Dorothy Wright Nelson went from dean of the USC Gould School of Law to judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit

Dorothy Wright Nelson

Editor’s note: Title IX — the landmark legislation that prohibits sex discrimination in educational institutions that receive federal funding — was signed into law on June 23, 1972. In recognition of this anniversary, we’ll be profiling Trojan Title IX trailblazers throughout the year. 

When Dorothy Wright Nelson became dean of the USC Gould School of Law in 1969, it would still be three more years before Title IX became law.

But the determined legal pioneer, who became the school’s first female law professor when she joined the faculty in 1957, was already focused on doing all she could to make USC Gould more diverse by encouraging more women to enroll, as well as Black, Hispanic and Asian students.

“We went out into high schools and colleges to encourage young women and racial minorities to prepare to apply to law school,” Nelson said. “USC was traditionally a very conservative school that would not reach out. I took aggressive steps.”

Read Dorothy’s story