April 28-May 4, 2000
Back Issues
Researchers looking for causes of heart disease
Off the Shelf - recently published books by U.Va. faculty and staff
Onuf elucidates Jefferson's nation-making

All-University Outstanding Teaching Award winners

Q&A - Engineering Dean Richard Miksad
After Hours - On the roof or ground, Quillon takes chess to new heights
Faculty Actions from the April BOV meeting
In Memoriam
Hot Links - Cavalier Computers
ITC's Office Technology Conference to be held May 10
WFPA honors Sisson and Allen
Whether they challenge students with heavy reading loads or rigorous exercises in the Socratic method, the five teachers who won the Alumni Association's All-University Outstanding Teaching Awards this month know how to win over their students -- with an enthusiasm that conveys not only their expertise, but a belief in students'ability to rise to their expectations. Included in this week's issue are three of the winners. Next week, we'll feature the other two, Drs. Tina Brashers and Julia Iezzoni.

Ken Abraham
Tom Cogill
Ken Abraham

Students love professors' winning ways

Abraham puts his students through strenuous mental exercise

Ken Abraham teaches courses on torts, insurance and evidence, not the most electrifying sub- jects in many law students' eyes, and he is known for requiring, in one colleague's words, "strenuous mental exercise" from his charges. Yet he is one of the most popular teachers in the Law School.

"To be at once substantive, demanding -- the rap on him among students is that he is one of the two or three hardest teachers in the Law School -- and wildly popular teaching courses like [insurance and evidence] is something close to a miracle," wrote William J. Stuntz, Class of 1962 Professor and Horace W. Goldsmith Research Professor, in recommending Abraham for the award. "I suspect Ken teaches the only insurance class in American legal education that regularly has 100-plus enrollments."

Kenneth S. Abraham, Class of 1962 Professor of Law and Albert C. Tate Jr. Research Professor, was voted "best professor" in the February 1999 issue of Virginia Law Weekly, based on the results of a survey among law students.

"Professor Abraham is by far the very best professor I have ever had at any academic level. His unfailing love for teaching tort law, coupled with his highly organized and remarkably inspiring teaching style, have significantly raised the bar [by] which I will judge every professor," wrote Michael McCann, class of 2002.

Abraham, a nationally recognized scholar on insurance and tort law who came to U.Va. in 1984, uses the Socratic method, questioning students rigorously. "He pushes them hard," wrote law professor Barbara E. Armacost. "The depth Ken brings to the students' understanding makes the strenuous mental exercise worth it."

Abraham's students praised his accessibility, noting that, unless he is teaching or in a meeting, he is available 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day, Monday to Friday. Students are often lined up in the hall outside his door, noted Law dean Robert Scott.

To make theory practical for students, Abraham uses examples from his law practice; strives to present material in a clear, organized manner; and seeks "to make students uncomfortable about their own preconceptions" about the law, he wrote in a statement about his teaching.

He also draws on his enthusiasm: "I love the subjects I teach, and I love being in the classroom," he wrote.

-- Nancy Hurrelbrinck

Kruger's classes have that je ne sais quoi

Waldner instills basics of critical thinking


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