Strahilevitz and Levmore Honored at Graduating Students Dinner
As three years of law school come to a close for the class of 2010, the graduating students voted to honor two Law School professors for the impact the professors had on their education and quality of life.
This year's Graduating Students Award for Teaching Excellence was presented at the Graduating Students Dinner to Lior Strahilevitz, Deputy Dean, Professor of Law, and Walter Mander Teaching Scholar. Strahilevitz teaches Privacy and Property courses, and has taught seminars on Property Theory, Trade Secrets, and Law and the Economic Development of Chicago.
The Graduating Students Class Award was presented to Saul Levmore, the William B. Graham Professor of Law, for his contributions to improving the quality of student life. Levmore was Dean of the Law School for all but the last two quarters of the 3Ls' time at the Law School.
In honoring Strahilevitz, students said they admired him for enlivening his classes and making complicated subject matters easier to understand. "The people voting for him tended to praise his straightforward use of the Socratic method and lucid presentation of the class material," said Nick Kodes, a 3L who led the faculty awards process.
Strahilevitz joined the Law School faculty in 2002. In 2005, Strahilevitz was the recipient of the Graduating Students Class Award.
"My approach is to only teach issues that I can get myself interested in and excited about-and the more I've learned over the years, the easier it's been to get excited," he said. "If I have a hard time mustering up curiosity about a topic, I will never be able to convince the students that they should be interested in it."
His teaching strategy focuses on ensuring that every student in a class enriches the discussion. "I do my best to create a natural conversation out of what is at first blush a jarring and bizarre interaction-96 students listening in on a Socratic dialogue between a professor and a student," he said.
Striving daily for these worthwhile interactions has a long-term reward: Seeing how much students have grown between the first day of their 1L classes and graduation day, he said.
For Levmore, the class of 2010 expressed an appreciation for his trademark dry humor and sarcasm, affectionately parodied in this year's Law School Musical, but students admired him most for his leadership of the Law School. "Students praised his work as dean in terms of accessibility to the student body and straightforward approach to many issues facing the school," Kodes said.
Levmore joined the Law School faculty in 1998 and was the Dean of the Law School from 2001 to 2009. He has taught torts, corporations, non-profit organizations, comparative law, public choice, corporate tax, commercial law, insurance, and contracts. Improving student life was a goal of Levmore's while he was dean, he said.
"I wish I had been a student here, and maybe even a member of the class of 2010, and I tried, perhaps subconsciously, to help make it a law school that I would have wanted to attend-along with classmates and friends who were different from me," he said.
As much as the two professors impacted the class of 2010, the students also made an impression on the professors.
"It was and still is a great class," Levmore said. "I like that they appreciated Chicago for what it is (and can be)-open to discussion, not unnecessarily politically correct, honest with them, and so forth."
"It's a group that's deeply committed to the institution and constantly pushing us to make the Law School better. They have been like that in class, they are like that in extracurricular settings, and they are like that when they come into my office to debate, complain, strategize, or shoot the breeze," Strahilevitz said. "The class has faced challenges that their recent predecessors didn't have to confront - and they have demonstrated phenomenal resilience, dignity, and cooperation in supporting each other through difficult times."
The third-year students also selected Levmore and Strahilevitz to be faculty hooders at the graduation hooding ceremony. Other faculty hooders are Douglas Baird, the Harry A. Bigelow Distinguished Service Professor of Law, and David Strauss, the Gerald Ratner Distinguished Service Professor of Law.