As they prepare to leave the University of Chicago Law School soon for the last time as students, the class of 2011 honored faculty members and an administrator for excellence in teaching and for improving their quality of life during their law school experience.
The Graduating Students Award for Teaching Excellence was presented to David A. Strauss, the Gerald Ratner Distinguished Service Professor of Law. Strauss, a leading constitutional law scholar, has received the award four other times since 1996. In addition to teaching courses in constitutional law, he is one of two Law School professors who teach Elements of Law, a 1L requisite unique to the Law School that introduces students to legal theory and philosophy.
The class of 2011 voted to present the Graduating Students Class Award to Saul Levmore, the William B. Graham Distinguished Service Professor of Law, for his outstanding contributions to improving the quality of student life and the spirit of community at the Law School. It was Levmore’s second year in a row receiving the honor. Levmore, who was Dean of the Law School from 2001 to 2009, taught torts, copyright, and public choice this academic year.
The class honored three others with honorable mentions for the Graduating Students Class Award. Recognition was given to Douglas Baird, the Harry Bigelow Distinguished Service Professor of Law; Robbie Kendall, Corporate and Legal Affairs Administrator; and Assistant Clinical Professor Alison Siegler, Director of the Federal Criminal Justice Project. All awards were presented at the annual Graduating Students Dinner along with awards to students for contributions to the Clinical programs, completion of 50 hours of pro bono work, and contributions to the Law School’s quality of life.
Strauss joined the Law School in 1985 following positions as Attorney-Adviser in the Office of Legal Counsel of the U.S. Department of Justice and as an Assistant to the Solicitor General of the United States. He is the author of The Living Constitution (Oxford University Press, 2010) and is one of three editors of The Supreme Court Review. Students praised him for easing their transition into law school and for being the professor whose classes everyone wants to take.
“I can't imagine a better person to help 1Ls wade into law school,” said Maribeth LeHoux, a member of the Graduating Students Committee. “Always willing to talk with students after class, respond to emails, and meet in his office, Professor Strauss is interested in making sure everyone learns. I'm so glad the rest of my class agrees with me and decided to honor Professor Strauss with this award.”
Levmore was the Brokaw Professor at the University of Virginia School of Law before joining the Law School faculty in 1998. Most recently, he and Martha Nussbaum, the Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics, were editors of the book The Offensive Internet: Speech, Privacy and Reputation (Harvard University Press, 2011), which included contributions from themselves and several other Law School scholars. He has long been a strong proponent of professors and students sharing ideas outside of class, and as dean initiated the beloved Wednesday Coffee Mess tradition, which provides a natural social setting for these types of discussions. Levmore also established and is a regular host of the Greenberg Seminars, in which students meet several times a year in professors’ homes to talk about topics that touch on the academic expertise or special interest of their hosts.
“The breadth of the winners is what really inspired us to recognize more than one person,” LeHoux said. “As former dean, Professor Levmore obviously did a lot for the Law School, but it was great to see how others contributed to the Law School in other ways: Professor Baird as a professor, Robbie Kendall as an administrator, and Professor Siegler as a clinic director. It also shows the wide range of activities in which students are involved, from playing squash with Baird, to the Corporate Lab with Robbie, to the clinics with Professor Siegler. The vote was so close–we wanted all these people to know how much they were appreciated by the class of 2011.”
The graduating class also selected Baird, Assistant Professor of Law Rosalind Dixon, Levmore and Strauss to be faculty hooders at the graduation hooding ceremony. Graduation and hooding take place Saturday, June 11 at Rockefeller Memorial Chapel.