Emerita Professor of Law
Senior Adviser to Executive Vice President for UNM Health Sciences Center
A.B. 1972, San Diego State University
J.D. 1978, Harvard Law School
Member of the Massachusetts, New Mexico and New York Bars
Margaret Montoya was born in Las Vegas, New Mexico to Ricardo and Virginia Montoya. She traces her ancestry to families who have been in New Mexico since it was controlled by Spain in the early 19th Century and by México until 1848.
She attended Immaculate Conception School in Las Vegas, for elementary school, and when her family moved to Albuquerque, she attended and graduated from Highland High School. After many second chances, she graduated in 1972 with her bachelor’s degree from San Diego State University.
Upon deciding to go to law school, she was the first Latina to be accepted to Harvard Law School. When she graduated with her law degree in 1978, she won the prestigious Harvard University’s Sheldon Traveling Fellowship (also won by Justice Antonin Scalia), which allowed her to travel through Europe and Asia, studying affirmative action in Malaysia and India.
Montoya has been a member of the UNM law school faculty since 1992 and has taught courses in constitutional rights, torts, contracts, clinical law and employment law, and in her seminars, she examines issues of race, ethnicity, gender, culture and language.
From 2003-2005, she was interim director of the Southwest Hispanic Research Institute, which was established in 1980 to serve as UNM’s interdisciplinary center for the study of the Hispanic experience in the Southwest.
Montoya has been working to create P-20 pipeline partnerships with the New Mexico Hispanic Bar Association, the public schools, the judiciary, nonprofits and policymakers. In 2003, a group of law students under her supervision filed an amicus brief in Grutter v. Bollinger, anaffirmative action case decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. Her work on pipeline and other health disparity issues led to her assignment as the senior adviser to the executive vice president at the UNM Health Sciences Center. She holds a secondary appointment in the center’s Department of Community and Family Health. She has been a member of the UNM School of Medicine’s admission committee for its Combined BA/MD Degree program.
Montoya’s scholarship appears in law reviews, anthologies and casebooks and is used in many high school, undergraduate, graduate and law school courses throughout the United States. Her best-known article, Mascaras, Trenzas y Greñas: Un/Masking the Self While Un/Braiding Latina Stories and Legal Discourse, connects autobiographical narratives with legal analysis and focuses on resisting the cultural assimilation that often comes with higher education.
She was the lead scholar of a comprehensive American Bar Association initiative that analyzed a broad set of information aimed at advancing racial/ethnic, gender, disability and sexual orientation diversity within the legal profession. The result of the two-year effort, “Diversity in the Legal Profession: Next Steps”, a 68-page report, was released in April 2010.
From 2004-2009, Montoya was a regular commentator on The Line, a weekly PBS television show that analyzes current events in New Mexico. She has been featured on Democracy Now, a public radio show, in connection with her portrayal of the prosecutor in a mock trial sponsored by the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee from Sept. 24-26, 2005 in Washington, D.C. Click here for video and pictures of the mock trial of the prosecution of major Bush administration figures, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and former CIA Director George Tenet, “indicted” for aiding and abetting torture around the world.
Montoya has been recognized by her professional peers and by the Latina/o community for her work. In 2009, the CUNY School of Law named her the Haywood Burns Chair in Civil Rights. She is the recipient of the prestigious Clyde Ferguson Award, given annually by law professors of color for accomplishments in scholarship, teaching and service. Both the National Latina/o Law Students Association and UNM’s Graduate and Professional Students of Color awarded her Lifetime Achievement Awards. The New Mexico Hispano Round Table, a coalition of some 60 Hispano/Latino organizations, gave her itsWalk the Talk award. She was named by Hispanic Business Magazine to its list of Elite Latinas and also received the Kate Stoneman Award from Albany Law School for expanding opportunities for women.
She is featured in the books, Mujeres Valorosas, written by the New Mexico Hispanic Women’s Council, and Pioneering Women Lawyers, edited by Patricia E. Salkin, for the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession.
Montoya has been married to UNM Mathematics Professor Charles Boyer for 30 years. They have two daughters, Diana and Alejandra, and a stepson, Charles.