FAMU College Of Law Announces Transitional Leadership And Strategic Initiatives 

Cecil Howard

ORLANDO – Florida A&M University (FAMU) announced Thursday that Associate Provost for the College of Law Cecil Howard, J.D., will assume the reins of leadership at the Orlando campus until an interim dean is appointed.

Howard assumes the temporary role following the resignation of Dean Deidré Keller, who served in the role since July 2020. Keller stepped down on January 31, 2024, to return to the faculty.

In accordance with the FAMU Board of Trustees policies, the FAMU College of Law Special Ad Hoc Committee will meet in the coming days to make the interim appointment, said Vice President for Academics/Provost Allyson Watson, Ph.D., who thanked Keller for her service. She also lauded Howard’s wealth of experience and outlined his focus.

“His three primary objectives are to enhance bar preparation and curriculum alignment for FAMU College of Law students, ensure aligned and successful accreditation and operational oversight, and implement comprehensive strategies and initiatives to foster a supportive and conducive environment for teaching, research, and administrative excellence,” Watson said.

Howard has served as associate provost for the College of Law since last Fall. He has served in executive leadership roles in higher education at several universities, including the University of South Florida, University of California, Shippensburg University, and Tufts University. A graduate of Florida State University, Howard studied law at Texas Southern University’s Thurgood Marshall Law School and is a Florida licensed attorney.

Howard vowed to face the ongoing challenges head-on.

“As a longtime supporter of Florida A&M and its College of Law, I am grateful for the opportunity to lead the College during a time of many challenges,” Howard said. “I envision my leadership cohesively moving the College of Law forward as its faculty, students, and staff continue to endeavor making strides that complement the excellent academic standing of the University.”

This interim appointment will be followed by a national executive search for a permanent dean, set to commence in Spring 2024, Watson said.

Established as a division of law at Florida A&M College on December 21, 1949, the College of Law admitted its first class in 1951. In a significant milestone, the Florida Legislature, in the year 2000, unanimously passed legislation to re-establish a law school at Florida A&M University. On June 14, 2000, Governor Jeb Bush signed the bill into law, paving the way for the admission of the first class in Orlando in the fall of 2002.

Watson vowed to continue to work with faculty, students and staff and other stakeholders to place the College of Law on an upward trajectory.

“The FAMU College of Law remains committed to its historical legacy of excellence and looks forward to making a lasting impact on the legal society both now and in the future,” Watson said. “The success of our students, faculty and staff remains our highest priority.”