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Robson Hall Teaching Awards Announced

June 15, 2018 — 

At the 2018 Faculty of Law Grad Dinner held Friday, June 8, Robson Hall’s two annual awards for teaching were announced. Professor Karen Busby [JD/91] received the Barney Sneiderman Award for Teaching Excellence, and Mr. Michael Walker [BA/81, LLB/85] was presented with the Dean’s Award for Teaching Excellence for Sessional Instructors.

Busby said her goal as a teacher is “to develop citizen lawyers who are ethical, effective and autonomous defenders of constitutionalism, human rights and democratic values.”

In the classroom, she hopes that her students will be actively engaged in their learning. Knowing that most adult learners do not learn well from passive lectures, Busby said she uses active learning methods such as providing class notes online in advance, in-class small group activities, self-study options, collaboration opportunities, and problem-solving tutorials. Rather than evaluating her classes with a 100% final exam, she employs diverse and constructive methods of evaluation paced throughout the term.

“I became a lawyer to change the world,” she said. “I became a law teacher to change law teaching. The former has been easier than the latter.  Receiving the Barney Sneiderman award for teaching excellence affirms that I have made some inroads towards changing law teaching.”

Walker is a supervising lawyer with Legal Aid Manitoba. He teaches the Clinical Criminal Law course at Robson Hall while supervising the University Law Clinic, which services approximately 600 cases per year. One of his students said Walker “has always been genuinely and enthusiastically interested in supporting me in my education. He takes great pride in the Clinic and students. I believe that I have become a better lawyer due to his influence.”

Walker said he is thankful for the “incredible amount” of support Legal Aid Manitoba senior management and staff have given the course, adding that students consistently give him positive feedback about the Legal Aid staff lawyers who volunteer their time to mentor the students.  “It is exciting to see students develop practice skills, build confidence and gain insights about the challenges our clients face,” he said. “It is a privilege to be involved in the course and amazing to get an award for doing it!”

The Barney Sneiderman Award was named in memory of a much-loved Robson Hall professor who taught from 1969 to 2006, and was a devoted educator both in the classroom and beyond. His family and friends thought it fitting to start a fund to honour one faculty member annually who demonstrates excellence in teaching. More information about the award and about the dedicated, passionate teacher Barney Sneiderman was, is on the Robson Hall website.

The Faculty of Law relies on lawyers practicing in the community to bring their experience and knowledge to Robson Hall to enhance our students’ education and prepare them for the practice of law. The Dean’s Teaching Award recognizes one such practicing professional instructor each year who has demonstrated professional commitment beyond the call of duty to ensure an excellent education for Manitoba’s law students. Details about this award are on the Robson Hall website.

 

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