Administrative Law, Family Law, Intellectual Property, Federal Tax Law, and Business Principles.

While at the Law School he participated in the Intensive Trial Advocacy Program, the Veteran’s Law Clinic, served as parliamentarian to the Black Law Students Association, volunteered for Wills for Heroes, and served at the Sojourner’s Place Homeless Shelter during the BLSA Martin Luther King days of service. He was a Board Member and Copy Editor of the Delaware Journal of Corporate Law.

Joseph received numerous honors and awards while at the Law School. He was selected by Widener University President Julie Wollman for the prestigious President’s Award.  His honors also included Phi Kappa Phi, the Dean’s Award, Dean’s Honors, the American College of Bankruptcy Distinguished Law Student Award for the Third Circuit, and the Delaware Journal of Corporate Law Donald M. Pease Best Student Article Memorial Award, for his law journal publication, Note, Competing Interests of a Government Appointed Public-Private Partnership Board of a Nonprofit Corporation, 43 Del. J. Corp. L.  551 (2019).  He received multiple scholarship recognitions, including the Delaware State Bar Association Haile L. Alford Excellence Award, the Delaware Barristers Association Louis L. Redding Bar Scholarship, the Federal Circuit Bar Association Scholarship, a National Black Law Students Association Education Scholarship, and the Camden County Bar Foundation Rosetti Award.

In 2016 Joseph interned for the Honorable United States District Judge Sue L. Robinson of the United States District Court for the District of Delaware. In 2018-19 Joseph served as a Josiah Oliver Wolcott Fellow to the Honorable Karen L. Valihura, Justice of the Supreme Court of Delaware.

Upon graduating from Delaware Law, Joseph passed the Delaware Bar Exam and began work at Potter Anderson & Corroon LLP, in Wilmington, where his practice focused on corporate transactions, intellectual property, bankruptcy, and restructuring matters. 

Joseph’s leadership and service in the community has included participation as a Grants Committee Member for the Delaware Community Foundation; work as a Board Member and Secretary to the Delaware Community Development Corporation; participation as an Emergence STEM Career Day presenter at the Resurrection Center in Wilmington; service as a Prison Ministry Volunteer at the George H. Wells Correctional Facility in Thornton, Pennsylvania; participation with the W.L. Gore & Associates African American Business Network Core Leadership Team, Veterans Business Network Core Leadership Team, and Diversity Champion and Mentor program; leadership as Engagement and Advocacy Committee Co-Chair for the United Way of Delaware; service as a volunteer for the Revive the Community Impact Program; and service as a Youth Pastor at Greater Victory Sounds of Praise and the Praise Center Church.

Joseph brings to this new position a unique combination of experience, energy, skill, and passion. He has throughout his career evidenced a passionate commitment to social justice and the advancement of diversity, equity, and inclusion in many sectors of society. As a recent graduate of the Delaware Law School, he knows the Law School community well and the challenges that face Delaware Law students, including the special challenges facing Extended Division students who are often parenting and working full-time while pursuing their legal education. 

In his efforts to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion at the Law School, and more broadly, within the legal profession, Joseph will be working with the Delaware Law Faculty, the Delaware Law School’s Standing Committee on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, the Chief Diversity Officer of Widener University, the Delaware Law School Deans, Delaware Law School student leaders, student organizations, and students, Delaware alumni, and the bench and bar in Delaware and the region.

The creation of this new position is one indicia of the Delaware Law School’s deep commitment and promise to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion.  The hiring of Joseph Farris to fill that position marks a critical step forward in turning that promise into reality.

--Dean Rod Smolla