New Schulich School of Law dean shares motivations and vision

- August 25, 2023

Sarah Harding's five-year term began this week. (Nick Pearce photo)
Sarah Harding's five-year term began this week. (Nick Pearce photo)

The Schulich School of Law welcomed Sarah Harding (LLB ’89) as its new dean this week.

Harding, whose five-year term began Monday (August 21), is the seventeenth dean of the law school and the fourth woman to serve in the position. She succeeds Camille Cameron, who held the role since 2015.

Harding says her deep and abiding affection for her alma mater brought her back to the place where her legal education began. 

“I absolutely loved my time at Dalhousie. It was a pivotal time for me that I will always cherish,” she says. “I’m looking forward to giving back to a place that has meant so much to me.”

She also credits the Schulich School of Law’s dedication to public service, its active approach to addressing injustices and inequities, and its long-standing strength as both a regional and national school for attracting her to the role.

“Another thing that motivates me is seeing a community successfully mobilize in pursuit of a shared goal," she says. "I am inspired by people collectively rising to the challenges of building a sustainable, vibrant, diverse future. But equally important to me is simply witnessing and experiencing firsthand solidarity among a diverse group of people.”

A good leader is a good listener

Harding's education began with a Bachelor of Arts from McGill University. Following law school at Dal, she went on to do graduate legal work at the University of Oxford and Yale University. She has been a professor at Chicago-Kent College of Law for the past 27 years and associate dean for Faculty development and research for six of those years. 

Harding was involved in a wide range of strategic projects as associate dean, from accreditation to curricular reform. Her teaching and research interests have focused primarily on the legal treatment of cultural property, particularly the cultural properties and resources of Indigenous peoples. In addition, she has taught and written in the field of comparative constitutional law.  

She is excited and motivated to step into this leadership role at Schulich Law. 

“I love witnessing the light bulb moment. When a concept finally clicks for a student, they begin to feel empowered to formulate their own arguments and enter the legal landscape with conviction.”

Harding says her leadership style is guided by her personal values of compassion, hard work, honesty, and fairness.

“A good leader needs to be a good listener, so I try first and foremost to listen — with compassion, openness, and fairness,” she says. “I try to be honest. I am generally quick to admit a mistake. And I work hard with fierce dedication and focus.”

Recommended reading: Schulich School of Law introduces first mandatory course on African Nova Scotian legal history and issues

Exemplifying the Weldon Tradition

Harding has remained committed to the Weldon Tradition of unselfish public service since her time at Dal. In the past decade she has devoted a significant amount of time and energy in leadership roles with non-profits focused on arts and education. More recently, she has started working as a pro-bono attorney with families seeking asylum.  

“From the moment I left Dalhousie as a fresh new graduate I tried to embrace the Weldon Tradition,” she shares. “It will be immensely rewarding to help inspire that tradition in the next generation of law school graduates.”

Harding also looks forward to being back on the East Coast of Canada. “What’s not to love about Halifax,” she says. “It is a vibrant city, full of students, character, good food, soulful music, and bracing sea air.”

In her spare time, she likes to run, hike, bike, cross-country ski, and cook. For the past couple of years, she has been an avid gardener and beekeeper which she says will be on hold until she has a suitable place for a hive in the Halifax area. 

“I don’t think my Halifax condo association would appreciate a colony of bees on the balcony,” she says.


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