Stephen Ball Makes History As First Black Male Dean Of Students At Harvard Law School


March 15, 2022

He’s the first Black man to hold the title in the school’s 200 plus year history!

A Detroit native is making history as the first Black male dean of students at Harvard Law School, C and G Newspapers reports. 

Stephen Ball is a Metro Detroit native who grew up in the city’s Southfield region. The 36-year-old credits his hometown with introducing him to a wide array of diversity at an early age, something he said he’s carried with him throughout his life and career choices. 


“Southfield offered a rich mosaic of ethnic, racial and economic diversity, all situated alongside the larger sphere of Detroit’s unique history and complex socio-economic dynamics. Its unique diversity influenced me in my formative years, and it continues to shape my perception of how people from different backgrounds can all coexist, live and thrive together,” Ball told reporters. 

After high school, Ball headed to the University of Michigan, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in political science and his master’s in public policy. In 2010, he graduated from Harvard Law School with his Juris Doctor. During graduate school, he did a number of stints as an intern in political and nonprofit spaces, including one at the office of the mayor of Detroit. In law school, he interned at the Manhattan District Attorney’s office and in Washington, D.C., going on to practice law for six years after graduation for a major national law firm based in New York City. After doing some work on the west coast, he returned to the east coast, dabbling in tech at Airbnb before settling at a job at Wells Fargo. While it may seem like Ball bounced around a lot in careers, he encourages others to do the same and be intent on taking calculating risks that challenge you and add a wide array of skills to your portfolio. 

“I often tell students that their career arc is presumably long – somewhere from 30-40 years, perhaps even more. For that reason, they should embrace their curiosities and passions, provided other life responsibilities allow them to. Take strategic risk – challenge yourself. Don’t stagnate if you don’t have to. Even if things don’t necessarily work out the way you plan or envision, you’ll appreciate the overall life journey and the lessons learned along the way. In fact, the unexpected developments are often the most rewarding,” said Ball. 


Now Ball has recently been named the new dean of students at Harvard Law School (HLS), making history as the first Black man to hold the position in over two centuries. In his new role, Ball will focus on supporting students from enrollment to graduation, overseeing student enrichment programs and those that prepare students for the bar application. He will also be responsible for organizing events on campus, mentoring individual students and connecting them to various resources. Ball said it’s his goal to really help Harvard Law students maximize their time on campus while preparing them for the real world, utilizing his own firsthand experience as a former HLS student. 

“I view the value of the role as helping students optimize their experience at HLS while also positioning them to succeed in their life after law school. Although I enjoyed aspects of my student experiences at HLS, there were many times when the environment felt foreign, even though I had succeeded at U of M, another elite academic setting. I understand that things probably have not changed too much for today’s students, so I want to do all that I can to enrich their experience by ensuring they are able to leverage HLS’s abundance of resources, help them feel more connected to the HLS community, support them in navigating mental health challenges, and come away thinking fondly of their time in Cambridge,” Ball explained. 

With his two previous predecessors being Gen Xers, Ball also hopes to bring a new youthfulness to the role as a millennial, while helping students navigate the complex global economic events students are facing now. Jessica Soban, dean of student services at Harvard Law, spoke about the significance of Ball’s appointment.


“Our dean of students plays such an integral role in our community, helping shape the student experience and providing support and mentorship to our students, from orientation to commencement. Stephen brings tremendous experience and a genuine commitment to our students, and we are thrilled to welcome him back to Harvard Law School and to our student services team,” said Soban. 

Congratulations, Dean Ball!

Photo Courtesy of Erin Patrice O’Brien/CandGNewspapers


Presented by Hyundai 

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