Franita Tolson, USC Gould School of Law

Franita Tolson is an expert in election and constitutional law, legal history, and employment discrimination. (USC Photo/Larissa Puro)

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Election law expert Franita Tolson named dean of the USC Gould School of Law

Tolson brings a deep knowledge of constitutional law and voting rights to the position.

March 27, 2024

Contact: Nina Raffio, or 213-442-8464; Melissa Masatani, or 213-821-3578

Interim Dean and Professor Franita Tolson has been named the dean and Carl Mason Franklin Chair in Law of the USC Gould School of Law. Tolson is a nationally recognized thought leader and dialogue shaper in election law, voting rights, constitutional law and legal history with research and insights appearing in leading law reviews and major media publications across the country.

“I feel inspired and excited for this opportunity,” Tolson said. “Our law school is a tapestry of talent, and I look forward to working together with the entire Gould Trojan Family to carry on its legacy of innovation and achievement. I’m honored to lead and serve this outstanding, collaborative scholarly community, which I believe is unmatched by any other.”

She becomes the first Black dean and second female dean in the history of USC Gould, which is home to one of the most academically excellent and diverse student bodies of any law school in the nation.

“We are pleased to have Franita Tolson as the next dean of the USC Gould School of Law,” USC President Carol Folt said. “She is respected and beloved by Gould, and I cannot imagine a better person to lead the school into its next phase of excellence.”

Tolson has served as the interim dean at USC Gould, where she held the George T. and Harriet E. Pfleger Chair in Law, since 2023. Before that, she was the law school’s vice dean for faculty and academic affairs from 2019 to 2022.

“During her tenure as interim dean, she promoted a culture of openness, understanding and respect,” Folt said. “She has a strong student-centered, inclusive focus and a deep appreciation for all areas of the law school, and is nationally recognized for her scholarship in election law, constitutional law and voting rights and access. We know she will continue to lead the school to even greater heights.”

Before coming to USC in 2017, Tolson was the Betty T. Ferguson Professor of Voting Rights at Florida State University, eventually becoming just the second Black woman to be promoted to associate professor with tenure at the law school in 2014.

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