A new mission

Associate Dean Sacha Coupet partners with faculty to fulfill the law school’s anti-racist calling

In summer 2020, Loyola University Chicago School of Law created a new mission statement that clarifies the school’s calling to work to dismantle the structures that generate and sustain racism and all forms of oppression. 

Professor Sacha Coupet ​led the task force that drafted an explicitly anti-racist mission statement. A professor and child law expert who joined Loyola in 2004, Coupet has advocated for social justice throughout her entire career. Now, as associate dean of mission innovation, she partners with faculty to integrat​e anti-racism, racial justice, and the effects of privilege and oppression into the classroom—and into the institution as a whole. 

“The mission statement is aspirational by intent,” she says. “Anti-racism is not a place or a destination. It’s a way of simply being.” Here, Coupet discusses the new mission, how it’s being woven into the student experience, and her hopes for Loyola’s future lawyers.

What went into creating the new mission statement? 

For the first time, the faculty of color within our wider faculty community identified ourselves as a group with distinct and unique interests and concerns. It was the faculty of color who organized to draft a motion to request that our colleagues as a whole amend our mission statement to be more reflective of our commitment to anti-racism and anti-oppression.

We had really frank and difficult conversations about race, racism, oppression, and what we are doing to try to address this within the law school community. I say difficult conversations because we are just not accustomed to having conversations about race and identity and belonging—it’s a muscle that we are still flexing and strengthening. And I applaud this community for rallying together to say that this matters. Not just to our community of color and our students of color. This matters to all of us. 

How will this work benefit students in the months or even years ahead?

Students take their classroom experiences with them. It’s not just a neutral space in which information is exchanged and catalogued. We hope it’s a transformative space where students are lit up about the possibility to go and be social justice advocates out in the world. 

Our hope is that we are producing the law-related leaders—lawyers, judges, prosecutors—who will take what they are learning throughout their law school experience and bring that social justice charge out into the broader world.  

“The mission statement is aspirational by intent. Anti-racism is not a place or a destination. It’s a way of simply being.”

How will these mission strategies be incorporated into the classroom? 

Professors will be intentional about selecting material that ​exposes students ​not only to black letter law, but also a critical examination of how the law came to be, who is privileged within law, and who is oppressed. It’s almost as if you are creating the universe in which these students will wrestle with big, legal questions. And if that universe isn’t reflective of the diversity of experiences that exist out in the world, we are short-changing our students. 

On the bigger scale, one thing that’s occupying my time is faculty recruitment and hiring. How do you create a rich range of classroom leaders, with a rich range of life experiences and identities? We are truly over the moon at the opportunity to hire folks who will help us to live in alignment with our new mission statement.

​My sincere hope ​is that we’re infusing this enthusiasm in each person in the community, so that there doesn’t even need to be a dean of mission innovation, because we’re all doing that work. That would be my hope—that I can work myself, as fast as possible, out of this ​amazing new job. –Megan Kirby 

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Loyola University Chicago's Law Faculty members have earned a reputation for excellence in teaching, publishing, speaking, and public policy.

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Built upon the School of Law’s unwavering commitment to social justice, the Curt and Linda Rodin Center for Social Justice strengthens and further develops programs to advance fairness, equity, and justice internally and in marginalized communities throughout Chicago. Learn More