October 17, 2016 -- UCLA Law faculty member Skye Donald, widely admired for her excellent teaching and extraordinary student mentorship, succumbed to cancer on Oct. 16. She was 43.
Donald joined UCLA School of Law in 2009, and was diagnosed with a brain tumor the following year. She nonetheless taught the Lawyering Skills course to hundreds of first-year students and assisted in upper-division clinical courses, and became an enormously successful and well- regarded teacher. In recognition of her excellence as an instructor, she was awarded a continuing appointment as a lecturer in law in 2015.
“Even in the midst of her very serious medical issues, Skye was extraordinarily focused on the well-being of those around her,” said UCLA Law Dean Jennifer L. Mnookin. “She worked very hard to understand and connect with her students, and she coupled high expectations with extraordinary empathy. We have lost a wonderful teacher, colleague and friend.”
Prior to joining UCLA Law, Donald was a litigator at Morrison and Foerster in Los Angeles, where she focused on matters including trade secrets, contract disputes, unfair business practices and Securities and Exchange Commission investigations. She maintained an active pro bono practice, representing a Saudi detainee at Guantanamo Bay and successfully litigating an asylum claim for a transgender Mexican woman, a habeas petition for a former gang member, a civil rights case for foster youth, and back-pay claims on behalf of local domestic workers. Prior to attending law school, she worked for human rights organizations.
“Skye drew respect and admiration through her fierce intelligence, deep concern for students, and wonderful sense of humor,” said UCLA Law Associate Dean for Curriculum and Academic Affairs Eileen Scallen, who supervises the school’s Lawyering Skills program. “Students loved her honesty and candor as she worked with them to improve their writing and professionalism. I’ve lost track of the number of students who have told me she was their favorite professor at the law school.”
Donald earned a B.A. in History in 1995 from the University of California at Berkeley, an M.A. in 1998 in Journalism and Latin American Studies from New York University, and a J.D. in 2004 from New York University, where she was an associate editor of the NYU Law Review.
She is survived by her husband, Rafael Jimenez, and their son, Mateo.
A fund has been established to support the education of Skye’s six-year-old son, Mateo, and contributions may be made at the Law School or through You Caring.