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2001 › Michael A. Olivas
23rd Farfel Recipient

Institute for Higher Education Law and Governance
William B. Bates Professor of Law
Law Center

Michael A. Olivas, the William B. Bates Professor of Law and founder/director of the UH Law Center’s Institute for Higher Education Law and Governance, is humbled by his Farfel recognition. “I’m really honored to be in the company of such distinguished faculty. It’s a demanding job, but to be able to do this kind of work with students and the community -- I can’t imagine a better life.”

Olivas is a leading expert on higher education law and has recently completed a second term as general counsel of the American Association of University Professors. A prolific scholar, he has been a member of the prestigious American Law Institute since 1986. He has served three times as chair of the Law and Education Section of the AALS and was on the editorial board of the Journal of College and University Law. His editorial activities include work for twenty-seven journals.

During his nineteen years of service at UH, Olivas received this year’s Ethel M. Baker Faculty Award and is the recipient of the Distinguished Scholar Award of the American Educational Research Association and the Research Achievement Award of the Association for the Study of Higher Education.

Olivas takes pride in the accomplishments of his former students. Three of them are on the UH faculty, and another six have been elected to the Texas Legislature. “I believe that nurturing young professionals, especially young professors, is the highest calling and the most rewarding vocation,” he says. “I am at the stage of my career where I am more delighted at my students’ achievements than I am at my own. It isn’t even a close call. When they get published, get elected to judicial or legislative office, start a law firm, start a family, win an important case, I feel very fulfilled.”

A native of New Mexico, Olivas has secured more than $5 million in grants from various foundations. His most recent work involves efforts to help undocumented immigrants obtain access to Texas colleges and universities. “Professors get a unique opportunity to pursue truth and have the independence that you don’t have in most professions,” Olivas says. “I’m happy I’ve been able to strike a chord and do some positive things for people.”

“Education is truly our society’s engine of upward mobility,” he says.

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