Southwestern Law School Los Angeles, CA

News Release

June 30, 2003
2003 Excellence in Teaching Award

Southwestern is pleased to announce that Professor Karen R. Smith has been selected to receive the 2003 Excellence in Teaching Award. Professor Smith, described as "flexible, encouraging, demanding, patient, and prepared - in essence - outstanding," joined Southwestern's faculty in 1982.

Nominations emphasized her teaching style and classroom demeanor. Students commented that Professor Smith "is very knowledgeable and cares deeply that students grasp the concepts that she is teaching." Students noted that Professor Smith "has taken the time to get to know each student in her class" and "seems to sense how each student might respond" and "while she has high expectations in class, helps to clarify complex and sometimes difficult material so that every student understands." She "really cares that students understand the concepts that she is teaching."

Nominations emphasized Professor Smith's availability to students as individuals, stating that "(s)he makes herself available whenever a student needs to see her, is very welcoming and is willing to answer any questions." Others noted that Professor Smith "sincerely cares about her students and is willing to rearrange her schedule to cater to her students' needs" and observed that she "even took the time to go over details of my test results which gave me very productive and encouraging feedback." "I feel," said another, "that she is always there for me, making sure I understand, genuinely concerned about me, always willing to go the extra mile - she treats me and other students more as junior criminal lawyers than as law students."

Nominations expressed Professor Smith's "sensitivity to her students' needs and patient awareness of topics that are the most difficult for students to comprehend." Several expressed the view that she had "covered materials and concepts at a level of depth that was unimaginable at the start of the course." One student stated that she had really made the "materials come alive." Another commented that prior to taking the course "(the student) had no interest in criminal law, but after the course was completed (the student) really wanted to pursue a career in criminal law." Another student concluded that Professor Smith "is one of the best teachers I have ever had, one of the most professional and one of the kindest and most supportive people I have ever known."