Melissa Essary joined Campbell Law School as its fourth dean in July 2006 following a 16-year career as a professor at Baylor University School of Law. Essary served as Campbell Law Dean for six years before moving into a full-time faculty position in July 2012.
Essary is a 1982 summa cum laude graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and a 1985 magna cum laude graduate of the Baylor University School of Law. While studying at Baylor Law, she served as Executive Editor of the Baylor Law Review. Following graduation, she served as a trial lawyer for two Texas firms, most notably the Vinson and Elkins firm of Dallas, where she litigated complex commercial cases.
Essary joined the faculty at Baylor Law in 1990 where she served with great distinction, teaching courses primarily in Employment Discrimination Law and Torts Law. She was a popular instructor, scholar, and speaker at Baylor and was awarded the university’s Outstanding Tenured Teacher Award in 2001. The Texas Bar Foundation awarded her the Outstanding Law Journal Article Award in 1997 for a series of articles entitled “Privacy in the Workplace.”
Upon joining Campbell Law, Essary immediately became a vital member of the Campbell University leadership team. In October 2007, the Campbell University Board of Trustees voted unanimously to relocate the law school from its traditional home on the Campbell campus in Buies Creek to a new location in the heart of downtown Raleigh, following the recommendation of a task force that she led. Under Essary’s leadership, the law school realized unprecedented demand from highly credentialed prospective students, raised the profile and scholarship of law faculty, and developed new business and community partnerships throughout Raleigh and across the state.
Essary has been appointed by the North Carolina Chief Justice to a three-year term on the Committee on Professionalism. She serves on the Wake County Bar Association’s Professionalism Committee. She recently completed a second term as Chair of the North Carolina Bar Association’s Law School Liaison Committee. An active member of the Raleigh community, Essary serves on the board of directors of the Triangle/Eastern NC chapter of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and its Development Committee, as well as on the Board of Governors of the Brier Creek Country Club. She serves on the Board of Advisors for the Raleigh Chamber of Commerce, where she also serves on the planning committee for the Executive Women’s Luncheon. She has served as Vice President of the Board of Governors of the North Carolina Bar Association, as well as on the Board of Directors of the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce and its Government Affairs Committee, the Executive Board of Directors of the Downtown Raleigh Alliance, and the Board of Governors of the Cardinal Club in Raleigh. She also has served on the Strategic Planning Committee of the Public Service Committee of the Wake County Bar Association.
Since joining Campbell Law, Essary has been honored as a Woman of Justice by N.C. Lawyer’s Weekly. N.C. Business Leader media honored her several times for her work and leadership in the Raleigh region, including recognition as a Triangle Area Woman Extraordinaire, Business Impact Leader, and Education Impact Leader. She has received the Women of Achievement Award from the General Federation of Women’s Clubs of North Carolina in recognition of her professional and community work and serving as a role model for future generations.
Essary and her husband, Larry, live in Raleigh. They have two daughters, Amber and Rachel.