Thursday, October 10, 1996

WRITER: Kathy R. Pharr, (706) 542-5172

CONTACT: Melisa Anderson, (706) 353-7938


ATHENS, Ga. -- Martha S. West, professor of law at the University of California-Davis, will examine affirmative action in an address titled, "What's In It For Me? Why Don't White Women Support Affirmative Action?" during the 15th annual Edith House Lecture at the University of Georgia School of Law on October 24. The lecture, to be held at 3:30 in the law school auditorium, is open free to the public.

West, a noted feminist law scholar, has been a member of the UC-Davis faculty since 1982, teaching Employment Discrimination, Feminist Legal Theory, Labor Law, Gender and Law, and Public Sector Labor Law. From 1988 to 1992, she served as the law school's associate dean.

West earned her bachelor's degree magna cum laude from Brandeis University, graduating Phi Beta Kappa, then received her law degree summa cum laude from Indiana University-Bloomington. As a law student in 1973, West assisted in drafting the university's first affirmative action plan and developing and teaching a course on women and the law.

Following law school, West served as a law clerk for District Court Judge Jesse E. Eschbach of the Northern District of Indiana. She then entered private practice, specializing in labor law, employment discrimination, family law, and election law.

West has just finished the fourth edition of a textbook on sex-based discrimination, and has written and delivered numerous articles and papers on affirmative action, gender bias, and labor law.

"The provocative title of Professor West's lecture is already getting students to think about and discuss the topic," said Melisa Anderson, vice president of the Women Law Students Association (WLSA), which sponsors the lecture. "We're fortunate to have a lecturer whose specialty area -- affirmative action -- is so timely with the upcoming election and political climate in the country. I feel she'll provide insight into this topic that most of us have never considered."

An active advocate for women and children, West has received the Sacramento YWCA Outstanding Woman of the Year in Education Award and the Deanna Falge Award for diversity and affirmative action at UC-Davis.

The Edith House Lecture Series, hosted annually by WLSA, is named for one of the first female graduates of the University of Georgia School of Law. A native of Winder, Georgia, House was co-valedictorian of the law class of 1925, the first law class to graduate women. She practiced law for 38 years and became assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida and acting U.S. attorney for the district.

This year's lecture is dedicated to the memory of Professor Ellen Rausen Jordan, an early WLSA advisor who died in August after a lengthy battle with cancer. Jordan taught at the law school from 1976 to 1992, serving as associate dean for three years and two years as UGA's acting associate vice president for academic affairs. In 1992, Jordan was selected as the first woman dean of the UC-Davis School of Law. She returned to Athens last fall to teach a course in Interviewing, Counseling and Negotiation.