Kimberly J. Robinson
Kimberly Jenkins Robinson is a professor at the School of Law as well as a professor at both the School of Education and Human Development, and the Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy. She is one of the nation’s leading education law experts and speaks throughout the United States about K-20 educational equity, school funding, education and democracy, equal opportunity, civil rights, Title IX and federalism.
In 2023, Robinson launched the Education Rights Institute with $4.9 million in funding from an anonymous donor. Under her leadership, the Education Rights Institute will support scholarship and engagement about a federal right to education, the key building blocks of a high-quality education and opportunity gaps in the delivery of those building blocks, as well as how school districts can best comply with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Robinson's analysis of the Supreme Court decision on affirmative action was published in The Conversation, and her insights on one approach to increase student diversity in admissions without affirmative action was published in the Harvard Law Review. Robinson was nominated and selected to be a recipient of the 2023-24 All-University Teaching Award at UVA, which recognizes the most dedicated instructors at the university. She serves as director of the Law School’s Center for the Study of Race and Law.
Robinson is a prolific scholar who has published two edited books and a diverse array of articles, book chapters and editorials. In 2019, the New York University Press published her edited volume A Federal Right to Education: Fundamental Questions for Our Democracy. In the book, Robinson brings together some of the nation’s leading law and education scholars to examine why the United States should consider recognizing a federal right to education, how the United States could recognize such a right and what the right should guarantee.
In 2015, Harvard Education Press published her book, edited with Professor Charles Ogletree Jr. of Harvard Law School, The Enduring Legacy of Rodriguez: Creating New Pathways to Equal Educational Opportunity. In it, scholars analyze the impact of the 1972 U.S. Supreme Court decision San Antonio Independent School District v. Rodriguez, which held that the U.S. Constitution does not protect a right to education. Scholars also propose innovative federal, state and local reforms for remedying the harms of Rodriguez.
Her scholarship has been published widely in leading journals, including the Harvard Law Review, the Stanford Law & Policy Review, the University of Chicago Law Review, the North Carolina Law Review and the Boston College Law Review. She wrote a report published in 2021 by The Learning Policy Institute titled “Education as a Civil Right: Remedying Race-Discrimination and Ensuring a High-Quality Education.” This report analyzes how both federal and state laws fail to protect education as a civil right and recommends how such laws could be reformed to accomplish this goal. In 2022, the Harvard Journal of Legislation published her article “Strengthening the Federal Approach to Educational Equity During the Pandemic.” It examines the educational harms inflicted by the pandemic, critiques the flaws of the federal approach to equity as it responded to the pandemic, and recommends a more impactful federal approach for educational equity for the future.
Before Robinson began her career as a professor, she practiced law in the General Counsel’s Office of the U.S. Department of Education and as an education litigation attorney with Hogan & Hartson law firm in Washington, D.C. (now Hogan Lovells). She also served as a clerk for Judge James R. Browning of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco. Robinson graduated cum laude from Harvard Law School and with a B.A. in foreign affairs from the University of Virginia, where she was an Echols Scholar and a recipient of the University Achievement Award.
Robinson is a member of the American Law Institute, a senior research fellow of the Learning Policy Institute and a faculty senior fellow with UVA’s Miller Center. She is a past chair of the Education Law Section of the Association of American Law Schools. Robinson is frequently interviewed by the media and has published editorials in The Hill, Education Week and other news outlets.
Military Academies Can Still Consider Race in Admissions, But the Rest of the Nation’s Colleges and Universities Cannot, Court Rules