Student group surprises dean with portrait


University of Detroit Mercy School of Law Dean Jelani Jefferson Exum (fourth from left) was honored by the suprise unveiling of a portrait of her commissioned by the Black Law Students Association. Among those honoring the dean at the May 8 unveiling in the Detroit Mercy Law atrium were (left to right) Chanel Taylor, Elizabeth Sahouri, Tyra Page, Sydney Jackson, Jimar Cunnigham, Coriann McMillen, Jazmine Goode, Mecca Muhammad, Larry Johnson and Madison Orow.

(Photo by John Meiu)

The University of Detroit Mercy School of Law Black Law Students Association (BLSA) recently surprised Dean Jelani Jefferson Exum with a portrait it commissioned in her honor.

Jefferson Exum had been told that BLSA was hosting an end of year celebration in the Detroit Mercy Law atrium which was actually a portrait unveiling for her.

“Dean Jefferson Exum is an inspiration to all of us Detroit Mercy Law students,” said incoming BLSA president Sydney Jackson, 2L. “We want to honor her and her commitment to justice and diversity as the first Black dean at Detroit Mercy Law.”

Jefferson Exum became dean in July 2021. She joined the Detroit Mercy Law community as the Philip J. McElroy Professor of Law in 2019. She is a nationally recognized expert in sentencing law and procedure.

“I am so proud of BLSA and the way they create a community and show up for one another,” Jefferson Exum said at the event. “You’re an inspiration to me and I know that you inspire everyone else in this room as well.”

The portrait was created by Robert Arte O’Quinn and will be framed to hang in the halls of Detroit Mercy Law.



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