Law professor and university president James Matthew Douglas was born on February 11, 1944 in Onalaska, Texas to Desso and Mary Douglas. He graduated from Texas Southern University in 1966 with his B.A. degree in mathematics. In 1970, Douglas received his J.D. degree from Texas Southern University’s Thurgood Marshall School Of Law, where he graduated first in his class. He went on to receive his J.S.M. degree in computer law from Stanford University in 1971.
From 1966 to 1971, Douglas worked as a computer analyst for Singer Simulation Company, a National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) contractor in Houston, Texas. In 1971, he was hired as an assistant professor of law at Texas Southern University. Douglas then worked as an assistant professor at Cleveland State University School of Law from 1972 to 1975; associate professor of law and associate dean at Syracuse University College of Law from 1975 to 1980; and professor of law at Northeastern University School of Law from 1980 to 1981. Then, in 1981, Douglas returned to Texas Southern University, where he was hired as dean and professor of law at the university’s Thurgood Marshall School of Law. He served as interim provost and senior vice president for academic affairs in 1995, and, later that year, was named president of Texas Southern University. After his presidency ended in 1999, Douglas was named a distinguished professor of law at the Thurgood Marshall School of Law. He also served as Florida A & M University’s interim dean from 2005 to 2007, and was made executive vice president of Texas Southern University in 2008.
Douglas has served on the board of directors of the Hiscock Legal Society, Gulf Coast Legal Foundation and the Law School Admission Council. He was also a member of the Minority Affairs Committee of the Law School Admission Council, served as the American Bar Association’s chairman of education for the Committee of Science and Technology Section, and was a member of The Texas Lawyer Editorial Board. He has also authored several articles that have appeared in scholarly journals.
Douglas lives in Houston, Texas and is married to Tanya Smith Douglas. He has three children: DeLicia, James and Erika.
James Douglas was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on March 4, 2014.