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Beverly Ledbetter, Esq.

Vice President and General Counsel, Brown University

Focus Area: Accountability

Providence, Rhode Island
Office Representing: General Counsel

As the vice president and general counsel at Brown University, Beverly Ledbetter represents, advises, and defends the university in all legal matters or matters that have a significant legal component or consequences. Ledbetter serves as a senior policy advisor to the president, the board, and senior and administrative officers on major policy issues that involve legal questions. She supervises in-house attorneys and legal staff as they address existing issues, problems, and claims arising out of the constituent university offices. She provides legal guidance on university policies and practices, as well as risk assessment and management. Ledbetter is also a principal advisor on federal and state regulatory and compliance issues and serves as a university liaison on several national bodies reviewing and/or addressing the various problems in higher education generally. Ledbetter works in legal areas such as litigation, employment, labor and benefits law, contract law, real and intellectual property, non-profit corporate law, student affairs, and conflict resolution.

How did you first get interested in or involved in higher education issues?

"My mother was an English professor at a small black college in Texas. I grew up on the college campus or rather in the adjacent residential community. One or more of the parents of almost all of my classmates were also professionals at the college. Faculty meetings, held once a month in the evening, were mandatory. I accompanied my mother and sat in the back of the room doing my homework. Invariably, the discussions in the faculty meeting were more compelling than my homework, (which I completed quickly,) and I became fascinated with the problems and issues as well as the politics of higher education," Ledbetter said. "Later, while in both graduate school and law school, I taught math in the University of Colorado's education program for first-generation minority students. I also assisted in the administration of a summer program for the students. Upon graduating from law school, I became the legal counsel at the University of Oklahoma. After more than three decades, I find higher education issues just as fascinating as I did as a young girl curled up in the corner of the auditorium."

Why did you apply to be a part of the Forward50? What drew you to this opportunity?

"The description of the Forward50 renewed my hope that major, unresolved issues would be addressed in a meaningful manner – by a group large enough to provide diversity of thought but small enough to allow members a real participatory role," Ledbetter said. "Participation offers an opportunity to address new challenges as well as old issues through a deliberative process. The Forward50 offers a mechanism for insightful inquiry and review and its deliberations may well provide some answers and/or alternatives for addressing the complex issues that threaten our great higher education system."

Leadership roles with professional associations:

  • National Association of College and University Attorneys (NACUA): Past President of House of Delegates
  • Bryant University Board of Trustees: Past Chair of Academic Affairs Committee
  • American Bar Association (ABA): Past Chair - Non-Profit Committee
  • Providence Housing Court - Former Judge

Membership(s) held with other professional associations:

  • Legal Advisory Council
  • National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU)
  • National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA)
  • American Corporate Counsel (ACC)
  • Thurgood Marshall Law Society