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David Mahatha Joins UConn Law as Assistant Dean

Ensuring that everyone on campus feels valued and bringing more diversity to the legal profession are at the core of his work.

Dr. David Mahatha, the new assistant dean of Diversity, Belonging and Community Engagement at the UConn School of Law, is committed to shaping environments where everyone can succeed and feel like they belong.

That dedication gained force after he earned his master’s degree and started working in higher education. “Someone told me that if I wanted to be promoted, if I wanted to progress, I had to hide my identity as a gay man,” he said. “From that point on, I really wanted to make sure I created spaces where everyone had an opportunity to be successful, where everyone felt valued and really had opportunities to reach their full potential.”

Mahatha went on to work for 14 years at Central Piedmont Community College in student services and as director of equity, diversity and inclusion. He earned a Ph.D.  and served from 2022 to 2024 as director of inclusive excellence at the University of South Carolina Joseph F. Rice School of Law.

At South Carolina, Mahatha focused on celebrating all members of the law school community instead of leaving that work to student organizations. He also organized Bridge to Law programs exposing middle school students, many from marginalized communities, to law school and to the possibility that they could become lawyers.

“Traditionally, the legal profession hasn’t been very diverse, but we can make it diverse, and there are pathways to it becoming more diverse,” he said. “I always talk about the difference between equity and equality. It’s not about giving everyone the same thing. It’s about giving everyone what they need to be successful.”

Mahatha, who was selected after a nationwide search, believes an environment where everyone feels welcome and everyone belongs is the product of a vision shared by the entire community. “I love it when everyone is engaged in this work,” he said. “I get to hear everyone’s voice.”

At UConn Law, he is planning to talk with as many people as possible – students, staff, faculty and alumni – to hear about their experiences and perspectives. “That’s how we create our strategic diversity plan – by listening,” he said.

“I’m thrilled that Dr. Mahatha has joined us to help advance our goals regarding diversity, belonging and community engagement,” Dean Eboni S. Nelson said. “He brings considerable experience and skill to our law school and leadership team, and I look forward to working with him in this critical collaborative work to support, celebrate and elevate our students, community and profession.”

Mahatha’s Ph.D. is in Organizational Leadership from Regent University and his MA is in Human Resource Development with a concentration in Adult Learning and Instructional Design from Clemson University. He also holds a BA in Political Science from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and Professional Certification in Diversity and Inclusion from Cornell University.