Published: Aug. 11, 2020

Provost Russell L. Moore announced today that S. James Anaya will not seek a second term as dean of the University of Colorado Law School and will continue as a member of the faculty when his five-year term ends on June 30, 2021. A search process for a new dean will be announced during the fall semester with the goal of having a new dean identified by May 2021.

“I want to thank Jim for his commitment to Colorado Law and recognize a few of his many achievements,” Moore said. “During his tenure as dean, Jim created a range of programs to make Colorado Law more diverse, inclusive and accessible for students from the full spectrum of economic, social and cultural backgrounds. As a result, Colorado Law welcomed its most ethnically and racially diverse incoming classes in the school’s history in 2017, 2019 and soon 2020.” 

Moore also recognized Anaya’s work establishing the Leaders in Law and Community Fellowship program in 2017, which provides full scholarships to law students from backgrounds underrepresented in legal education and in the legal profession. 

Anaya enhanced the law school’s international connections and offerings by reinstating the school’s master of laws degree program and developing it to attract talented international attorneys; collaborating with the United Nations to host the 10th anniversary celebration of the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; and working with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to host a session of public hearings­­—the first time such hearings were held at a law school—which welcomed hundreds of world leaders and human rights activists to Boulder in 2018.

In response to the groundswell of protests against race-based police brutality and calls to dismantle racism in America, this July Anaya launched the Anti-Racism and Representation Initiative, which sets forth a range of programs and actions to confront racism and advance the representation and genuine inclusion of diverse groups at Colorado Law and in the legal profession.

“I am immensely grateful for the opportunity to lead a great law school with many wonderful people,” said Anaya. “I am also grateful to all those on the faculty and staff, and to our alumni, who have helped me in multiple ways. Together, we have faced many challenges and worked hard to address them. I’ve been honored to serve as the dean of Colorado Law, and it will be my privilege to continue to be part of this law school community in the years ahead.”

Anaya joined the Colorado Law faculty as dean and Charles Inglis Thomson professor of law in 2016 and was designated a distinguished professor by the University of Colorado Board of Regents in 2018. Before becoming dean, Anaya served as the James J. Lenoir Professor of Human Rights Law and Policy at the University of Arizona from 1999 until 2016, and on the faculty of the University of Iowa from 1988 until 1999. Additionally, he has been a visiting professor at the Harvard Law School, the University of Toronto and the University of Tulsa.

From May 2008 until June 2014, Anaya served as the United Nations special rapporteur on the rights of Indigenous peoples, where he monitored the human rights conditions of Indigenous peoples worldwide, addressed situations in which their rights were being violated, and promoted practical measures to secure Indigenous peoples' rights. For his work in that role, he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

He has received numerous other recognitions, going back to early in his career when he practiced law in Albuquerque, New Mexico, representing Native American peoples and other minority groups. For his work during that period, Barrister magazine, a national publication of the American Bar Association, named him as one of "20 young lawyers who make a difference."

Anaya received his law degree from the Harvard Law School and his bachelor's degree from the University of New Mexico.