News - September 2005
Hurricane-displaced students find welcome
Friday, September 30, 2005
By Dave Gershman , Ann Arbor News
2005, The Ann Arbor News. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.
As Hurricane Katrina approached New Orleans, Zach Bromer, a law student at Tulane University, said goodbye to his life in the Big Easy, although he didn't know it at the time.
He grabbed his laptop and a week's worth of clothes, expecting to be away from his apartment for a short time. And then he headed to his family's home in Georgia.
That was in late August. Fast forward to today, and Bromer hasn't been back to New Orleans, and won't be for quite some time.
Bromer, 26, is one of almost 100 students from the hurricane zone who are temporarily taking classes at the University of Michigan. The storm closed their schools, scattering the students across the United States.
U-M, like other schools, tried to meet the displaced students' requests for admission. About 65 are undergraduates; the rest are graduate and professional students. U-M typically accepted students who have a connection to U-M or the area.
About 20 of the students received housing at U-M, said U-M spokeswoman Kelly Cunningham.
Students like Bromer are thankful that their studies won't be interrupted, but they suddenly find themselves at a new school, with new professors and new classmates.
Bromer said adjusting to his new law school - at least academically - hasn't been too difficult. Law classes are basically the same, he said.
Sure, Ann Arbor's different from New Orleans, and he's not eager for cold weather, but Bromer said that U-M has gone out of its way to welcome students like him. His girlfriend attends U-M, and he's staying with her.
"I think I'm one of the fortunate ones,'' Bromer said. "My apartment (in New Orleans) from all accounts appears to be fine. My landlord called me the other day and said he had been down there a few days ago and had walked inside my place and says it looks the same as it did.''
Nobody expected New Orleans to be so devastated, or could have predicted that schools would be closed indefinitely by the flood, so many of the students left carrying only a few belongings.
"I was planning on a long weekend,'' said Robert Brode, 24, another Tulane law student who left New Orleans with two T-shirts before the hurricane struck.
Brode left his car behind and flew to his girlfriend's place in Chicago. After a few days, when it became apparent that Tulane wasn't going to reopen, he contacted U-M, where he earned his bachelor's degree.
Aside from a few leaks, he thinks his former apartment in New Orleans is still intact. But now, he said, "(Ann Arbor) feels like home again.''
Resilience amid devastation
As Linda Teaman watched the devastation of Hurricane Katrina unfold, she didn't hesitate. She wanted to get down there fast.
"I wanted to meet people, and help people in a real way,'' she says.
Teaman, 49, a teacher at the Rudolph Steiner School of Ann Arbor and assistant conductor of the Ann Arbor Youth Chorale, first called the Red Cross to volunteer.
The next day, however, she accepted the invitation of a friend, Nancy Malone, 45, a physical therapist from Canton, who had helped out in other disasters, including the terrorist attacks.
They left Friday, Sept. 16, at 3:30 p.m. After stopping to sleep several hours in Tennessee at a truck stop, they arrived in Biloxi, Miss., the next day at 5:30 p.m. The two slept in a church, with lights out at 9 p.m., so they could get right to work again the next morning.
They and others in a group they met up with drove up and down the streets of East Biloxi to see what was needed. They cleared trees and helped clean up houses. They cleaned up an old bar, removing the pop machine and pool table, so that it could become the new home for the obliterated First Baptist Church of Biloxi.
Teaman was astonished and inspired by what she saw. Damage came from both the tidal surge from the Gulf and backwash from the Back Bay of Biloxi, she said. People were living in horrible conditions but their spirits were high because they were still alive.
Houses on the western part of the Biloxi peninsula were washed away into the Gulf, leaving no debris, and huge barges were blown up over the highway.
"Oh, my gosh, it's 100 times worse than what we're getting pictures of,'' Teaman said. "It's 360 degrees of devastation. Everybody got double-whammied.''
There were also amazing feats of survival, such as that of the Vietnamese woman whose husband and son had left the house. When the flood came, she had to swim to the top of her buffet. She stayed there several hours until the waters receded.
"These people are living in Third-World-country conditions,'' said Malone, 45. "We've got to remember that this is a long process. We need to continue the effort to help them, either with money or hands or whatever anybody can give.''
Malone has started a foundation to help raise assistance for Katrina victims. Her view is summed up on the foundation Web site - www.handsoflightinaction.org.
"I think that when faced with devastating situations such as Hurricane Katrina has given us, we choose what and who we are in the face of them,'' she writes. "Some choose to hide, some choose to downplay the severity, and some choose to roll up their sleeves and be God's hands in the world.''
Teaman, who got back in Ann Arbor last Saturday night, arrived home with a clearer perspective.
"It just confirmed all the good things I know about the world,'' she said. "It also makes me realize how unimportant some of the things are that we worry about - money, possessions and relationships.''
Dave Gershman can be reached at (734) 994-6818 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
New faculty enrich Law School scholarship
September 7, 2005
This fall the University of Michigan Law School welcomes four new members to its tenure and tenure-track faculty and four clinical assistant professors. “We are delighted to add these scholars and practitioners to our faculty,” says Evan Caminker, dean of the Law School. “Together, our new scholarly faculty bring years of practical experience and a broad array of interests that will enrich the intellectual life here, and of course our clinical and Legal Practice faculty are all seasoned attorney/teachers, providing the practical training in lawyering that our students expect.”
Joining the tenure and tenure-track faculty are Professor Scott J. Shapiro and Assistant Professors Nicholas C. Howson, Madeline Kochen, and Gil Seinfeld. Shapiro comes to the Law School from Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, where he has taught for nine years. He earned his law degree at Yale and a Ph.D. in philosophy at Columbia University. Holding a joint appointment with the Law School and the Philosophy Department, Professor Sharpiro will teach Jurisprudence this fall.
Assistant Professor Nicholas C. Howson earned his J.D. from Columbia Law School and was a graduate fellow at Fudan University in Shanghai, China, prior to joining Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP. He became managing partner of the firm’s China Practice based in Beijing. In recent years, Howson also has been a lecturer in law at Columbia and on the visit faculties at Harvard and Cornell law schools. He will teach China: International Engagement/Domestic Legal Reform this fall.
Coming to the Law School from the Institute for Advanced Study, Assistant Professor Madeline Kochen researches and teaches in the areas of property, theories of justice and obligation, Talmudic law, and constitutional law. Kochen earned her J.D. from Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law and also earned an A.M. and Ph.D. from Harvard University. She has practiced in New York with the Legal Aid Society and the American Civil Liberties Union and taught at Stanford Law School, where she was director of public interest law and assistant dean of students. Professor Kochen will teach Property this fall.
Most recently an associate with Wilmer, Cutler, Pickering, Hale & Dorr, where he focused on appellate litigation, Gil Seinfeld joins the faculty as an assistant professor of law. A Harvard Law School graduate, he served as law clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and to Judge Guido Calabresi of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. He also has been a fellow in the Program in Law and Public Affairs at Princeton University. Professor Seinfeld will teach Federal Courts this fall.
In addition, the Law School also welcomes four clinical assistant professors to the faculty. Emily S. Bruce and Paul H. Falon are new to the faculty, while Mark K. Osbeck and Frank E. Vandervort, have taught at the Law School before. Professors Bruce, Fallon, and Osbeck are members of the Legal Practice Program and Vandervort has joined the clinical law program.
A graduate of Princeton University and Stanford Law School, Bruce clerked for Chief Justice Alexander O. Bryner of the Alaska Supreme Court and practiced law with Miller, Canfield, Paddock and Stone PLC in Ann Arbor prior to joining the Legal Practice faculty.
Falon earned three degrees at the University of Michigan, including his law degree. He was a partner at Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson, in Washington, D.C., and New York, and before that, at Manatt, Phelps & Phillips in Washington, specializing in insurance issues.
Also a Michigan Law grad, Osbeck has taught at the Law School before. His career has focused on commercial litigation with firms in Washington, D.C., and Denver, Colorado. Osbeck’s research interests include legal writing, jurisprudence, and tort reform.
Vandervort was the program manager for the Michigan Child Welfare Law Resource Center and he has served as an adjunct faculty member before joining the clinical law program. A graduate of Michigan State University and Wayne State University Law School, his areas of interest include child protection, juvenile delinquency, and interdisciplinary practice.
U-M Law School defies national trend
September 6, 2005
Bucking a national trend of decreasing applications at the nation’s law schools, identified in an August 22 article in the National Law Journal, the University of Michigan Law School’s applications went up, not down. The article looked at 19 of the top law schools in the country and found that Michigan Law, fourth among the schools with the largest increases, saw a 4.5 percent rise in applications for the class of 2008.
“We are delighted to see our applicant pool continue to be an abundant one — filled with high quality candidates,” Sarah Zearfoss, assistant dean and director of admissions for the Law School says. “While recently national professional school admission pools have been up and down, Michigan Law has enjoyed a consistent rise in applications for the past 5 years.” This year’s applicant pool of 5,772 has resulted in an incoming class of tremendous diversity and high academic quality, Zearfoss notes — they have the highest median LSAT and GPA ever for an entering class.
Minority enrollment at many of the 19 surveyed schools also dropped this year. However, Michigan Law reported a four percent increase here as well, making it the leader among the highlighted schools in this category.
Michigan Law’s enrolled class totals 366 students; 57 percent are males and 43 percent females. As always, the Law School draws students from throughout the United States and the world — illustrated by the 44 states, 11 foreign countries, and 142 undergraduate institutions represented within the new class. Among the new class there are 73 undergraduate majors.
Zearfoss says that the latest class of students has a broad range of interests and experiences. A sampling includes four who participated in Teach for America and seven who were Peace Corps volunteers, four who had Fulbright scholarships and two who were Truman Scholars. Another student worked with Mother Theresa in Calcutta, while one worked in Uganda with AIDS-orphaned children. The class also includes a person who was a consultant with the Homeland Security Department and another who dug up dynamite in the Appalachians in connection with the Eric Rudolph investigation.
Nippon Life Professor of Law Mark West says, “First-year students come in eager to learn and at the same time a little unsure of themselves — I like watching them gain confidence and go through the metamorphosis through which every conversation becomes a potential contract, every road hazard a tort hypothetical, every apartment a definable bundle of property rights. And of course they can’t do this on their own; they must do it with their classmates, whose diversity of background helps them apply the rules to realities and situations that they would not have otherwise considered.”
Classic classes weed out the pretenders:
Required courses are often the ones students will remember the rest of their lives
Thursday, September 1, 2005
By Tom Gantert , Ann Arbor News
2005, The Ann Arbor News. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.
They are the legendary required classes that are often starter classes in certain majors and disciplines at the University of Michigan.
They're the courses shared by a large percentage of students, year after year, for decades in many cases, building a collective experience that leaves lasting impressions on students long after they've graduated.
For business majors and engineering students, it's Math 115, Calculus, which quickly weeds out the math pretenders.
For biology majors, it's the huge lecture hall experience of Chem 124.
For law students, it's Contracts, the foundation of the law school experience.
For honor students, Great Books 191 is a classic approach to the classics.
These commonly shared classes are the first taste of a big-time university for some, and the first step into a profession for others.
Starting the paper chase
"Contracts at 8 (a.m.),'' said Jessup Pyun, who graduated from law school in 2004. "It was my first experience in law school.''
And it was an experience that came complete with Professor J.J. White, who has taught Contracts at the law school since 1964. His books are routinely cited in court decisions.
White, his students say, has the look of a drill sergeant. That's not far off. He was a flight instructor in the Air Force before teaching. More than once he's warned first-time students about anxiety in their first days in law school. He compared them to his student pilots learning to fly a jet for the first time.
"Half the time, they would vomit on the first flight,'' White will tell them. "That is real anxiety. Way more anxiety than in a class of 100. I can only pick on you one at a time.''
White says he doesn't lecture. "At least, not intentionally,'' he said.
Instead, he uses a seating chart to call on students randomly. It can make for some uncomfortable students.
"Everyone thinks that first day, 'Please don't call on me,''' said Amethyst Smith, who is starting her second year at U-M law school. "But you always get called on. The first time you are called on, it is hard to keep your mind working. You are so nervous.''
White takes more than a passing interest in his students.
He knows some of the students feel anonymous. So he tries his best to learn something about them.
Pyun learned that one day when he was drifting off and heard White ask him to answer a question.
"What would David Hume say about this situation?'' White asked Pyun.
Pyun was floored. Hume was a 1700s Scottish philosopher and historian.
Pyun knew that. He doubted any of his classmates would know.
When writing his letter for admission to law school, Pyun had included much about Hume. That's the first thing that hit Pyun when White asked him the questions.
"I thought, 'He's read my personal statement and he's memorized part of it.' I was kind of flattered he would take the time to do that kind of research,'' Pyun said. "My classmates had no idea who David Hume was. I appreciated it on a deeper level.''
Flattered or not, there was still a question pending with his classmates wondering what was going on. "I think I gave a jumbled response,'' he said.
White says he has a standard response to his students who offer "wishy-washy'' answers to questions demanding resolution. He tells a story of two men lost in a hot-air balloon. They manage to get the balloon close enough to the ground to ask a pedestrian where they are. The pedestrian tells one of the men they are over the north of France at a heading of 270 degrees longitude. As the balloon ascends again, one man in the balloon turns to the other and asks who the pedestrian was.
"The guy was a lawyer,'' the other man says. "Everything he said was right and nothing was helpful.''
Great Books, great class
Professor H.D. Cameron first taught Great Books 191 in the 1960s. While law professor White says he throws out his notes every year to start anew, Cameron says his "system is honed to a fine edge by now.'' He lectures twice a week for the Great Books class.
The books he focuses on are as you might expect: Homer's "Iliad'' and "Odyssey.''
A hint for teacher's pets: Cameron says his best students favor "History of the Peloponnesian War'' by Thucydides. Written in 400 B.C., it's a factually based documentation of a war between Sparta and Athens. There is no mention of gods. The work ends in mid-sentence, with some scholars believing the author died before it was finished.
"He's the hardest author,'' Cameron said. "The best students love it.''
And the book and author are also the hardest to spell for Cameron. Despite having taught the class continuously since 1983, he admits to having to write down both to make sure he's spelling them correctly.
He says the classics shouldn't be drudgery. "What I try to get across in the first day is that this is going to be enormous fun,'' Cameron said.
Hana Johnson, a history major who graduated in 2003, admits that literature is not her favorite subject, but she was impressed by Cameron's enthusiasm. "He was always very passionate about what he was talking about,'' she recalled.
She remembers one episode where Cameron, whom she said looks very much like one would expect a classical books professor to look, used a prop to get his point across. "He sat on a piano, stuck his legs up in front of him and had his arms straight up in the air,'' she said. "I had no idea what the point was.'' But she laughed. As did the entire class. And Cameron's early-semester promise had come true: the students were having fun. And with Greek literature, to boot.
Johnson said Great Books 191 had an impact that lasted much longer than the one semester she was enrolled in it.
"As an honor student, it was a chance to meet students you'd be seeing a lot of,'' she said. "My closest group of friends in college, we all took Great Books together. That was something we could talk about, laugh about and complain about, at times.''
Big classes, tough classes
For some students, the required classes are an eye-opener to the college experience at a major university.
Jenna Johnson, who graduated last spring with degrees in English and biology, went to Birmingham Seaholm High School. It has about 1,050 students. Johnson remembers her biggest class being about 70 students. And that was because two grades were combined for the day.
When she arrived to the Chem 124 lecture, there were 350 other students waiting. "I felt anonymous,'' Johnson said.
"I took it because it was the first in the long line of pre-med classes I wanted to take,'' Johnson said. "I really liked it. I studied really hard. A lot of it was new material.''
She was planning on applying to medical school, but decided against it. She said the class had an impact.
Not all required classes are taught by experienced professors.
Jason Mironov, who graduated last spring, remembers his freshman year when he was on his way to Math 115, Calculus 1. He entered the elevator and turned to another student he assumed was a classmate.
"I hope this instructor isn't too hard,'' Mironov said.
The student laughed.
The two entered the lecture hall together. Mironov went to find a seat. The other young man, a graduate student, went behind the lectern to teach the class.
Mironov, who now works for a Wall Street financial firm, called Math 115 a "weeder class.''
"It's to determine if you can make it in business school. It is your first tangible grade toward business. Calc 115 made me realize that college wasn't going to be a walk in the park.''