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Melynda J. Price


William L. Matthews, Jr. Professor of Law

Room 219 College of Law

(859) 257-1678


Melynda Price is the William L. Matthews, Jr. Professor of Law and the John and Joan Gaines Professor of Humanities.  Since 2018, she has been the Director of the Gaines Center for the Humanities.  The Gaines Center  is devoted to cultivating an appreciation of the humanities among students and faculty and embraces varied paths of knowledge. 

In  2017, she was named University Research Professor, which is awarded by the University of Kentucky to faculty for outstanding research achievements.  From 2012 to 2017, Professor  Price was the Director of the African American and Africana Studies Program in the College of Arts and Sciences. She is an affiliated faculty member in the African American and Africana Studies Program and the Department of Gender and Women’s Studies.  

Professor Price is the author of At the Cross: Race, Religion and Citizenship in the Politics of the Death Penalty (Oxford University Press, 2015).  Her work has been published in both peer-reviewed social science and law journal, newspapers and literary journals. In addition to her published research, she is a member of the UNITed in Racial Equity (UNITE)  Research Priority Advisory Board and has served as a panel reviewer for multiple national research foundations. 
Professor Price joined the UK College of Law as an Assistant Professor in the fall of 2006 after completing the doctorate degree in Political Science from the University of Michigan. Her dissertation was awarded the 2007 Best Dissertation Award from the Race, Ethnicity and Politics Section of the American Political Science Association. In addition to her degree in political science, she also earned a J.D. from the University of Texas School of Law in 2002. While at the University of Texas, she was a member of the Texas International Law Journal and was awarded both the University of Texas Coop Award for Public Interest Law and the Baron and Budd Scholarship for Public Interest Law. She completed her undergraduate studies in Physics at Prairie View A&M University in 1995.

Professor Price’s research focuses on race, gender and citizenship, the politics of punishment and the role of law in the politics of race and ethnicity in the U.S. and at its borders. In 2008, she was awarded a Ford Foundation Diversity Postdoctoral Fellowship. Her host institution was the Capital Punishment Center at the University of Texas School of Law. She was a 2016-2017 fellow in the Law and Public Affairs Program at Princeton University.


  • B.S., cum laude, Prairie View A&M University (1995)
  • J.D., University of Texas School of Law (2002)
  • Ph.D., Political Science, University of  Michigan (2006)


  • Race and the Law
  • Gender and the Law
  • Citizenship
  • Capital Punishment

Books & Book Chapters

Scholarly Articles

Scholarship is available for download at Professor Melynda J. Price's SelectedWorks page.

  • Performing Discretion or Performing Discrimination: An Analysis of Race and Ritual in Batson Decisions in Capital Jury Selection, 15 Mich. J. Race & L. 57 (2009).
  • Balancing Lives: Individual Accountability and the Death Penalty as Punishment for Genocide (Lessons from Rwanda), 21 Emory Int'l L. Rev. 563 (2007).
  • Litigating Salvation: Race, Religion and Innocence in the Karla Faye Tucker and Gary Graham Cases, 15 S. Cal. Rev. L. & Women's Stud. 267 (2006).

The University of Kentucky Gaines Center for the Humanities is exploring the legacy of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in its most recent interview with retired Judge Jennifer Coffman on “Over Yonder: Conversations with Artists and Scholars on Social Distancing.” Ginsburg is considered the "architect of the legal fight for women's rights."

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February 8, 2018
By Whitney Harder

Much like University of Kentucky College of Law students, former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, the first African American to hold that office, saw law as a way to make an impact.

"Through law and working through the system I thought I could be a force for change," he said Tuesday evening on campus.

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January 23, 2018

On Tuesday, February 6, the University of Kentucky College of Law will host The Honorable Eric H. Holder, Jr., 82nd Attorney General of the United States and Partner, Covington & Burling LLP, as part of the Roy R. and Virginia F. Ray Lecture Series.

The event will take place at UK’s Memorial Hall at 5:00 p.m. There is no fee to attend the event, but registration is required. Melynda J. Price, William L. Matthews, Jr. Professor of Law at UK, will serve as moderator.

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May 15, 2017

The University of Kentucky Office of the Vice President for Research, with approval by the Board of Trustees, selected Melynda Price, Robert E. Harding, Jr. Associate Professor of Law at the University of Kentucky College of Law, as the college’s University Research Professor for the 2017-18 academic year.

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November 22, 2016

Ismaila Ceesay, third-year law student at the University of Kentucky College of Law, and Melynda Price, Robert E. Harding, Jr. Associate Professor of Law and director of African American and Africana Studies in the UK College of Arts and Sciences, were recently honored with the Torch Bearer and Torch of Excellence Awards. Recipients are honored for significant contributions to the university and the community during the annual Lyman T. Johnson Upholding the Torch of Excellence awards ceremony.

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May 12, 2016

Melynda J. Price, the Robert E. Harding, Jr. Professor of Law at the University of Kentucky College of Law, has received a fellowship from Woodrow Wilson School’s Program in Law and Public Affairs (LAPA) and will spend the 2016-17 academic year at Princeton University. Prof. Price was one of six fellows selected in a competitive process from a large interdisciplinary and international applicant pool.

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kentucky college of law hosts law camp for area high school students

June 7-13, the UK College of Law, in conjunction with the Fayette County Bar Association (FCBA), co-sponsored the second Summer Law Institute (SLI) – a seven-day residential Law Camp for high school students interested in law and the legal profession.

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kentucky college of law faculty at keeneland

Activity around the law school has not slowed down over the summer. Many faculty members will enter the new academic year in promoted roles.

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university of kentucky college of law logo

For those who attended the Kentucky Bar Association’s 2015 Annual Convention you probably saw some familiar faces. Several professors from UK Law presented at the convention and shared their expertise with fellow lawyers. The professors involved and presentations given include:

Allison Connelly: Accommodating Transgender Students in Public Schools; Ferguson, Race and the Law

Josh Douglas: Securing the Right to Vote: The 50th Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and Current Developments in Election Law

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Congratulations to Professor Melynda Price, the recipient of the 2013 Duncan Teaching Award at the College of Law.

Professor Price is the Robert E. Harding, Jr. Associate Professor of Law. According to her students, Professor Price's classroom teaching is outstanding. Not only do the students enjoy her in the classroom, they also see Professor Price as embodying many of the values we hope our students take from law school. Typical of the student comments about Professor Price is the following:

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