College of Law

Frances Ansley

Professor Emeritus, College of Law Distinguished Professor of Law


BA, 1969, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University (formerly Radcliffe College)
JD, 1979, University of Tennessee College of Law
LLM, 1988, Harvard Law School


Professor Ansley’s expertise reaches beyond the law school and into the community. While teaching at the College of Law, she often found ways to involve her students in collaborative projects aimed at working with communities to tackle problems of injustice, and her scholarly research tended in a similar direction.

Since retiring from teaching in 2007, she has continued both her active scholarship and community engagement.  She still works with faculty and students from the College of Law on projects of mutual interest.  Over the years Professor Ansley’s writings have explored a range of issues.  Most recently she has focused largely on immigrants’ rights and labor rights and the relationship between the two.

Professor Ansley’s articles have appeared in a number of law reviews, including California, Colorado, Cornell, Georgetown, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee.  She co-edited a 2009 book on Latino immigration to the Southeastern United States, and she has contributed chapters to several interdisciplinary books on issues of race, gender, poverty, and workers’ responses to globalization.

In addition to her legal scholarship, Professor Ansley is co-author of a memoir concerning a 1989 coal miners’ strike in southwest Virginia, co-editor/author of an oral history of labor struggles in several East Tennessee coal mining communities, and co-author of the original edition of Our Bodies, Our Selves. She served as principal humanities adviser to a documentary film on impacts of globalization in East Tennessee that was directed and produced by independent filmmaker Anne Lewis.

With regard to professional service, Professor Ansley has a special commitment to lawyering for and with organizations that are working to bring about grassroots, bottom-up social change. She has provided pro bono representation, done legal and empirical research, and worked as a community legal educator with a range of such groups throughout her career.

Professor Ansley received a 2008 Heroes Award from the Latino Task Force of the Community Economic Development Network of East Tennessee, the 2007 Great Teacher Award from the Society of American Law Teachers, the 2007 Danny Mayfield Champion of Change Award from Community Shares of Tennessee, and she received from the College of Law the 2006 Harold C. Warner Outstanding Teacher Award, the 2003 Carden Award for Outstanding Achievement in Scholarship, the 1994 Marilyn V. Yarbrough Faculty Award for Writing Excellence, and the 2002 and 1993 W. Allen Separk Awards for Superior Achievement in Scholarship.