Press Release

Michael A. Olivas to Present the
Marla Dickerson Lecture on Public Interest

April 6, 2012

DeKalb, Ill.--Northern Illinois University College of Law will welcome Michael A. Olivas, immediate past-president of the Association of American Law Schools (AALS), to present the Marla Dickerson Lecture on Public Interest on Monday, April 16 at 3 p.m. Professor Olivas will present his lecture in the Francis X. Riley Courtroom at the Northern Illinois University College of Law, Swen Parson Hall in DeKalb.

Professor Olivas’ lecture, “Lessons Learned about the Legalization Debate, or Why Comprehensive Immigration Reform is in the Public Interest,” will focus on comprehensive immigration reform issues, a public interest topic often considered too sensitive and too political for genuine discussion. He will review the restrictionist narrative, and show why the United States mythology of immigration is deep-rooted and ingrained in longstanding policies and practices. Professor Olivas will also detail his conclusion that much of the nativist rhetoric is essentially anti-Mexican, and why it has deleterious consequences. Drawing from his 2012 NYU Press book on the Plyler decision, Professor Olivas will use changing attitudes towards undocumented children as a counter-narrative, one where greater acceptance of the children has caused both positive accomodationist policies and restrictionist reactions.

Michael A. Olivas is the William B. Bates Distinguished Chair in Law at the University of Houston Law Center and Director of the Institute for Higher Education Law and Governance at UH. He served two stints as Associate Dean of the Law Center from 2001-2004 and from 1990-95. He has also been a Visiting Professor of Law at the University of Wisconsin and the Mason Ladd Distinguished Visiting Chair at the University of Iowa College of Law. Professor Olivas holds a B.A. (Magna Cum Laude) from the Pontifical College Josephinum, an M.A. and Ph.D. from The Ohio State University, and a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center.

Professor Olivas is renowned as a leader in legal academe. He has received lifetime achievement awards from both the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) and the Hispanic Bar Association of Houston. In 2010, he was chosen as the Outstanding Immigration Professor of the Year by the National Immigration Blog Group. He has been elected to membership in the American Law Institute and the National Academy of Education, the only person to have been selected to both honor academies. He has chaired the AALS Section on Education Law three times, and has twice chaired the Section on Immigration Law. He has been awarded the Research Achievement Award (1994) by the Association for the Study of Higher Education and its Special Merit Award (2000). He has been designated as a NACUA Fellow by the National Association of College and University Attorneys and an AERA Fellow. At the national level, he has been as a Trustee of the College Board (1989-1993) and has served as a director on the MALDEF Board since 2002.

Professor Olivas is the author or co-author of fourteen books, including No Undocumented Child Left Behind (NYU Press, 2012) on the subject of undocumented immigrant children and Suing Alma Mater (Johns Hopkins University Press) will be published on the subject of higher education and the U.S. Supreme Court. He has served on the editorial board of more than 20 scholarly journals, including The Review of Higher Education, The Journal of College and University Law, and The Journal of Higher Education.

The Marla Dickerson Public Interest Lecture Series was established to further the mission of our law school and appropriately honor the spirit of our former student, the late Marla Rene Dickerson (1969-1994). Funded by a donation from the Dickerson family, this lecture series brings nationally known speakers to the Northern Illinois University College of Law to discuss current issues relating to public interest.

There will be a reception following the lecture. The lecture and reception are free and open to the public. 1 hour of CLE credit will be given for this lecture.


For more information, contact:
Melody Mitchell
Alumni Events & Public Relations
(815) 753-9655 or