Penelope Andrews ′84 LL.M.
On the Forefront
For Albany Law School President and Dean Penelope Andrews ’84 LL.M., studying human rights issues at Columbia Law School in the early 1980s was an especially enriching experience. The anti-apartheid movement was gaining momentum at the time, and the South African native remembers the Morningside Heights campus as a hotbed of protests.
“When I was politically active in South Africa’s anti-apartheid movement, there was always a fear of persecution,” says Andrews. “Being at Columbia felt so much freer. I really saw what it was like to live in a country and to do human rights work without the fear of state-sponsored repression.”
Andrews, who was the first of her siblings to graduate from high school, returned to Johannesburg in the late ’80s to work at the Legal Resources Centre with its founder, Arthur Chaskalson, a former Columbia Law School visiting professor who went on to become the first president of the South African Constitutional Court.
After a teaching career that led her to Australia, Scotland, Canada, and Germany, Andrews decided to settle in the United States, where she saw connections between South Africa’s struggle for racial equality and the American civil rights movement. A scholar specializing in equality issues, she is the author of From Cape Town to Kabul: Rethinking Strategies for Pursuing Women’s Human Rights, and has taught law for nearly three decades. Andrews served as the City University of New York School of Law’s associate dean of academic affairs before her appointment at Albany Law School.
During her time as president and dean, Andrews has focused on guiding the independent, non–university affiliated law school through a complicated, challenging time for legal education. “I’ve genuinely tried to create a student-centered culture here,” she says, “and to develop a shared responsibility for the professional development of our graduates.”