Professors continue to influence through work of peers
Thirty years is a short history for a law school, but long enough for impassioned professors to make a lasting impact – even in careers cut short by illness.
At Georgia State University’s College of Law, which was founded in 1982, two early faculty members continue to inspire and influence their peers through annual awards that recognize excellence.
The Patricia T. Morgan Award for Outstanding Faculty Scholarship and the David J. Maleski Award for Teaching Excellence honor and continue the legacy of professors who passed away in mid-career.
Morgan was 53 when she died in 2002 after suffering from a stroke and lung cancer. She had served on the faculty from 1988 to 2002 and also as an associate dean. Her award recognizes a faculty member who is actively engaged in research, writing projects and other scholarly endeavors that promote and challenge the legal profession.
“Pat was absolutely intent on getting it right,” said GSU law professor Ellen Taylor, who was Morgan’s partner. “At her funeral, some of her students spoke about how they wanted to live up to her ideals of being the all-out best they can be, ethical and above board. She was a real role model of a virtuous person.”
Maleski died in 1994 of kidney cancer after joining the College of Law’s founding faculty in 1982. His award celebrates faculty members who have made innovations in course design or teaching methods and other significant contributions to the promotion of student learning.
“Even in our early years when resources were scarce, David championed and guided teacher development programs … that brought in teachers whom he knew to be exceptional models, who had the resources to mentor and cultivate the new faculty [and]make them more like the teachers David passionately wanted them to be,” close friend L. Lynn Hogue wrote in memorium.
Hogue is among the original faculty members whose pioneering efforts have been celebrated as part of the 30th anniversary of the College of Law this year. Another Maleski legacy is the GSU Law Review, which he helped establish as a means for students to mentor and guide one another, Hogue said.
“David was one of our original faculty members, and he had a Kingsfieldian kind of reputation,” said College of Law Dean Steve Kaminshine, alluding to the tough law professor in “The Paper Chase.”
“He was larger than life, and students would think that this is what they went to law school for because it was that passion that they saw on TV. He was the walking embodiment of the ideal that teaching law school was important.”
Morgan was also twice named teacher of the year in the law school. Her role as a scholar was significant for GSU because research “necessarily competed with the demands of laying the foundation of a new law school by a small faculty,” Kaminshine said.
“Pat managed to balance the demands of being a faculty member at a young law school, where there was a lot of work to do, and achieve scholarly excellence in the area of tax. She just seemed to be able to do it all.”
The latest recipients of these awards were professor Paul S. Milich for the Maleski Award and associate professor Russell D. Covey for the Morgan Award.
“David Maleski was my mentor when I started teaching 29 years ago. He was a truly fantastic and dedicated teacher,” Milich said. “It is a special honor to receive an award named after David.”
“It is more than a little humbling to join a list of such distinguished previous recipients,” Covey said. “The great thing about scholarship is that there is always the next project, and I can’t wait to begin working on it, or sharing what I learn with my students.”
Taylor, who also took over Maleski’s torts classes when he fell ill, said the recipients of these awards keep alive the example set by Maleski and Morgan.
“Russ didn’t know Pat, but he is sort of quiet and self-effacing and very funny, and Pat was like that,” Taylor said. “She had a great sense of humor but not an attention grabber at all. It was all about putting that spotlight on others. In that way, he reminds me of her.”
Kaminshine calls the awards “bookends” that remind faculty of the rewards of scholarship and teaching.
“If a law school values teaching and scholarship, this is something you can put on the table that show you truly value it,” he said. “Talk is cheap. If you value it, and want it to be rewarding, you want to offer an award that allows faculty to carve out time to do what they do even better.”
“It fosters an atmosphere of recognition and value of the faculty contributions to scholarship,” Taylor said of the Morgan Award. “It’s a ‘two-fer.’ It’s a nice award in her memory and also a nice recognition for current faculty.”
In addition to the faculty award, the Patricia T. Morgan Scholarship Fund was set up to help meet financial need for incoming students but is not yet endowed. The College of Law offers the Maleski Scholarship, a merit-based student award.
—By Michelle Hiskey, with reporting by Emily Diffenderfer of GSU College of Law