The Association of American Law Schools (AALS) Section on Minority Groups has announced Texas A&M University School of Law Professor Sahar Aziz as the 2016 recipient of the Derrick A. Bell Award.
The annual award is named in honor of the late Derrick A. Bell Jr., the first African-American tenured professor at Harvard Law School. The award “honors a junior faculty member who, through activism, mentoring, colleagueship, teaching and scholarship, has made an extraordinary contribution to legal education, the legal system or social justice.”
All current professional legal educators are eligible for the award, including administrators, librarians, clinical faculty, legal writing teachers and tenure track faculty, so long as they have not received tenure and have served seven years or less in legal academia, at the time of the award.
Aziz said there are no words to express how humbled she is to receive such an honor.
“His [Derrick Bell] scholarship and lifetime commitment to social justice has been a driving force in shaping my research and professional identity,” she said. “I hope that I can live up to this honor as I strive to teach the next generation of lawyers who will be the guardians of our nation's democracy."
Dean and Anthony G. Buzbee Dean’s Endowed Chair Andrew Morriss said in Aziz’s short time in the legal academy, she has built a “stellar reputation.”
“All of us at Texas A&M are proud to have such an accomplished colleague and are thrilled to see that others are recognizing her work as well,” he said.
Aziz said this award is a “testament” to the law school’s support as much as it is of her accomplishments.
"I am especially thankful to the university, law school, and my colleagues for creating an environment that emphasizes excellence, integrity and service,” she said.
She will be presented with the award at the section luncheon of the AALS annual meeting in New York City on Jan. 8, 2016. AALS is a nonprofit association of 180 law schools with a mission to “uphold and advance excellence in legal education.”
Aziz’s scholarship focuses on the intersection of national security and civil rights law with a focus on the post-9/11 era. Aziz incorporates critical race theory, feminist theory, and constitutional law into her examination of the disparate impact of post-9/11 laws and public policy on ethnic, racial, and religious minority groups in the United States. Aziz analyzes these issues in various contexts including employment, counterterrorism, criminal justice, and civil rights litigation.
Additionally, Aziz mentors women and students who are the first in their families to attend college.
- Article by Jennifer Nassar, Communications Specialist, Texas A&M University School of Law