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2009 Goldman Prize for Excellence in Teaching

Drew, Miller, and Eisele Receive 2009 Goldman Teaching Excellence Award

Challenging. Engaging. Uncanny. Committed. These adjectives describe the 2009 Goldman Prize for Excellence in Teaching recipients. All have demonstrated their commitment to students and unrelenting support of the College of Law. Congratulations to this year’s recipients: Margaret B. Drew, Darrell A.H. Miller, and Thomas D. Eisele.

Professor Margaret B. Drew. Her accomplishments and abilities as a professor can’t be boiled down to buzzwords and one-liners, said students when nominating her. On the contrary, Professor Drew, a two-time Goldman Prize recipient, embodies the ideal educator. Her classroom skills are matched only by her mastery of the material and true interest in student development. Her favorite phrase, “Leap and the net will appear,” provides students with confidence as well as support as they navigate the halls of the law school and the courtroom. But it isn’t just that she encourages her students to leap; it is that through care and repetition she makes students sure the net will actually appear if they leap. She impresses upon them that “leaping” is nothing more than the next natural step in their development as attorneys. With classes that are a mix of theory and practice and supportive, ongoing supervision, Professor Drew’s students speak of her dedication and commitment as an educator. Her nominating students said it clearly: “What Professor Drew provides is clear notice that, just as your education is ongoing, so too will her presence be in your life as a friend, confidant, and educator.”

Professor Darrell A.H. Miller. A reputation as a collaborator and an ability to reach students at every level are what deeply impressed students about Professor Miller. In only his second year at the College of Law, Professor Miller has demonstrated his commitment to students and ability to adapt to the varying needs of a diverse student body without compromising his unique approach to the law. In fact, students in his Civil Procedure class have been impressed by his steps to inject an element of practicality into one of the more drier and mechanical first-year courses. The positive reactions to his class and his passion for the subject are only part of his success. The real testament to his achievements in teaching, wrote students when nominating him, is what he is able to elicit from his students, and the self-confidence, intellectual curiosity, and self-reflection that follow. Indeed, he has crafted a use of the Socratic Method that makes students prepared for class. The preparation doesn’t come from fear, wrote students, but out of a genuine desire to perform and participate in the discussion as intellectual equals—a result that Professor Miller sees as not only possible, but as a valuable ideal.

Professor Thomas D. Eisele. It is a rare student who has not taken at least one class with Professor Eisele; and rarer still is the student who doesn’t heap praise on him upon mention of his name.  An engaging and energetic instructor, Professor Eisele has a teaching style that is comprehensive, compassionate, and considerate, said students when nominating him for the award. A five-time recipient of the prize, Professor Eisele is said to be challenging and direct, but never abrasive. In fact, he uses the Socratic Method in a collaborative way by treating students more like partners in conversation, and less like witnesses under cross-examination! Professor Eisele enjoys the “give and take” of classroom discussion and keeps students’ attention by fostering robust dialogue, presenting the material clearly, and patiently answering every question. It is evident that he spends a significant amount of time preparing material for class. He creates a compendium of supplemental materials, affectionately nicknamed “the supp.,” for students, which contains answers to questions from the text and his personal insights on the law and its development. Best of all, he takes the time to learn each student’s name, earning their respect along the way. Trivial to some, his students appreciate this gesture of hospitality and repay it with warmth and admiration.

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.