By Lori AthertonAugust 9, 2017
Eve Brensike Primus, ’01, knows she has a reputation for being a tough professor. It’s her love of the law and of teaching that pushes her to demand excellence from her students. That academic rigor has garnered Primus the 2017 L. Hart Wright Award for Teaching Excellence.
“I’m touched that students selected me to receive this award,” Primus said. “It shows they understand that I truly do care about teaching, and they understand why I expect so much of them.”
Those expectations, Primus said, stem from a desire to see her students excel at Michigan Law and beyond. “My goal in each class is to push students to be the excellent lawyers that I know they can be, and to give them the necessary skills to do whatever they want with their legal degrees. I want students to do the reading and come to class ready to think, play with the doctrine, and learn critical analysis skills. Then they can go out and shape the law.”
It’s particularly rewarding for Primus when she sees students grasp the concepts she presents in class. “I love those a-ha moments when I’m engaged in a dialogue with a student, and I can see the light bulb go off,” said Primus, who joined the Michigan Law faculty in 2005 and teaches Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, Evidence, and Habeas Corpus. “I realize that I’ve helped the student learn something new, and that I’ve made a difference.”
Primus’s students aren’t shy about expressing admiration for their teacher and how she’s made an impact on them. “She is one of the most brilliant, kind, and engaging professors I have ever had,” said 3L Shirin Makhkamova. Rachel Barr, another 3L, agreed, and noted that “despite Criminal Procedure being a class of nearly 90 students, Professor Primus knew everyone’s name, facilitated interesting and meaningful class discussions, and was always willing to answer questions outside of class.”
Nili Blanck, a 2L, cited Primus’s ability to “teach by example” as one of the reasons she deserves the L. Hart Wright Award. “Every class, students can see that Professor Primus gives us her all,” Blanck said. “Her attention cannot be broken, her wit is cunning, and her enthusiasm is contagious. She imbues her students with a zeal to be better law students and better people.”
“Professor Primus’s understanding of and passion for the subject is obvious,” added 3L Jackie Stolzenberg. “She explains things clearly, and responds effectively to student questions. She is a master of the Socratic method. She expected a lot from us, but that expectation motivated me to work hard so I wouldn’t disappoint her. I am ecstatic that Professor Primus won the L. Hart Teaching Award this year. It is an honor she unquestionably has earned.”
The L. Hart Wright Award is named after the beloved Michigan Law professor who was renowned in the field of tax law. The student-nominated award is presented annually to a faculty member by the Law School Student Senate (LSSS). Primus will receive the award at the LSSS's faculty wine and cheese reception this fall.
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