Okianer Christian Dark

Professor of Law

J.D., 1979, Rutgers University
B.S., magna cum laude, 1975, Upsala College


Biography

Okianer Christian Dark, Esq., is currently Associate Provost for Faculty Development in the Office of the Provost for Howard University and Professor of Law. In her role as Associate Provost, she established the Office of Faculty Development (OFD) in 2015 to provide oversight of and programming for the ongoing professional development of faculty at all ranks throughout the University and in all 13 Schools and Colleges. The OFD has established a Summer Academy for Junior Faculty, regular monthly Junior Faculty Series, regular monthly Scholarly Productions Workshops for all faculty, accountability groups to promote scholarly productivity, and the Chairs Leadership Academy for new chairs, associate chairs, assistant and associate deans. The OFD has an advisory committee composed of faculty appointed by the Dean of each School and College who have responsibility for professional development activities in that School or College.  Further, CETLA, College of Medicine Faculty Development Program, and the Professional Development Program in the Office of Human Resources work very closely with OFD.

Prior to her appointment as Associate Provost, she served as Interim Dean for the Howard University School of Law, 2012-2014, and the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs also for Howard University School of Law, 2005-2012. As Interim Dean and Associate Dean, she supported the expansion of the live clinical programs and externship opportunities for law students, expanded the environmental law  and health law course offerings, instituted Securities and Exchange (SEC) course and externship offerings to prepare students for practice in financial markets, created a mini-course program to expose law students to cutting-edge contemporary topics, created a mentor program for all non-tenured faculty, promoted the adoption of more varied skills courses to prepare students for practice, as well as provided ongoing professional development for staff, adjunct faculty training and established.

She was a professor of law at the T.C. Williams School of Law, University of Richmond, in Richmond, VA where she was the first African American tenured at the law school and the first African American woman tenured at the University. She is an expert in Torts (civil law), Products Liability, Health Law and Antitrust and Trade Restraints.  Her research and publications are primarily in two areas. First, she identifies and examines legal doctrines in Torts that are especially burdensome for vulnerable populations like children and the mentally disabled.  Second, she publishes critiques on the delivery of legal education in the United States today, with specific attention on incorporating diversity into teaching law. 

In addition to teaching health law courses, she applied her knowledge in this field to various Health-related projects in the community where she either lived or worked. She was a founding member of Board of Trustees for the Northwest Health Foundation in Portland, Oregon.  This foundation funded research as well as non-profit community organizations that provided primary care to low income persons in Oregon and Southwest Washington.  In Montgomery County MD, she was Vice Chair and Chair of the Montgomery County Commission on Health, and a founding member of the Advisory Committee of the Montgomery Cares Program. Montgomery Cares is a public/private partnership that supports a network of health clinics providing primary care services to low-income adults.  She served on the Advisory Committee for 8 years leading the Committee on Specialty Care services.  Finally, she was a frequent guest lecturer on Health Law at the Howard University College of Medicine for the Health Ethics course required of all students in the College of Medicine, School of Nursing and Allied Health, School of Pharmacy and the School of Dentistry.

Associate Provost Dark is also well known within the Fair Housing community and is featured in an award-winning video titled Housing Discrimination:  Who Should Have to Get Use to It which is used nationally by federal and state governmental agencies, housing advocates and law schools.  She served as a Commissioner on the National Commission on Fair Housing and Opportunity that issued a report to the Obama Administration with a set of recommendations addressing housing discrimination with attention on the housing foreclosure crisis.  

In the legal academy, she has held leadership positions as a member of the Law School Admission (LSAC) Council Board of Directors, LSAC Committee Chair of Minority Affairs Committee and, Audit Committee.  She was Chair of the Section on Women in Legal Education for the Association of American Law Schools, member of the Sections on Torts, Health Law and Litigation sections of the American Bar Association and American Association of Law School as well as a Board Member on the Society of American Law Teachers.  Associate Provost Dark has served on several site teams for accreditation visits to law schools on behalf of the ABA and AALS.

Immediately upon graduation from law school, she joined the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice through the Honors Program.  As a trial attorney in the Antitrust and l Divisions she was a member of the trial team for United States v. AT&T, which led to the breakup of the bell telephone system.  She also was a special United States Attorney in the District of Columbia’s Office of the United States Attorney where she prosecuted criminal cases in the District of Columbia, trial attorney in the Civil Division overseeing asbestos cases in three states, and as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Office of the Attorney General in the District of Oregon where she handled affirmative civil rights cases, civil defense, and established the Community Relations Unit for that office to focus on Domestic Violence, Hate Crimes and Environmental Justice.  She has an extensive litigation background over eleven years.

She is the recipient of many awards for her work as a litigator, an educator (several awards as Teacher of the Year or distinguished educator), the YWCA Award as a Distinguished Woman in Law in Richmond, VA, 1991, the Judge Mercedes Diez Award from the Oregon Women Lawyers, 1998, the National Association of Women Judges Recognition for Distinguished Service, 2013, and the Liberty Achievement Award for Advancing Diversity in the Legal Profession, ABA Section of Tort, Trial and Insurance, 2014. In addition, she is the recipient of many awards for her for community service at both the federal and local levels.   She is very active in her community presently serving as Vice Chair of the Montgomery County Human Rights Commission (MCHRC), the MCHRC liaison to the Remembrance and Reconciliation Commission, and the Silver Spring Chapter of the Links, Incorporated where she is a former President, Vice President and Parliamentarian.    

Associate Provost Dark received her B.A. magna cum laude from Upsala College, East Orange, N.J. and her Juris Doctor degree from Rutgers-Newark University School of Law, Newark, N.J. where she was the recipient of the Alumni Senior Prize (graduating senior exhibiting highest achievement in law school and potential for success in the legal profession).  She is a member of the New Jersey and Pennsylvania Bars. In November 2018, she received the Distinguished Alumni Award from Rutgers University School of Law for her accomplishments in the legal profession.      


Professional Contributions

In the past, Professor Dark has frequently contributed to the profession through service in a variety of ways. She was active in the Virginia State Bar serving on the Judicial Selections Committee and as a lecturer in the mandatory professional responsibility course. While in Oregon, she was a member of the Oregon Supreme Court and Oregon State Bar Task Force on Gender Fairness where she chaired the committees on Intersectionality and Training for the Task Force. The final report of this task force was published in the spring of 1998. This report received national attention from a number of sources including the American Bar Association’s Commission on Women, because of the inclusion of Intersectionality in the study.

In legal education, Professor Dark has served in a number of different capacities. She was Chair of the Minority Affairs Committee of the Law School Admission Council and a member of the Board of Trustees of the Law School Admission Council. The Law School Admission Council is best known for the development and administration of the LSAT. She was also a member of the Board of Directors of the Society of American Law Teachers. Professor Dark was active in the Association of American Law Schools. She served as Chair of the 1994 New Law Teachers Workshop for AALS and Chair of the AALS Standing Committee on Sections and The Annual Meeting for two years. She was Chair of the AALS Section on Women in Legal Education. Most recently, she was a member of the Board of Visitors for the University of Oregon School of Law.

Professor Dark often speaks to groups of students who are interested in the field of law or to law students. For example, while she was in Oregon, she participated in programs directed at minority law students in Oregon law schools that were directed by the Affirmative Action Office of the Oregon State Bar.