Wayne State University

News and Announcements

Return to News Listing Bookmark and Share

Professor Jocelyn Benson Designated the Next Cohn Family Scholar

January 09, 2008

Prof. BensonDETROIT (Jan. 9, 2008) – Wayne State University Law School Assistant Professor Jocelyn Benson was recently designated the Cohn Family Endowed Scholar in Legal History for 2008-2009.

The Cohn Family Endowed Scholar, which is used to support the research, teaching and scholarly activities for the holder of the appointment, was established by a distinguished Detroit judge, the Honorable Avern Cohn of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.

Judge Cohn, a longtime generous supporter of the law school, was born in Detroit. He practiced law in the city from 1949 until his appointment to the bench. He has served the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan since his appointment by President Jimmy Carter in 1979.

Professor Benson will serve as the Cohn Family Scholar for two years, giving the Cohn Family Scholar Lecture in 2009. While the Cohn Family Endowed Scholar, her work on a book analyzing laws for administering elections in multi-lingual societies will be supported through the endowment.

Professor Benson joined the Wayne Law faculty in 2005. She teaches courses in Election law, Education Law, Race and the Law, Sports and Inequality, and Civil Procedure.  She has also published numerous articles on election administration and voting rights for English Learning voters.

Some of Professor Benson’s past professional experiences include: serving as an adjunct faculty fellow at the University of California Berkeley Law School’s Warren Institute on Race, Ethnicity and Diversity; serving as a law clerk to The Honorable Damon J. Keith on the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit; and serving as the National Field Director for Election Protection for the Democratic National Committee during the 2004 presidential election.  

This past year Harry Belafonte appointed her to serve as his Detroit Director of the Gathering for Justice program he founded in 2006. Her work for Belafonte culminated in a 2-day conference at YouthVille Detroit that brought together 130 high school students and 200 community members, including Congressman Conyers and Grace Lee Boggs, to build an agenda for grassroots economic and educational empowerment in Detroit.  She currently serves on a number of boards and committees including the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Election Law, and the board of directors for Community Legal Resources and Transportation Riders United.

Professor Benson graduated from Wellesley College where she founded the now-annual Women American Political Activism conference and was the first student to be elected to serve in the governing body for the town of Wellesley, the Town Meeting. She earned her master’s degree in sociology as a Marshall Scholar at Oxford University in the United Kingdom, conducting research into the sociological implications of white supremacy and neo-Nazism. She received her J.D from Harvard University Law School, where she was a general editor of the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review.

The inaugural recipient of the Cohn Family Endowed Scholar in Legal History was Professor Gregory H. Fox. As the current Cohn Scholar, he will give a lecture titled “International Territories” at 4 p.m. on Thursday, March 20, 2008, in the Spencer M. Partrich Auditorium. For more information, please call (313) 577-3933.

Wayne State University Law School has served Michigan and beyond since its inception as Detroit City Law School in 1927. Located in Detroit’s re-energized historic cultural center, the Law School remains committed to student success and features modern lecture and court facilities, multi-media classrooms, a 250-seat auditorium, and the Arthur Neef Law Library, which houses one of the nation's 30 largest legal collections. Taught by an internationally recognized faculty, Wayne State Law School students experience a high-quality legal education via a growing array of hands-on curricular offerings, five live-client clinics, and access to well over 100 internships with local and non-profit entities each year. Its 11,000 living alumni, who work in every state of the nation and more than a dozen foreign countries, include leading members of the local, national and international legal communities. For more information, visit www.law.wayne.edu.

Advocating for justice, serving the community, revitalizing Detroit and Michigan