Saluki Pride: Camille M. Davidson earns Women of Distinction Award

In her four years on the Southern Illinois University Carbondale campus, Simmons Law School Dean Camille M. Davidson has led efforts that have resulted in a historic $10 million gift to the law school, a six-figure gift to rename the courtroom, increased applications while maintaining high standards, and improvements in the ultimate bar passage rate and career placement.

In nominating Davidson for the university’s Women of Distinction Award, Renada Greer notes Davidson’s efforts to advance antiracism, diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives and training at the law school and on campus; establishing pipeline programs with Tougaloo College and Stillman College, two historically Black colleges and universities, and Governors State University, a minority serving institution; and establishing an in-person summer diversity pipeline program for rising college juniors and seniors from across the country. The law school also has a presence in the Metro East with the Southwestern Illinois Justice and Workforce Campus in Belleville.

“My colleagues are amazing. Together, we weather the challenges, and we thrive in spite of them,” Davidson said. “I am excited about results that we have seen in the law school and the interdisciplinary collaborations that we have put in place over the past few years.” 

The Women of Distinction Award goes to an SIU employee who demonstrates excellence and a sustained commitment to women and inclusive excellence through leadership, vision or actions or through service while seeking to create a more equitable campus and improve people’s understanding of one another.

Davidson, who will become president and dean at Mitchell Hamline School of Law in Saint Paul, Minnesota, starting July 1, said she’s “humbled and honored” by the recognition, one of nine Excellence Awards given to faculty and staff for superior scholarship and creative endeavors, teaching and service.

“SIU is an amazing institution. The history and mission are so compelling,” Davidson said. “It is awesome to work at an institution where you can see the impact that your work has on the region.”

She describes her time at SIU as “incredible,” noting the law school celebrated its golden anniversary in 2023. Davidson said it has been “exciting to see everyone — students, faculty, staff and alumni celebrate this milestone. During the 50th year celebration, we unveiled our wall of judges and celebrated the 180+ alumni who are serving or have served as members of the judiciary.”

“We reflect on the past, celebrate the present and look forward to all of the amazing opportunities that await us,” she said.


Name: Camille M. Davidson

Department and job title: dean and professor of law, SIU Simmons Law School; adjunct professor, Department of Population Sciences, SIU School of Medicine

Years at SIU Carbondale: 4

Give us the elevator pitch for your job.

SIU Simmons Law was founded in 1973 in the public interest to serve the public good. As dean, I am responsible for leading the law school. This includes defining the vision, setting priorities and ensuring that the vision and priorities of the institution are met. I work with stakeholders inside and outside of the institution, including university leaders, the legal academy, faculty, staff, students, alumni, and community friends and supporters.

What is your favorite part of the job?

I enjoy fundraising and alumni engagement. I love hearing how SIU has impacted individuals and what they love about their time here. Also, I love getting to know students, hearing about their goals and being a part of them reaching those goals. 

Why did you choose SIU?

I chose SIU because the law school is mission driven. I believe that you can’t teach a person to be from somewhere, but you can train people so that they can serve their communities. The only way to have true access to justice is to train people to serve their communities. Also, as a health law scholar, I loved that SIU also had a medical school and the opportunities that were available for collaboration. Last year, we resumed the JD/MD/PA Professionalism Day. The John and Dr. Marsha Ryan Bioethics Lecture, the National Health Law Moot Court competition and the SIU Law and Medicine Health Law Summit are some of the collaborations with the School of Medicine.

If you could presently live in a different era, such as the 1950s or 1970s or even a different time period of history, when would it be and why?

I would not go back to a different era. Every day, I am grateful for the ancestors who paved the way for me to have the opportunities that I have today.

What is your favorite song? Why do you like it?

My favorite hymn is “How Great Thou Art” because God’s grace and imagination are limitless.

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