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News Release

Vermont Law and Graduate VP Inducted into HBCU Hall of Fame

Wednesday, September 28, 2022


Shirley A. Jefferson Honored During Pre-Law Summit Event

Shirley A. Jefferson, Vermont Law and Graduate School’s vice president for community engagement and government affairs, was honored with an HBCU Pre-Law Lifetime Advocacy Award from the National HBCU Pre-Law Summit.

Founded in 2014 to address the unique issues and concerns affecting students from historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) interested in attending law school, the summit event celebrated its ninth year Sept. 16-17 in Washington, D.C.

Jefferson also moderated the panel “Getting into HBCU Law Schools: Special Considerations for HBCU College Students + Alumni.”

“I am honored to be recognized with this award and even more honored to work with and provide guidance to so many aspiring lawyers,” Jefferson said. “Vermont Law and Graduate School is committed to developing a strong, diverse community of students who are prepared to take on the challenges of our global society.”

Since graduating herself from Vermont Law and Graduate School in 1986, Jefferson, born in Selma, Alabama, has served as a practicing attorney, including as general counsel for the United Back Fund. She returned to VLGS in 1999 special assistant to the admissions department, and later as director of alumni affairs. A law professor and longtime associate dean for student affairs and diversity, Jefferson was named to her vice president position earlier this year.

Jefferson has been the recipient of a number of awards, including from the Women’s Law Group, Vermont Law School Black Law Students Association, the Council on Legal Education Opportunity (CLEO), the Student Bar Association and more.

At VLGS, Jefferson founded the Minority Student Group. She is an in-demand speaker on the national stage around race and the law and equitable access to legal education, and she serves as a member of both the Vermont State College Board of Trustees and Vermont State Police Advisory Commission.

“This honor is well earned,” VLGS President Rod Smolla said. “I have called Shirley the heart and soul of our school, and I mean it. Her energy and passion are infectious and we are so lucky to have her as part of our community.”


About Vermont Law and Graduate School: Vermont Law and Graduate School, a private, independent institution, is home to the nation’s premier environmental law program. The school features innovative experiential programs and is home to the Environmental Law Center, South Royalton Legal Clinic, Environmental Advocacy Clinic, Energy Clinic, Food and Agriculture Clinic, Environmental Justice Clinic, and Center for Justice Reform. For more information, visit and follow on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.