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Law School Teaching Awards
July 13, 2010, Volume 57, No. 01

The Law School announced the recipients of their 2010 teaching awards.

Leo Levin Award


Matthew Adler, the Leon Meltzer Professor of Law, has been awarded the A. Leo Levin Award for Excellence in an Introductory Course. Professor Adler is an expert in administrative and constitutional law, with particular focus on policy analysis, risk regulation, and constitutional theory. He holds a BA and JD from Yale University and an MLitt in modern history from Oxford University, and has served as a law clerk to Justice Sandra Day O’Connor of the US Supreme Court and Judge Harry Edwards of the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit. Professor Adler has twice received the Harvey Levin Award for Excellence in Teaching, as selected by a vote of the graduating class. He has also received the University’s Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching.

As a teacher, students describe Professor Adler as “wonderful,” “fantastic,” and “amazing.” In a representative comment, one student wrote, “Adler is brilliant, and has an infectious love for what he teaches. I feel privileged to have learned from him.” Students widely credit Professor Adler for “breathing fresh life” into potentially dry subjects. “Adler manages to make Admin riveting. He snuffs the dryness right out from under it,” wrote one student. “Every day is like a workout at the mental gym,” wrote another student of Professor Adler’s administrative law class. Echoing that sentiment, a student noted that Professor Adler “clearly respects the intelligence of students [and is] super engaging—I left class every day with my head spinning.”

Harvey Levin Memorial Award


C. Edwin Baker, the Nicholas F. Gallicchio Professor of Law and Communication who first joined the Penn Law faculty in 1981, has been elected posthumously by the graduating class as the recipient of the Harvey Levin Memorial Award for Excellence in Teaching. Professor Baker, who died suddenly in December, (Almanac December 15, 2009) was a leading scholar of constitutional law, communications law and free speech, and one of the country’s foremost authorities on the First Amendment and on mass media policy. He was also a beloved teacher. 

“Ed Baker was a brilliant scholar [and] a dedicated teacher,” said Dean Michael A. Fitts. “Generations of students and lawyers benefitted from his insights, his high expectations and his caring approach to everyone around him.”

At the Law School’s commencement ceremony in May, student Rajeh Saadeh announced the award, recalling Professor Baker as “the embodiment of all of the qualities that make up the ideal law school professor: an excellent teacher, a passionate advocate, and a tireless researcher.” “And as a former student of his,” Mr. Saadeh said, “I can add that he was also a warm soul who cared deeply about his students, colleagues, and the many voiceless people whom he strived to uplift.”


Robert A. Gorman Award


David Skeel, the S. Samuel Arsht Professor of Corporate Law, has been awarded the Robert A. Gorman Award for Excellence in Teaching. Professor Skeel is the author of Icarus in the Boardroom (Oxford, 2005) and Debt’s Dominion: A History of Bankruptcy Law in America (Princeton, 2001), as well as numerous articles and other publications. He is a highly sought-after expert and regularly appears on national news programs such as Nightline, Chris Matthews’ Hardball (MSNBC), National Public Radio, and Marketplace, and is quoted regularly in prominent publications including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post. Professor Skeel has twice received the Harvey Levin Memorial Award for Excellence in Teaching, as selected by a vote of the graduating class, and has also received the University’s Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching. He holds a BA from the University of North Carolina and a JD from the University of Virginia. 

Among students, Professor Skeel is known for bringing deep expertise, enthusiasm, and wit to the classroom. “Skeel is fantastic. He really enlivens what could be extremely tedious subject matter,” wrote one student. “Professor Skeel is fun, engaging, and makes bankruptcy interesting!” noted another. Students praise Professor Skeel for his skill at making difficult concepts understandable and his dedication to engaging students. “This class was fantastic, and I loved attending! Professor Skeel breaks down difficult concepts into a very easy to understand way,” said one student. Another added, “Professor Skeel is great. I really appreciate how he digests student responses even when they aren’t necessarily what he expected.” And in a testament to Professor Skeel’s outstanding teaching, one student noted, “I had no interest in corporate law before taking this course, but I actually found the course fascinating.”

Adjunct Teaching Award


The Honorable Louis Pollak, Judge of the United States District Court of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, has been awarded Penn Law’s Adjunct Teaching Award. Judge Pollak, who received a BA from Harvard and an LLB from Yale, was formerly a full-time faculty member and dean of the Law School. Since joining the judiciary in 1978, Judge Pollak has continued to teach a seminar at Penn Law as an adjunct professor. His teaching and scholarly interests focus primarily on constitutional law.

Students describe Judge Pollak as an “incredibly engaging, insightful, and knowledgeable” teacher with a fresh perspective on the law. “Judge Pollak provides a perspective on the early history of the Court that you will not get anywhere else. His passion for the material is obvious,” said one student. Another student wrote, “Judge Pollak had us think about non-obvious issues from the cases we read, which was very interesting and really made me learn many things I would never have noticed from reading the cases on my own.” Similarly, a student noted that “Judge Pollak stimulates interest in areas that I would never have thought to look at before. He brings an entirely new perspective.” As a result of Judge Pollak’s teaching, one student wrote, “I have a newly found love for our earlier constitutional history.”



Almanac - July 13, 2010, Volume 57, No. 01