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The Wright Stuff

Richard Primus snags fourth L. Hart Wright teaching award

June 14, 2011
Contact: John Masson, 734.647.7352,

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—For the fourth time since 2004, Michigan Law Prof. Richard Primus has captured the coveted L. Hart Wright Teaching Award.

Primus said he finds the award especially meaningful, considering that it's voted on by the very students he tries to push to their intellectual limits.

"Some profs think that what students want is to be spoon-fed," Primus said. "I think that's wrong. I think most of our students are smart enough to understand that they will profit most from having to work hard, so long as the work is well constructed, and has a point, and so long as they see that the teacher is working hard, too."

Primus, a constitutional law scholar who joined Michigan Law in 2001, said research and publication are key activities for faculty members at top-ranked schools like Michigan, but he is "also confident that for most law professors, most of the time, the most important thing we do is teach JD students."

With that in mind, he added, it makes perfect sense to lavish time and attention on making his students' classroom experience as valuable as possible.

The L. Hart Wright Award, managed by the Law School Student Senate, is named after the legendary Michigan Law professor who managed to be both hugely influential in the field of tax law and deeply revered by generations of law students. This year, more than 400 students cast ballots.

The prize will be presented to Primus at a Blue Jean Lecture in the fall. Until then, he plans to continue the work of research and writing—as well as the work of preparing another tough semester of classroom work for his future students.

"Nothing makes me happier as a law prof," Primus said, "than when a student tells me that my class made them think harder and more carefully than they were accustomed to doing before."

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