Dean Timmons-Goodson

by | May 17, 2023 | Editor's Blog | 8 comments

North Carolina Central University scored big. They landed former North Carolina Supreme Court Justice Pat Timmons-Goodson as the next Dean of the NCCU School of Law. She brings both legal heft and a national reputation to Central. She can garner attention the school needs to attract faculty, students, and donors. It’s a big win for the HBCU. 

I’m fortunate to call Pat a friend. I worked on her campaign for Congress in the middle of a global pandemic and we’ve stayed close ever since. I saw her adapt to a difficult and changing political environment very quickly, making sound decisions based on evaluating all of the available information. She’s very deliberate in situations where others are often more reactive. She has great instincts about people. In the campaign, she put together a top-notch team of professionals who remain loyal to her to this day. I’m sure she will do the same at NCCU.

Pat brings to her new position a long of history of public service and a commitment to public education. She is graduate of UNC-CH and the UNC School of Law, becoming one of the first African Americans to be a double Tar Heel. She began her legal career working in the prosecutor’s office in Cumberland County and then for Legal Aid. When she was only 29 years old, Governor Jim Hunt appointed her district court judge, making her the first African American woman judge from Cumberland County. She later served on the North Carolina Court of Appeals and, in 2006, she became the state’s first African American woman on the Supreme Court of North Carolina. 

After she retired, President Barack Obama appointed her to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. He also nominated her to serve on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District. Her nomination got caught up in political wrangling and, unfortunately for us, the Senate never acted on it. 

In 2020, she ran for Congress and built a top-tier campaign that was considered one of the nation’s most competitive races. She also expanded on her national reputation and, while she came up short, outperformed the top of the ticket in her district. Again, that’s our loss.

Over her career, Pat has gained a solid reputation among her peers in the legal community as well as the broader public. She believes firmly in the necessity of public schools because she is a product of them. She has built a career based on service and a commitment to justice. She is now one of the most prominent law school deans in the nation. North Carolina Central University School of Law will benefit from her service and her connections. That’s our gain.


  1. Gregory Weeks

    The comment above reveals everything we need to know about the writer. Specifically, the statement “I guess we will seethe quality of lawyers that come out of there, I didn’t know Central even had a law school.” That, combined with the misspelling of “leftisst” says a lot in about him. As a retired Superior Court Judge who served along with Judge Timmons I can assure him that she is more than qualified to lead NCCU’s law school. Perhaps he should consider taking a class there. He might learn something about the law and how to spell.

    • ringlet86

      I’m sure she will be great.

      She seems qualified.

  2. ringlet86

    ok good luck to her.

    However I do have to wonder if she is a flaming leftist, and has gotten a nice cushy job because she has been a good soldier and now can rest a bit and clear the air until the party rolls her out for something else. I mean you will never get the nod to run for the most minor party spot unless you are an absolute party loyalist and apparatchik and agree unerringly with every single thing the party wants forever amen. (Just look at what the leftisst did to Cotham) This is quite common to reward good soldiers with academic jobs

    I guess we will see the quality of the lawyers that come out of there. I didn’t know Central even had a law school

    Regardless she looks qualified, on paper anyway Good luck.

    • SJ Farber, NCCU Law Class of 2008

      You can find many of Central Law’s graduates on the bench in our state and federal courts, in DA’s and Public Defender’s offices, and generally anywhere people actually try cases. We have a long tradition of turning out incredible advocates and a proud history. I argued before Justice Timmons-Goodson multiple times at the Supreme Court of North Carolina and followed her opinions closesly. She was nothing close to a flaming leftist then, nor was she in her recent campaign. She’s a centrist Democrat, it’s just that appears in stark contrast to the current makeup of the right. Regardless, running a law school is not a partisan endeavor, although it is incredibly political, if that makes any sense. From faculty governance to legislative appropriations to fundraising to attracting professors and cultivating a student body, political decision abound, they just aren’t able to be so neatly labeled as to fit into red or blue.

      • ringlet86

        Glad to hear it.

        Sound like the right person for the job. Hopefully she gets to stay for a long time and will be very happy.

        Although I note that even though the job of running a school is not a partisan ( outside of the normal academic politics you noted) job. It appears that many on the left do get academic jobs after to basically “launder” ( for lack of better term) the more vociferous and active democrats in politics and in Media. ( Brian Stelter, Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton etc… for example) They Usually a fellowship position that has a decent salary, Tons of open time to do whatever, and no responsibilities. They essentially do into hiding to “cleanse” their reputation so they can reappear later when needed.

        I’m not saying this is a case, but those arrangements do exist. And I always think of it when I see prominent Democrats go into Academia.

        Just an observation.

        • TC

          Just “prominent Democrats?” No one else you can think of does that?

          • ringlet86

            No the Republicans do it too. Usually not academia because the left won’t accept it Its common on both sides to reward the faithful to their respective ‘religions”

    • TC

      The law school at NCCU is small but concise. As Ms. Farber stated, the school enjoys a history of graduating litigants and advocates. I was honored to have been a law student there. I didn’t graduate, but I saw firsthand the quality and integrity that is instilled there. I learned something of the history of the school as well. Prior to the law school at Central, North Carolina had no public law school for students of color. The law school at UNC would not admit students of color in 1939. The school imparts a strong emphasis on public service and giving back to the community to the student body.

      If you graduate from the law school at Central, it might not carry the weight of being a Harvard or Yale graduate, but your ability and legal education will be no less. You will have earned every right you are bestowed; nothing will be given.

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