Education policy and law scholar Jason Nance named new dean of SMU Dedman School of Law

Jason P. Nance

Dallas (SMU) – Jason P. Nance, an education policy and law scholar who studies inequalities in public education, has been named the Judge James Noel Dean at SMU’s Dedman School of Law. He will join SMU on August 10, 2022, from the University of Florida Levin College of Law, where he is associate dean for research and faculty development and professor of law.


Nance began his career in education, teaching math to middle schoolers and GED and English courses to adults in Houston. After three years, he began to prepare for a career in education administration, intending to become a school principal. But Nance developed a keen interest in education policy and law through his graduate studies, ultimately earning a Ph.D. in education policy and administration before completing his law degree.


“The Dedman School of Law aspires both to maintain its long-standing top status in the region and to rise significantly in the national rankings,” said Elizabeth G. Loboa, SMU provost and vice president for academic affairs. “Throughout the interview process, campus stakeholders responded enthusiastically both to Jason’s experience and to his vision for the law school. Dedman Law has tremendous faculty and staff who have for years trained and supported the placement of our students in meaningful and impactful careers. Under Dean Nance’s leadership, we are well positioned to advance our well-earned reputation within the legal and business communities and to expand our impact in line with SMU’s aspirations for even greater academic excellence.”


Nance clerked for Judge Kent A. Jordan of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit and the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware after graduating from law school. He served as a litigation associate at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, practicing corporate and securities litigation during the financial crisis of 2007–2010. Nance was a visiting assistant professor of law at the Villanova University School of Law before joining the University of Florida Levin College of Law in 2011.


Since 2021, Nance has served as associate dean for research and faculty development at UF Law. Previously at UF Law, he served as associate dean for academic and faculty affairs, as an associate director of the Center for the Study of Race and Relations, and as an associate director for education and law at the Center on Children and Families. As professor of law, he taught education law, torts and remedies. He oversaw the continued development and implementation of the Introduction to Lawyering and the Legal Profession Program, then directed the program designed to help first-year law students develop key competencies to become effective lawyers.


“We look forward to welcoming Dean Nance to Dedman School of Law,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “His early public education experience combined with a distinguished legal career and passion for education equity issues bring talents that will be valuable on many levels at SMU.”


Nance’s scholarship explores the intersection between law, education policy and the criminal justice system using empirical and legal methodologies. His research has been cited extensively by courts, party and amicus briefs, law journals, books, treatises, and social science journals and featured in numerous national media outlets. He served as the reporter for the American Bar Association’s Joint Task Force on Reversing the School-to-Prison Pipeline, where he co-authored a report and proposed resolutions that were adopted by the ABA to help dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline nationwide.


“I am thrilled and honored to be named the incoming dean of the Dedman School of Law,” Nance said. “Dedman Law is an impressive law school with a talented faculty and staff, supported by a committed, energetic alumni base. It is well positioned to rise to even greater heights. I look forward to working collaboratively with students, faculty, staff and alumni to help Dedman Law reach its full potential in the coming years.”  


Nance earned a B.A. in history and teaching from Brigham Young University. He earned a Ph.D. in education policy and administration from The Ohio State University and his J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania School of Law.


Nance succeeds Dedman Law Dean Jennifer M. Collins, who will become president of Rhodes College in Memphis on July 1. Thomas Mayo, senior associate dean for academic affairs, Altshuler Distinguished Teaching Professor and professor of law at Dedman Law, serves as dean ad interim until Nance begins work in August.





SMU Dedman School of Law was founded in 1925. With more than 17,000 alumni from more than 80 countries, it enjoys a national and international reputation of distinction. SMU Dedman School of Law is known for its academic rigor, as well as its excellent record in preparing students to practice in prestigious law firms, major corporations and public service organizations. The faculty excel in their public engagement efforts, groundbreaking scholarship, innovative teaching and international impact. The law school boasts 11 legal clinics and three academic centers with programs making an impact in the community and nationwide. SMU Dedman School of Law ranks as a top law school by National Jurist/preLaw in business law, criminal law, family law, intellectual property law, tax law and human rights law. It is ranked No. 26 by National Law Journal/ for the having the highest percentage of 2021 graduates in associate jobs at the nation’s 100 largest law firms. It also has one of the country’s oldest LL.M. programs for graduates of foreign law schools, a program initially launched in 1949.


SMU is the nationally ranked global research university in the dynamic city of Dallas. SMU’s alumni, faculty and more than 12,000 students in eight degree-granting schools demonstrate an entrepreneurial spirit as they lead change in their professions, communities and the world.