Wednesday, May 17, 2017
Louis should be excited because he is featured here twice in two weeks (once for his scholarship here and now)! I first met Louis at one of the conferences I attended early on in my ASP career. He led a discussion surrounding an article he had written and at the time, was seeking feedback. The discussion included comments and questions about the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). I also had an opportunity to work with Louis briefly during my tenure as chair of the programming committee for the Academic Support Section of the Association of American Law Schools (AALS). Louis was reliable, kind, and very helpful. I seem to always remember positive words and feedback sent in my direction from anyone far and near, and Louis is one of those whose feedback was very kind and therefore remembered (Goldie Pritchard).
Q: Please indicate your full name, title and institution of employment.
Assistant Dean and Professor of Academic Support
Florida International University College of Law
Q: Please briefly describe your ASP work including length of time associated with it and what initially stimulated your interest.
I’ve been in the academic support field for about ten years, starting at New England Law | Boston for seven years and a bit over three years here at FIU Law. I started teaching in the legal writing field and found myself wanting to do more for students who underperformed. It frustrated me that many of these students weren’t struggling due to a lack of diligence or intelligence but because they had less training in critical thinking or effective learning skills. Because that lack of training seemed correlated with socio-economic status, I was particularly motivated to do what I could to help level the playing field to promote students’ success.
Q: Which aspect(s) of ASP work do you enjoy the most? What would you consider your greatest challenge thus far and how have you overcome the challenge?
Anyone who has seen me teach knows that I act like a fool in the classroom. I try to bring an energy that connotes genuine enthusiasm for the material. (This isn’t in any way fabricated; I’m a complete law nerd. If they sold trading cards of SCOTUS justices, I’d be one of those people who gets the whole set, including COA, etc.)
I try to keep things fairly light in the classroom and then all of a sudden get really intense, pushing the students to do more and give better answers. Because the levity precedes the intensity, students seem more comfortable when I push them harder – they know it’s coming from the right place.
Also, personally and professionally, I get immense joy from fostering students’ success. My favorite time of year is when grades come out and I hear from my students who got through the first year despite incredible odds. It’s always an awkward moment for my colleagues in my corridor when I start bellowing the chorus of “We Are the Champions” at the top of my lungs because I heard that a student made it above a 2.00 or passed the bar. But, because being in ASP means being half professor, half coach, we have the best of both worlds and, IMHO (In My Humble Opinion), the best job in the legal academy.
Q: What do you want your professional legacy to be?
That I made it through my whole career without anyone noticing that I’m a completely unqualified rube. (Ooops).
Q: What motivational advice or encouragement would you offer to new and/or mid-career ASPers or law students?
IMHO (In My Humble Opinion), one can serve students best by maintaining a balance between being emotionally invested in their success while at the same time remaining objective. Having a professor demonstrate a genuine personal investment in a student’s success can actually have a far more powerful impact on that student than I ever realized. On the other hand, for some students the best advice might be an austere and somewhat shocking message that is both difficult to give and difficult to receive. Academic support professors need to be empowered to give both types of advice based upon the needs of the particular student. If a law school does not provide that sort of empowerment, the academic support will be less effective.
Q: Is there anything else you deem necessary to share (quote, encouragement, inspiration, visual, etc.…)?