Harvard University selected on Thursday one of its law professors, Martha Minow LAW ’79, to be the next dean of Harvard Law School.

Minow, 54, a 28-year veteran of the law school’s faculty, succeeds Elena Kagan, who was tapped by President Barack Obama to serve as solicitor general. Her appointment is effective July 1.

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“Martha Minow has been an intellectual leader, a devoted teacher and mentor, a collaborative colleague, and an exemplary institutional citizen across her nearly three decades of service on the Harvard Law School faculty,” Harvard President Drew Gilpin Faust said in a statement. “She’s a scholar of remarkable intelligence, imagination, and scope, with a passion for legal education and a deep sense of how the law can serve essential public purposes.”

A member of the Harvard faculty since 1981, Minow’s scholarship has focused in the areas of international human rights, equality and inequality, and religion and pluralism. She also served as the chairwoman of the law school’s recent curricular reform efforts.

“I am eager to help the remarkable community of people at the Harvard Law School, in concert with colleagues across Harvard and beyond, continue to pursue the promise of the rule of law, the ideal of justice, the practical solution of problems, and ever deeper understandings of legal institutions and commitments,” Minow said in a statement.

The Yale Law School congratulated Minow in a statement Thursday. “She is a distinguished scholar and citizen of Harvard University, and we take special pride in counting her an alumna of Yale Law School,” Acting Dean Kate Stith said. “Professor Minow is an outstanding choice as dean.”

Minow did her undergraduate work at the University of Michigan and then received a master’s degree in education from Harvard before heading to Yale Law School, where she was in the same class as Sonia Sotomayor LAW ’79, whom Obama has nominated for a seat on the Supreme Court. She later clerked for Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall.

Among Minow’s students at Harvard was Obama himself. In fact, the Harvard Law Bulletin recounted last fall that it was Minow who recommended Obama for a summer associate position at the Chicago law firm Sidley & Austin, where her father was an attorney. While working there, Obama befriended a young lawyer, Michelle Robinson, who is now the first lady.