Robert Ackerman named director of Levin Center at Wayne Law

Robert AckermanDETROIT – Professor Robert M. Ackerman has been appointed director of the Levin Center at Wayne State University Law School.

Ackerman will lead the center in furtherance of its goal to educate future attorneys, business leaders, legislators and public servants on the role of oversight and bipartisanship in good government.

He succeeds former Dean Jocelyn Benson, who served as director of the Levin Center since Sept. 2016. She will continue her affiliation with the Levin Center by serving as vice chair of its advisory board. Benson stepped down from her role as dean last fall to become the CEO of the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE), a venture led by professional sports organizations and networks to improve race relations in America.

“We’re grateful to Jocelyn Benson for her leadership over the past two years in helping to establish the Levin Center at Wayne Law and in guiding it as director the past year,” said former U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, chair of the Levin Center and the law school’s distinguished legislator in residence. “Thankfully Jocelyn will continue her service as vice chair of our advisory board. We also enthusiastically welcome Bob Ackerman as our new director. Bob is a former Wayne Law dean and in a host of other ways is a proven leader who I know will be a driving force behind the center for years to come.”

Ackerman teaches courses in torts, dispute resolution and negotiation. He serves on the advisory boards for Labor@Wayne and the Center for Peace and Conflict Studies, and he helped found Wayne State’s Dispute Resolution Consortium. Ackerman recently concluded a two-year appointment as scholar in residence in Wayne State’s Humanities Center. He also serves as Wayne State University’s faculty athletics representative.

From 2008 to 2012, Ackerman served as dean at Wayne Law, where he helped establish the Transnational Environmental Law Clinic, the Asylum and Immigration Law Clinic, the Law School's Student Voluntary Pro Bono Program and the Program for International Legal Studies. In 2011, he welcomed more than 600 guests to campus for the dedication of the Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights.

Prior to coming to Wayne Law, Ackerman served as a professor at Penn State University's Dickinson School of Law. Previously, he was dean and professor of law at Willamette University College of Law. Early in his career, he worked for the Denver firm of Holme Roberts & Owen and the Harvard Prison Legal Assistance Project.

Ackerman, who has co-authored a book on torts, has written extensively in the fields of torts, dispute resolution, communitarian theory and civic responsibility. He also has lectured extensively throughout the United States and abroad.

A resident of Grosse Pointe, Ackerman earned his J.D. from Harvard Law School and his bachelor’s degree from Colgate University.

The Levin Center at Wayne Law was launched in March 2015 and is named in honor of former U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, Michigan’s longest-serving U.S. senator, who retired at the beginning of 2015 after 36 years in the Senate.

The Levin Center is supported, in part, by a grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, a nonpartisan, private charitable foundation whose Madison Initiative focuses on strengthening democratic values, norms and institutions.

Photo: Robert Ackerman

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