Barbara Billingsley begins her term as dean at the University of Alberta Faculty of Law

Longtime professor is first woman to be permanently appointed to the leadership role

Helen Metella - 30 June 2020

On July 1, Barbara Billingsley becomes the new dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Alberta, in a five-year appointment that was announced last December.

A former practising lawyer and a full-time professor with the Faculty since 2001, she is the first woman to be permanently appointed its dean. (Former Deputy Prime Minister Anne McLellan was acting dean in 1991-1992, before she entered federal politics.)

Billingsley is a UAlberta alumna who received a BA in political science in 1987 and her LLB and LLM from the Faculty of Law in 1990 and 1995, respectively. She practised civil litigation in Edmonton at Brownlee LLP and at Sharek & Co, and began teaching at the Faculty as a sessional in 1996.

As a professor, she has taught insurance law, civil litigation and constitutional law. She has also served as the Faculty’s associate dean of research and of graduate studies.

“Barbara Billingsley is perfectly suited to leadership,” said Justice Russell Brown of the Supreme Court of Canada, a faculty colleague of hers at UAlberta law for several years before his appointment to the bench in 2015.

“She listens carefully, assesses fairly and reasonably, and acts with integrity.”

As incoming dean, Billingsley says that her immediate goals are “to ensure that the Faculty of Law continues to provide a superior legal education to our students despite the practical challenges posed by the pandemic and budget cuts, and to identify and implement constructive Faculty responses to address contemporary issues relating to diversity, equity and inclusion.”

Billingsley takes over the role of dean from David R. Percy, QC, who has been interim dean since July 1, 2019.

“Along with all faculty and staff, I'm enormously grateful to David Percy for his willingness to serve as interim dean for the past year and for his leadership and steady hand,” said Billingsley. “David has been a member of our Faculty for over 50 years (he started teaching here in 1969) and previously served as dean from 2001 to 2009. His dedication to our Faculty is unsurpassed and I'm extremely lucky to have him as a mentor as I take up the office of dean."