2014 Goldman Prize for Excellence in Teaching Awarded to Professors Bettman, Chang, and Lenhart
The Goldman Prize for Excellence in Teaching is a high honor for faculty members, a point of great pride for those fortunate enough to receive it, and an important expression of our commitment to the best in teaching.
Congratulations to the three recipients of this year's prize – Professors Marianna Brown Bettman, Felix Chang, and Elizabeth (Betsy) Lenhart.
Marianna Brown Bettman, Professor of Law
Everyone knows that Professor Bettman’s first year Torts class was not the class for which one wanted to be unprepared, ever. In fact, second and third year students stressed one should avoid that at all costs. With that in mind, most incoming 1Ls expected this professor to be akin to a fire-breathing dragon. Nothing could have been further from the truth. Standing at the front of the classroom – well it could not possibly be the woman who had intimidated at least two generations of law students!
It did not take long for the class to catch on; the reasons for her reputation seemed quite clear. Her years as an appellate judge carried over into her career as an educator. Come prepared, counselor, or consequences would ensue. She was tough and set incredibly high expectations, but more importantly, she struck such a chord with students that they wanted to meet those expectations. What everyone learned, as had the classes before, was that she set the bar high but was also dedicated to making sure all could all reach it. She is always prepared to answer questions or to explain a concept in a different way.
Teaching 1Ls is not necessarily the most coveted job, but it is one that Professor Bettman carries off with grace and aplomb. Everyone fortunate enough to take her class departs the College of Law well-versed in the subject of torts. However, her impact goes far beyond that. The challenge she set served a more important purpose for the first year class: it served to teach them beyond all doubt that law school is a journey they are ready to face.
The College of Law is honored to have a woman who is so dedicated and invested in her students’ futures as a member of the faculty.
Felix Chang, Assistant Professor of Law and Director, Institute for the Global Practice of Law
“Fundamentals, fundamentals, fundamentals.
You’ve got to get the fundamentals down because
otherwise, the fancy stuff isn’t going to work.”
– Randy Pausch, “The Last Lecture”
The fundamentals of law (critical thinking, analytical reasoning, captivating arguing, and effective debunking) are the most basic – but important – tools with which law schools can equip students. Successful professors are able to instill these qualities in their students, ensuring they are transferable across the curriculum and in to practice. Professor Felix Chang is precisely such a professor.
Professor Chang has distinguished himself in the classroom by engaging students in discussion and challenging their critical analysis on a variety of topics ranging from torts, corporations, agency, partnerships, international business transactions, as well as wills, trusts, and future interests. Any student that has had or interacted with Professor Chang would attest to the command he possesses over the subjects that he teaches. His ability to break down complex legal issues into understandable, workable, and manageable problems is difficult to match. Professor Chang’s understanding and command of his subject matter is crystal clear in the real-life problems that he poses to students and the application of his teaching methods to extract reasonable, applicable, and material responses from them. He takes his time to allow students to work through issues, and provides insight, feedback, and advice on problem-solving methods during the process. As one student accurately reflected, “Professor Chang explains concepts well, has an interest in making sure the students understand the material, and his insight about how laws play out in real-life settings is compelling.”
Professor Chang also brings a light-hearted nature to his courses. His jokes, wry humor, and quotable movie moments make him more approachable to students. His attitude toward students directly reflects his desire to see them succeed.
In addition to Professor Chang’s exceptional work in the classroom and his extensive scholarship on financial reform, antitrust, and derivatives, he is the director of the Institute for the Global Practice of Law (IGPL), which seeks to increase the understanding of international law and business transactions, as well as facilitate relationships among leaders in the global legal and business communities. Such a program allows international individuals to connect with U.S. lawyers and the Cincinnati community. It also offers students (particularly LL.M students) and attorneys an opportunity to build professional ties in this area of law. IGPL’s innovative initiatives, headed by Professor Chang, work to create ties in the business law community across the world.
Professor Chang’s dedication to his work in and out of the classroom, his focus on instilling the fundamentals of good lawyering to his students, as well as his passionate investment into the lives of his students’ futures serves as a demonstration to his excellence in teaching. The College of Law is honored to have such a dedicated and hard-working professor. It is a pleasure to honor Professor Chang with the 2014 Goldman Prize for Excellence in Teaching.
Elizabeth (Betsy) Lenhart, Associate Professor of Law
Professor Betsy Lenhart is an engaging professor who truly wants to see her students succeed. She is not only an exemplary professor in the classroom, but also a great mentor, advisor, and confidant outside the classroom. While talking about her, one student shared, “I want her to win all of the awards.” – a sentiment with which many students would agree.
She often combines legal theories with real world applications, striving not only to teach the required material, but to guarantee that her students will become successful attorneys. For example, in her Legal Research and Writing class, instead of merely lecturing to her students about professionalism, Professor Lenhart used actual examples of an email chain between a prospective employer and a 3L seeking employment as an example of what not to do. She combines her skills as an educator with her impressive practical experience to shape and mold aspiring attorneys.
Teaching classes that are traditionally dominated by 1Ls, such as Legal Research and Writing, Advocacy, and Civil Procedure, Professor Lenhart has created a comfortable classroom environment that makes the daunting transition into law school a little less scary. Her students, past and present, frequently describe her as intelligent, engaging, and enjoyable. It is her approachable and warm demeanor that makes her students feel comfortable asking questions both during class and outside of it.
Not only is she an exceptional professor because of her in-classroom teaching abilities, but Professor Lenhart also spends a considerable amount of time making herself available to students outside of class. Her door is always open and she is always available and willing to talk about issues with classes or to give life advice in general. One student shared that when she felt overwhelmed by law school, she went to Professor Lenhart to talk things through. It is because of her calming presence that many students feel this way and often go to her with questions, even after they are no longer in her classes.
Professor Lenhart continually demonstrates her commitment to the education of her students, as well as their personal and professional development. It is because of these qualities that she represents excellence as a professor at the University of Cincinnati College of Law.
About the Goldman Prize for Teaching Excellence
The Goldman Prize has been awarded for over 30 years to recognize excellence in teaching. This award is unique because students nominate and choose the recipients—their professors. To make this decision, the committee also considers the professors’ research and public service as they contribute to superior performance in the classroom.