Gina Mellema marked the completion of her JSP PhD in the "old school" way with a hooding in front of the Boalt commencement crowd. Lauren Edelman, Gina's dissertation chair, did the honors. (For those who have not witnessed it, the hooding is an impressive moment of individual recognition quite in contrast with the assembly line certificate and handshake moments that necessarily dominate most undergraduate and law school graduation exercises). Dean Christopher Edley described Gina's dissertation for the assembly thusly:"Race Matters: The Paradox of Race in Police Personnel Decisions"
This dissertation explores how police officials, both past and present, perceive race and departmental diversity to matter to law enforcement. Despite formal law which prohibits the use of race as a consideration, the unique nature of police work raises questions of how race may legitimately be used, if at all, in recruiting, hiring, promoting and making assignments. This project examines how the evolving ideology of race and racism has impacted race-conscious policies and practices over the past four decades and how contemporary police administrators reconcile what they term the "unavoidable salience of race" with formal legal prohibitions on race-based personnel decisions.
For the moment Gina will remain in the Bay Area where she serves as an administrative judge for the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in San Francisco.
Congratulations Gina! We're proud of you and glad to have you near for at least another year.