Thursday, June 6, 2024

Congrats AASE Award Winners!!

Congrats to these amazing ASPers who won AASE awards this year, including our very own Liz Stillman.


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AASE Impact Award- this award is given to someone who dedicates their time (we know that as ASP/Bar Studies professionals, we wear a lot of hats, and it takes time, focus, dedication, and even sacrifice to support AASE) and energy to AASE and our amazing profession. We’ve always been an important part of every law school, and now is our time to shine as skills becomes embedded in every part of legal education. This award is not limited to members who have been here for a long time either. It’s for anyone and everyone making a real difference in ASP/Bar Studies.

This year’s AASE Impact Award goes to Elizabeth Stillman. Liz Stillman is an associate professor in Suffolk University Law School’s Academic Support Program. She also teaches in the Political Science and Legal Studies Department for the Suffolk University College of Arts and Sciences as well as in the accelerated and LL.M. programs at the Law School. She received her BA from Tufts University, and her JD from Northeastern University. Liz was previously an Assistant Corporation Counsel for the City of New York where she prosecuted juvenile delinquency cases in Queens and Manhattan Family Courts. She is a Suffolk University Ambassador for Inclusion and certified in English as a Method of Instruction (EMI). Liz is also a past president of the New England Consortium of Academic Support Professionals.

Liz receives this award in recognition of her decades of dedicated support of students and of the ASP community. She is not afraid to speak out in support of equity for ASP faculty and staff; she is generous with her time on national committees; and she is always there for anyone who needs support, guidance, or encouragement as they navigate the ASP field. Liz has a particular gift for working with neuro-diverse students and those who require accommodations. She embodies the humor, compassion, warmth, intelligence, dedication, and passion that make the academic support field a great place to work. Liz is also a frequent blogger on the Law School Academic Support Blog. Thank you for your continued service, energy, and steadfast commitment to this incredibly important pillar of legal education, Liz! You are always an inspiration!



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  • AASE Outstanding Scholar Award- this award is for an outstanding scholar whose work is promoting our field. We talk a lot about equity and increasing our status in the legal academy, and scholarship is one of the ways we can accomplish this goal. Scholarship is the currency recognized across the academy, and it is something AASE is working hard to promote and encourage. We want to celebrate our community’s scholarly successes!

This year’s AASE Outstanding Scholar Award goes to Nachman Gutowski. Nachman Gutowski is an Assistant Professor-in-Residence and Director of Academic Success Program for the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, William S. Boyd School of Law. He received his JD from the University of Miami School of Law, and his MM from the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami.  Prior to joining the William S. Boyd School of Law, he served as Director of Accreditation and Associate Professor of Academic Success and Bar Preparation at St. Thomas University, Benjamin L. Crump College of Law. He previously spent 8 years in the legal education-focused, corporate, national bar review industry supporting law schools from Puerto Rico through the southeast United States.

Nachman’s scholarly efforts, spanning critical analyses of discriminatory practices in legal licensure to the ethical considerations of artificial intelligence in legal education, have been driven by a commitment to challenge existing paradigms and advocate for systemic changes that enhance inclusivity and adaptability within legal education. His writing shows his dedication to the principles and mission that AASE champions, and focus on the pressing challenges and opportunities in legal education today. Congratulations, Nachman!

A selection of his scholarly works includes:

  • NextGen Licensure & Accreditation, 22 U.N.H. L. Rev. 2 (Forthcoming 2024): This article explores the evolving landscape of legal licensure and accreditation, emphasizing the need for adaptability in standards that reflect contemporary legal practices.
  • Navigating the AI Revolution: Challenges and Opportunities in Legal Practice and Education, Virginia Lawyers Weekly & Michigan Lawyers Weekly (2024): Addresses the seismic shifts AI technologies are creating in legal practice and education, offering insights into effective adaptation strategies.
  • STOP THE COUNT; The Historically Discriminatory Nature of the Bar Exam Requires Adjustments in How Bar Passage Rates are Reported, If at All, 21 SEATTLE J. SOC. JUST. 589 (2023): This article has been downloaded from the Seattle University repository nearly 900 times in the less than 1 year since its publication. It covers many compelling arguments for reevaluating the reporting schemes nationally for the bar exam results, particularly focused on acknowledging and responding as a way to mitigate historical inequalities.
  • How Are Bar Exam Results Reported? Research Summary; Raising the Bar (2023) and A National Guide (2023): Two pieces offering comprehensive insights into the reporting of bar exam results, highlighting variability and its implications for equity. The long-labored process of identifying, labeling, and directing where, how, and the impact of how each jurisdiction reports bar results is organized in a simple and easy-to-use format, made available for free to everyone.
  • AI in Legal Education: Drafting Policies for Balancing Innovation and Integrity (2023): Provides guidelines for integrating AI into legal education in ways that promote ethical use and innovation.




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  • AASE Outstanding Debut in ASP/Bar Studies Award- this award is for our newest members and colleagues in the academic success world. Those who are just getting their feet wet and doing amazing things with their students, faculty, and law school. We want to celebrate them and welcome them into AASE and our inclusive and supportive community.

This year’s AASE Outstanding Debut in ASP/Bar Studies Award goes to Maria Florencia Cornu Laport. M. Florencia Cornu Laport is the Director and Associate Professor of Academic Success and Bar Preparation at the St. Thomas University College of Law in Miami Gardens, FL. She received her JD first from the University of the Republic, Uruguay, and a U.S. JD at the St. Thomas University School of Law where she also received her LLM. Prior to joining the ASP world, Florencia worked as an attorney in Uruguay, also serving as a law clerk to the late Justice Hipolito Rodriguez Caorsi at the Supreme Court of Justice.

At St. Thomas University, she found the ideal environment to develop her biggest passions: law education as a mechanism of personal development for the students, an opportunity to provide inspiring and transformative experiences for the students; and the legal profession conceived as a tool to protect the vulnerable, to serve the underserved, and to work for social justice.

Florencia has stormed onto the ASP scene and was elected to be a part of the Executive Committee of the Academic Support Section of the American Association of Law Schools (AALS), where she will be joining professors and administrators from across the country aligned in the interest of improving academic support and bar preparation offerings for future lawyers. She has been incredibly active in AASE and her energy and enthusiasm for the field is contagious. We look forward to all of her future contributions!

June 6, 2024 in Academic Support Spotlight | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, April 5, 2024

AASE Board Nominations

  The AASE Executive Board is excited to announce that it is time to begin receiving nominations for both our elected board positions as well as for our annual awards! The deadline for both is May 1, 2024.  

   Voting for the Executive Board positions will be conducted at our 2024 Annual Meeting to be held in gorgeous Boise, Idaho at the University of Idaho College of Law from May 20-23.  (If you haven’t registered yet, here’s a helpful link: The first day will be devoted to a pre-conference Scholarship Workshop that you won’t want to miss!

   At our Business Meeting, during the conference, we will announce the award winners as well as introduce and welcome our new Executive Board members. So, stay tuned for more details and be sure to make plans to be at that meeting. We will also announce our upcoming host schools and conference sites.

   As always, feel free to reach out to myself or any member of the Executive Board for further details. We can’t wait to celebrate our ASP/Bar Studies stars and welcome our new Board. We have a lot of great things planned and want you to be a part of it all!

April 5, 2024 in Academic Support Spotlight | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, March 28, 2024

ASP Spotlight: Laurie Zimet

There are individuals who lay the foundation for new fields or areas of expertise, but unfortunately, the innovators don't always get credit the many years later when new fields are mainstream.  Laurie Zimet was/is one of those innovators for ASP, and UC Law San Francisco recently did a great job briefly recounting the impact she had over the past 40 years of service to law students.  If you ever saw one of her presentations, you would agree with Dean Morris Ratner's statement that "Her energy and enthusiasm for teaching and her care for students are defining features of her impactful professional life."  You can read the spotlight here

I learned from Laurie through many presentations over the years.  I hope schools continue to spotlight innovators in our field the same way we do other areas.  Great job Laurie!

(Steven Foster)

March 28, 2024 in Academic Support Spotlight | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, January 15, 2023

Honoring Legendary and Impactful Leaders

Earlier this month at the 2023 Annual Meeting of the Association of American Law Schools (“AALS”), the Section on Academic Support held its yearly business meeting to elect a new slate of officers and to confer Section awards. Two of our most trailblazing and impactful leaders fittingly received recognition that was long overdue: Kris Franklin and Jamie Kleppetsch. Award

Kris Franklin, Wallace Stevens Professor of Law at New York Law School, received the Legacy in Leadership Award. Kris is an academic innovator who has generously and freely shared her pedagogical talent with the ASP community for decades. Kris has been a constant resource for teaching ideas, and she has advanced the field of academic support with her wealth of multidisciplinary scholarly publications. Not content to rest on her own laurels, Kris continues to elevate those who are junior academic support faculty members. She tirelessly encourages scholarly productivity by hosting weekly writing sessions for new ASP scholars. To know ASP is to know Kris Franklin. She is a scholar, an advocate, a friend, and a cherished mentor to us all.

Jamie Kleppetsch, Director of Bar Passage at DePaul College of Law, received the Impact Award. In a span of ten years, Jamie has held every single elected and appointed leadership position in organized academic support, including President of the Association of Academic Support Educators (“AASE”), Chair of the AALS Section on Academic Support, and Chair of the AASE Bar Advocacy Committee to name a few. Most notably, Jamie has used her leadership roles to forge meaningful partnerships with other academic and non-profit organizations. Jamie’s leadership has enhanced the voice of ASP in cross-disciplinary scholarship and bar administration policy.

In addition to recognizing our accomplished and deserving award winners, I want to also acknowledge the skilled leadership of outgoing Section Chair Kirsha Trychta, Teaching Associate Professor at West Virginia College of Law. Kirsha, the Section is better for your leadership and programming insights, and I will be texting you. With the conclusion of Kirsha’s term of service, we elected new officers. We welcome the newly installed officers and the new and returning at large members to the Section Board:

Marsha Griggs, Chair

Susan Landrum, Chair-elect

Titichia Jackson, Secretary

Petina Benigno, Treasurer

Sarah Garrison, at large

Nachman Gutowski, at large

Megan Davis, at large

Sarira Sadeghi, at large

Congratulations to our deserving award winners and we look forward to a great year ahead!

(Marsha Griggs)

January 15, 2023 in Academic Support Spotlight | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, January 13, 2023

Academic Support at AALS - Advising on the NextGen Bar Exam!!!

The AALS Section on Academic Support kicked off 2023 with a bang! They hosted a phenomenal panel at AALS on Friday, January 6th! The panel was called “Proactive Planning Across the Curriculum for the NextGen Bar Exam “and panelists were:

*Dustin Benham, Charles P. Bubany Endowed Professor of Law, Texas Tech University School of Law

*Brian Gallini, Dean, Willamette University College of Law

*Antonia Miceli, Professor and Director of Academic Support and Bar Exam Success, Saint Louis University School of Law 323384487_500752215276758_1556989816174541845_n

*Moderator Kirsha Trychta, Teaching Professor and Director of the Academic Excellence Center, West Virginia University School of Law

It was a great discussion, and so well attended! I want to try my best to highlight some key points and do justice to all of the amazing points the speakers made.


First, the main source of anxiety for many in the academy, but especially those that deal with Academic Support, is the timing of the NextGen Bar Exam. The NCBE, during AALS, has confirmed that it will be rolled out in 2026, with 100% certainty - that is from their mouth. However, jurisdictions need to adopt the NextGen bar, and as of yet, we haven’t had any jurisdictions announce whether they are adopting it, and if so, when. In addition, the NCBE will still be supporting the UBE for states that want it, for at least 3 years, potentially more. This means that anyone that works with students on the bar exam is struggling to figure out the NextGen, while still prepping for the UBE. Given the significant differences between the two exams, this is a monumental task.  It has also been brought up that, like with so many things, the bulk of this work falls onto the shoulders of academic support professionals – shoulders that are already weighted down.

Toni also brought up the fact that it seems Supreme Courts don’t always understand law school timing, since it’s not what they are working in day in and day out. Specifically, if you are at a school with a part time program, the students that will be taking the 2026 exam are already admitted. Their first year is complete, and we are at the point where it’s incredibly difficult to alter their 2nd year. So now bar support educators have to be creative on the back end as to how to integrate next gen bar skills, specifically experiential learning and skills, into the curriculum, and potentially while also running classes for the UBE.  Toni also mentioned that this is an opportunity to advocate with the state Supreme Courts and bar examiners. They don’t understand the challenges that schools are facing, so we need to educate them.

Dustin added that if jurisdictions aren’t clear on timing we still need to incorporate skills into doctrinal classes. He stressed that it’s what we should be doing anyway, and that we can and SHOULD do that in doctrinal classes, regardless of whether there is a next gen bar or when it’s rolled out. He said “we are preparing them for the next gen bar, current bar, and to practice if we incorporate skills into doctrinal classes.” He continued on to say that  “I’m teaching students to practice law, not pass the bar, but to practice, they need to pass the bar, so I try to teach both, and both can be taught.”

Convos with Faculty

Another big topic, and concern, with the NextGen Bar Exam is how do we have  conversations with faculty that are less open to change? Toni suggested that it’s important to have  early conversations, but faculty like examples, and we don’t have them yet. This can lead to frustrations for everyone. She also added that we really need leadership from the top down, for the Deans to incentivize. Typically research is a priority for faculty,  so deans need to lead that change, and prioritize the changes made to curriculum, potentially shifting the use of research grants.

Brian added that in reality the bigger picture is about faculty hiring. Specifically, how we think about faculty policies and equity, as well as tenure. Brian has offered faculty innovation 325119271_623818199744270_9185820492119431869_n grants at his school. These are designed to help, and encourage, faculty to create courses or change a course. He says that the real way to break down silos is to change the way we think about tenure, and now is the time to have that conversation.  This was definitely a theme of the panel, and it seems all are in agreement that we must change the way we think about not only tenure, but evaluating faculty and training faculty. Toni commented that there must be training on teaching, and Dustin specifically commented that we “must hire those capable of practicing law.” Krisha added that her school had done a teaching review , so they are not just relying on student evaluations. The teaching review includes a review of the syllabis, classroom observation, student evaluations and finally a “teaching agenda.”

324717095_1527854961049877_3453227038856975889_nDustin added that we also need to educate faculty, especially junior faculty, regarding textbook selection. Specifically because a traditional casebook makes it difficult to teach a problem-based curriculum, which can be the best way to incorporate skills into a doctrinal class. He says that there are textbooks out there that make this easier, but we need to incentivize faculty to change their syllabus and educate new faculty about textbook options.  Essentially book selection is key because it drives the format of the course.

Toni also stressed the importance of getting rid of silos between educators; academic support, clinicians, legal writing, and doctrine. We have to “de-silo”, and recognize that ASP and clinics don’t get research grants and stipends. Also, the work HAS to be collaborative, and it  HAS to be the dean incentivizing the change.

Kirsha mentioned that she never asks the faculty to DO anything, she merely shares information. and that she’s been intentional about what she shares and present depending on who is coming. In short, it’s an “ask” without asking, and the faculty response has been great. 322765203_574320757405240_1794210480919348856_n

Kris Franklin, and audience member, reminded everyone that “no one is a prophet in their own land, no one is listened to by their own faculty, that’s why we bring in each other” – and we need to remind the faculty that academic support, skills faculty and clinicians are experts in student learning. 

To add to this, Brian mentioned that he has launched a faculty and development series as a low stakes discussion about teaching, and bringing in conversations about improving teaching. Toni agreed that we have these existing structures, for workshopping research, so we need to flip that to workshop teaching exercises.

Concrete Takeaways

Of course, the panelists offered concrete takeaways that could offer change.  Dustin suggested that faculty integrate small exercises, and added that evidence is a great way to do this. He teaches evidence by having students act as attorneys and judge, and requests that they argue whether evidence should come in or not, as if it was a courtroom. He can get through 10-15 pieces of evidence a class, and finds that this increases engagement while teaching skills.

Dustin does something similar while teaching professional responsibility, and has students write client letters. He also has them flip their position frequently, to stay nimble, and gives them a “sample” client letter to keep for practice. Finally, he suggests embracing technology, and embracing using smart phones. He argues that students are going to use them, or think about them, no matter what, so we might as well embrace it and use it!

Brian suggests advocating with bar examiners, faculty policies and hiring, and incentivizing faculty.

Toni reminds those that are “Asp-ish” to set firm boundaries with faculty. She says that she is already seeing the “turning of the heads to ASP as “how do we do this” – and while it’s nice when we are recognized as experts, we need to provide resources without doing the work for them. She suggests hat struggling students often struggle because of the case method. They need a connection to reality, and work better with problem sets and simulations. So, we can share materials with faculty, but “be a resource without providing the answer.”  

Kirsha also mentioned that Kirsha – can create 1-2 hypos, exercises, and use them across the board on 1L classes, let students see how this plays out in reality- how the same problem can play out in different ways.

Finally, in true ASP-ish fashion, Kirsha left us with her “Takeaway Agenda” for the NextGen Bar:

  1. Begin an education campaign – faculty/boards
  2. Remain positive – this is an opportunity, be that energy
  3. This can be anchored outside the bar – assessment and ABA compliance, for example – the goal is to improve student outcomes
  4. Bring in outsiders

Personally, I feel, as usual with academic support, the panel gave the audience concrete action items, both “easy” and more long term, as well as thoughtful considerations.  I would like to add that our very own Cassie Christopher got a shout out from Dustin on her scholarship, which is fantastic.

The central theme, which seems to be a leading theme throughout academic support lately (and for good reason) is breaking down silos to rethink tenue, evaluation, and status. This not only benefits professionals, but students as well. And as Toni reminds us, we need to have conversations about compensating those that prepare students for multiple different bars, because that can be incredibly challenging.

-Melissa A. Hale

As a quick update, Sophie Martin from the NCBE reached out and asked for this clarification: : In addition, the NCBE will still be supporting the UBE for states that want it, for at least 3 administrations

January 13, 2023 in Academic Support Spotlight | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 9, 2023

Welcome Lisa DeLaTorre

LDeLaTorreHope everyone had a good holiday break.  Please welcome our new Contributing Editor Lisa DeLaTorre.  She will post her thoughts on Thursdays.
Lisa is the Associate Director of Academic Success and Bar Readiness at the Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University. She is a co-teacher of the 3L MPT writing course, and each bar exam cycle coaches bar takers to success on the exam, with particular focus on wellbeing during bar study.
Previously, Lisa was in student affairs administration at Rice University, where she sat on the crisis assessment team and was part of the broader behavior and behavioral health team. Before that Lisa was a litigator for seven years, focusing on insurance defense.
Lisa received her J.D. from the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law. She is a mother of three, including identical twins who were born on the last day of spring break of her 3L year.

January 9, 2023 in About This Blog, Academic Support Spotlight | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, December 18, 2022

Thank You

It is with both gratitude and disappointment that I announce Scott Johns won't be posting for us regularly starting in the spring.  He is tackling new adventures, but you may see him pop in with guest posts when available.  While disappointed he won't be posting, I want to thank him for his tenure on the blog.  He started as a Contributing Editor in 2016.  I was looking for the date he started, and was amazed at the numerous Top Ten Blog Posts of the Week from Texas Law Today he received.  I lost count after 10.  I loved reading his unique insights over the years, and am extremely glad he was a contributing editor when I became an editor.  He consistently provided insight and bar exam advocacy through extremely difficult times the last few years.  I will miss reading the posts each week, but I can't wait to hear about the semester next year at AASE.  Thank you Scott for your years of service.

(Steven Foster)

December 18, 2022 in Academic Support Spotlight | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Thank You, And . . .

I was honored and surprised and thrilled to find out that I was the recipient of the 2022 Trailblazer Award. I truly feel that I have the best job in the world, and part of that is because I get to be a member of the broader academic support community.

While I take pride in and ownership of my accomplishments, it also is not lost on me that they would be much more difficult for many other academic support professionals to achieve because of the inconsistency and inequity among how we are treated at our schools. I wanted to highlight the ways in which my institution – Suffolk University Law School (SULS) – has supported me, in the hopes it will encourage other law schools to do the same.

  1. Financial and logistical support for research and writing: SULS provides summer funding for professors who wish to take on scholarly projects, and they extend this funding to academic support professors. I’ve written four articles and have received funding for two of those. The funding is both a financial help, as well as – importantly - an incentive and a vote of confidence. I wasn’t sure that I would ever write an article, but getting funding made me feel like the school believed I could. In addition to the funding, the law school has an active and robust Scholarship Committee and does not require me to teach a full course load over the summer.
  1. Faculty status: I'm faculty and therefore involved in faculty committees and meetings, which allows me to form relationships with other faculty, get ideas, exchange ideas, and feel more invested in the school.[1]
  1. Conference funding: SULS provides me with conference funding, which allows me to meet other academic support colleagues, build community, and gain skills.
  1. Long-term contracts: Those of us in the Academic Support Program have 1-, 3- and 5-year contracts, which allow us greater stability than others who face yearly renewal and review.
  1. Parental leave: I received maternity leave (it is sad that this even needs to be said, yet it does).
  1. A significant academic support program: There are four full-time academic support professors at Suffolk (names familiar to and beloved by anyone working in the field: Herb Ramy, Liz Stillman, Phil Kaplan, and Jen Ciarimboli). This is not only crucial because we have a very large student body, but also benefits me immensely because I have generous, wise, and hardworking colleagues with whom to exchange ideas and resources.
  1. Teaching opportunities: Finally, in recent years, SULS has allowed me to teach non-ASP classes like Professional Responsibility and Negotiation. Doing so has helped me gain experience and confidence, generated ideas for scholarship, provided me with additional pay, and helps students and faculty see that ASP professors are part of the broader curriculum.

Of course, we are not perfect at SULS. In short: I would love to have tenure. When I joined legal academia, tenure seemed primarily like a matter of ego to me. But now, I value it more. I’d like financial equity with my colleagues; to feel fully respected and valued; to have full academic freedom; and to be able to have a greater impact on my community through voting on matters of appointments and tenure.[2] Perhaps this award will be a step towards these goals.

And perhaps I am sharing too much, being too transparent. I’ve come to learn that a certain amount of gamesmanship is expected in academia. But I believe part of the success of many of us in academic support is our authenticity and transparency.

If you are a tenured faculty member or administrator reading this - thank you, and I hope this has given you some ideas.

If you are academic support staff or faculty, please feel free to reach out if I can be of support - I know how much you do for students, how unquantifiable the majority of it is, and I believe in and value you.


[1] I don’t mean at all to prioritize faculty over staff, and I think staff should receive these benefits as well. I intend instead to acknowledge what I gain from being a faculty member.

[2] Another note: my title is not Associate Professor, but Associate Professor of Academic Support, and many wonderful scholars have noted the way that titles perpetuate hierarchy. See, e.g., Rachel Lopez, Unentitled: The Power of Designation in the Legal Academy, 73 Rutgers L. Rev. 923 (2021).

(Sarah Schendel - Guest Post, Associate Professor of Academic Support, Suffolk Law School)

November 23, 2021 in Academic Support Spotlight, Encouragement & Inspiration | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Bar Exam Pass Rates and Academic Support

Maya Angelou wrote “we are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike.”  One of my favorite songs right now is Bleed the Same by Mandisa where she conveys a similar message.  I believe the message from both of them would apply to the current discussion surrounding factors impacting bar passage rates. 

Most of you are aware Rory Bahadur wrote a series of articles examining the relationship between certain factors and bar passage rates.  He specifically questions whether FIU’s emergence as the leader in Florida’s bar pass rate is significantly impacted by factors such as involuntary attrition, incoming transfers, and incoming credentials.  An oversimplification of his conclusion is that these factors have a major impact on Florida’s bar pass rankings.  His 3 articles are on SSRN here:

  1. Blinded by Science? A reexamination of the Bar Ninja and Silver Bullet Bar Program Cryptics
  2. Reexamining Relative Bar Performance as a Function of Non-Linearity, Heteroscedasticity, and a New Independent Variable
  3. Quantifying the Impact of Matriculant Credentials & Academic Attrition Rates on Bar Exam Success at Individual Schools

FIU’s academic support team, which includes one of our editors Louis Schulze, responded last weekend in a series of blog posts.  You can read the posts here:

  1. Does Academic Support Matter? A Brief, Preliminary Response to Blinded by Science and its Progeny
  2. Does Academic Support Matter? A Brief, Preliminary Response to Blinded by Science and its Progeny, Part 2

Louis’ response questions the statistical methods used in the previous articles and posits that FIU’s new Academic Support program made a statistically significant effect on bar passage rates.  Rory responded to the posts with a message on the ASP listsev/google group.  You should be able to access his message within that group. 

Rory and Louis are engaged in a relevant and important discussion for ASP.  I encourage everyone to read the articles and posts.  AccessLex also published a brief post addressing this topic and one of Rory’s articles.  The AccessLex authors state they are conducting  a couple projects that will provide even more insight.

The academic debate surrounding this topic is necessary, but we should also recognize the reason why the debate is important and sometimes personal.  While they disagree, both Rory and Louis are passionate about helping ASPers and students.  They both cite the lack of tenure for ASPers as a major concern.  They both argue for more resources for Academic Support.  Knowing them both, I truly believe they are trying to do what is best for both ASP and students.

As long as we are trying to figure out what helps students succeed, I do want this discussion to continue in an academic manner.  One of my major concerns is when schools/Deans evaluate whether ASPers are effective based primarily on bar pass rates.  Bar pass rates are an easy number to stamp on a department, almost treating bar pass numbers as wins and losses.  Media and other entities fuel that perception with articles about who had the highest bar pass rate in the state.  FIU’s success has brought national attention from the ABA journal and other legal news sources.  Deans around the country, especially ones in Florida, do specifically ask, “why isn’t [insert school] having the success of FIU?  Are our people doing their job correctly?”  Those outside ASP want to know, what is the secret sauce?

I also want the discussion to continue to demonstrate the impact ASP has on students.  Both Louis/Raul and Rory presented at regional and national ASP conferences about best practices in teaching.  Many of us agree that law school education and pedagogy needs improving.  Most of us agree that better teaching would improve student learning and that we should use scientifically proven methods to teach students.  We would also agree that improved student learning should have an impact on student success and bar performance.  I want to know what everyone else does, including Louis and Raul, to lead to improved student performance.  I especially want to read studies that quantify the impact of Academic Support and/or specific Academic Support programs.  Anecdotally, we know we have an impact on individual lives.  That impact matters, and should be measurable. 

Promoting ASP is important to the majority of us.  We need ongoing projects to measure what works and how we can all improve our students’ chances to pass the bar exam.  I know we are all striving to promote each other and help students.   I hope we can continue to do that.

(Steven Foster)

October 13, 2021 in Academic Support Spotlight, Bar Exam Issues, Program Evaluation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 1, 2021

ASP Exciting Works in Progress

This weekend, I attended the Central States Law Schools Association Scholarship Conference and ASP was well-represented. each speaker gave a talk highlighting their current works and sought feedback from the audience of faculty members. Here is just a sampling of the ASP presentations:

Cassie Christopher, Texas Tech School of Law
A Modern Diploma Privilege: A Path Rather Than a Gate

Michele Cooley, IU McKinney School of Law
But I’m Paying for This!: Student Consumerism and Its Impact on
Academic and Bar Support

Danielle Kocal, Pace Law School
A Professor's Guide to Teaching Gen Z

Blake Klinkner, Washburn School of Law
Is Discovery Becoming More Proportional? A Quantitative Assessment of
Discovery Orders Following the 2015 Proportionality Amendment to
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26

Leila Lawlor, Georgia State College of Law
Comparative Analysis of Graduation and Retention Rates

Chris Payne-Tsoupros
Curricular Tracking as a Denial of the “Free Appropriate Public Education”
Guaranteed to Students with Disabilities under the IDEA

I was delighted to see so many ASPers presenting Works in Progress, and I cannot wait to read and cite your published works! 

(Marsha Griggs)

October 1, 2021 in Academic Support Spotlight, Bar Exams, Guest Column, Meetings, News, Publishing, Writing | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

AASE Excellence Award Winners!

Congrats to the 2021 AASE Excellence Awards Winners!




May 26, 2021 in Academic Support Spotlight | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

AASE Awards!

AASE will once again provide awards to acknowledge excellence in the academic support field at the annual conference.  AASE developed the following recommendations for the Award Committee:

  • AASE should recognize members’ valuable contributions to law school academic support
  • AASE awards should have as an important objective the recognition of early and mid-career ASP professors
  • AASE Awards should be for specific work or in specific categories
  • The goal of AASE awards should be honoring contributions, not covering categories

The 2021 Awards committee, DeShun Harris, Twinette Johnson, and Antonia Miceli (chair), are soliciting nominations for contributions by individuals, or in appropriate circumstances, groups, in any of the following areas:

  1. Specific ideas or innovations—whether disseminated through academic writing, newsletters, conference presentations or over the listserv
  2. Specific services to the profession—e.g., advocacy with the NCBE, etc.
  3. Providing services to students
  4. Promoting diversity in  the profession and expanding access to the legal profession
  5. Mentoring and supporting others in ASP

Recognition may be given to more than one individual or group in any of these categories, and no category requires an award in any one year. We fully recognize just how many ASP educators have made heroic contributions to their students and to the profession. For these reasons, the Awards Committee will consider all nominations received, while keeping in mind there must be a reasonable limit for awards in any one year. Anyone in law school academic support may offer nominations, but current AASE Board members and AASE Awards Committee members are ineligible for recognition. Awards recipients must be members of AASE at the time an award is bestowed. 

Please send your nominations to Antonia Miceli by Monday, May 3, 2021.

Thank you,

AASE Awards Committee 2021


Also, remember to register for our conference! May 1st is the deadline if you want SWAG!

April 28, 2021 in Academic Support Spotlight | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Ensuring Equality in Legal Academia: Strategies to Dismantle Caste

Dear Academic Support Community,

I’m very pleased to announce, through the hard work of Kirsha Trychta and our programming committee, we are Co-producing a webinar with the Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research Section.

Co-produced by the Sections on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research and Academic Support

Date: Monday, May 10, 2021, 2:00 – 3:30 PM EST

Webinar Description:

Moderated by AALS Past President Darby Dickerson, this webinar will explore the caste system in legal education and will discuss potential solutions to the problem, with a particular focus on legal writing and academic support programs and professors. The moderator and a panel of law school Deans (comprised of former academic support and legal writing professors) will discuss how their schools and others can address this issue by mobilizing institutional support for skills professors, capturing the value-add that skills professors bring to legal education, opening up pathways to tenure, and addressing inequities, among other topics.

Learning Objectives:

  • Understand the problems with the academic caste system in legal education
  • Identify one concrete step professors can take to help develop their career or their program at their institution
  • Identify one concrete step law school administration can take to help develop the profession of skills professors

Click Here to register for the Webinar. *Registration is required


I hope to see many of you there, and feel free to spread the word!

Kind Regards

Melissa Hale

Chair, AALS Section on Academic Support

April 14, 2021 in Academic Support Spotlight | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

AASE Mentoring Event, April 23rd!

Come join us for a mentoring and networking event!

Here is the link to register,


Spring Forward_ Growing Connections


April 7, 2021 in Academic Support Spotlight | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, April 4, 2021

Complete the AASE Survey before Wednesday

Members of the Association of Academic Support Educators,

Please complete the AASE 2021 Short Survey before April 7th. A link was sent out on March 25th. Search your inbox for an email from AASE Membership. A reminder email should follow shortly. If you cannot locate the link, please email me or Goldie Pritchard.

The AASE Assessment Committee compiled this short nationwide survey to supplement the longer survey conducted by AASE in 2018. This short survey (maximum 20 minutes if all sections of the survey apply to your school) compiles the following:

  1. general data about each law school,
  2. information about the content of academic success programs and workshops,
  3. information about the content of bar prep programs and workshops, as well as,
  4. salary and status data.

To ensure that all teaching philosophies and that all job statuses and salaries are captured, the committee recommends that each non-clerical faculty and/or staff member within the academic success community complete the AASE 2021 Short Survey. Only the general data about each law school would be duplicative.

Further, since the AASE Assessment Committee exists to support and promote the assessment of programmatic effectiveness within AASE, the committee looks forward to compiling the data and presenting the results at the annual AASE Conference in May. If you have any questions regarding the survey, please contact me at [email protected] or board member, Goldie Pritchard at [email protected].

Special thanks to my fellow committee members, Matthew Carluzzo, Jeanna Hunter, Diane Kraft, Dyann Margolis, Chenay Weyble, and our board liaison, Jodi Wiredu, for their valuable insights and tireless energy developing this survey. This truly was a team effort and it was an honor to work with all of them!

Thank you for taking the time to complete the survey!

All the best,

Anne G. Johnson

AASE Assessment Committee Chair

Adjunct Professor of Law

Assistant Director of Academic Success

Mercer University School of Law

1021 Georgia Ave., Macon, GA 31207
T: 478-301-5030
[email protected]

April 4, 2021 in Academic Support Spotlight, Jobs - Descriptions & Announcements, Professionalism | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Best Practices for Online Bar Exam Administration

This week the Association for Academic Support Educators ("AASE") published Best Practices for Online Bar Exam Administration. AASE President, DeShun Harris, says that the best practices advocate for "procedures that ensure a fairer test for online test takers." The organization, established in 2014, urges state high courts and bar examiners to adopt these procedures.  The AASE Bar Advocacy Chair, Marsha Griggs, says "many of the best practices that we identified are things that bar examiners are already doing." Yolonda Sewell, Vice President for Diversity, adds that in addition to the great strides that bar examiners have made in deploying an online exam, we seek to make sure that the online administration does not unfairly disadvantage any bar applicant on the basis of skin tone, race, gender orientation, biophysical conditions, disability, need for test accommodations, or socio-economic resources. The Best Practices are aimed to level the playing field, both among applicants of varied backgrounds, and between the online and in-person versions of the exam."

One of several effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, was that bar examiners and bar applicants questioned the wisdom and feasibility of administering in-person exams in the traditional large group format. In response to COVID-19 limitations, the first online bar examinations in the United States were administered between July and October 2020. 

With but a few exceptions, the online exams were remotely proctored using artificial intelligence technology provided by a commercial vendor. As the exam dates approached many issues surfaced surrounding the use of facial recognition software and remote proctoring. One prominent issue was the number of complaints voiced from students who are people of color, asserting that the software did not recognize them. During and after the exam, other complaints sounded, ranging from data breaches, and poor technical support, to "flagging" hundreds or thousands of applicants for alleged cheating or "testing irregularities." At the extreme, some applicants reported having to sit in their own waste—as the exam instructions warned applicants about being out of view of the camera except during scheduled breaks—for fear of failing the exam. Additionally, there were reported issues with the technical delivery, submission, and scoring of the Multistate Performance Test,  and jurisdictional scoring errors that wrongly identified applicants who earned passing scores as exam failures, and falsely notifying others who failed the exam that they had passed.

AASE lauds the efforts of bar examiners at the local and national levels for their flexibility and willingness to provide options for remote administration. While we defer to the proven expertise of the test-makers in determining matters related to exam content, scoring, accommodations and character and fitness eligibility, we add our collective expertise in assessment delivery, performance application, and enhancement pedagogies for non-traditional test takers. We recognize that online bar exam delivery will outlive the pandemic and current circumstances. We also believe all who play roles in the process of creating and delivering a bar exam, want the exam to be fair and effective. In light of those dual goals, we think the time is ripe for adoption of additional policies that are more than performative gestures toward a more diverse legal profession.

(Association of Academic Support Educators)

February 25, 2021 in Academic Support Spotlight, Bar Exam Issues, Bar Exams, Current Affairs, Disability Matters, Diversity Issues, Exams - Studying, Exams - Theory, News | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

2021 AALS Section on Academic Support Award Winners

This past week many of us attended AALS virtually. In that spirit, I want to honor the award winners within our community. The AALS Section on Academic Support gave two awards this year, to two very deserving women.

Paula Manning, Visiting Professor, McGeorge School of Law, University of the Pacific

American Association of Law Schools Section on Academic Support Legacy in Leadership Award


At the 2021 meeting, the AALS section on academic support gave Paula Manning the Legac in Leadership Awards. Paula has been instrumental in building and nurturing the discipline of academic support.  Paula is a mentor and guiding force for ASP colleagues across the country. Whatever the topic, Paula has provided guidance and wisdom to countless ASPers on the evolution of their programs, their teaching, their scholarship, and their professional development. Her advice is always insightful and thoughtful, and countless ASPers now possess stronger programs, students, and professional opportunities because of Paula's contributions to our discipline. 

She worked with LSAC as a frequent organizer of early national and regional ASP conferences, and was a driving force behind the creation and evolution of AASE. Put simply, the field of Academic Support has grown stronger through Paula’s energy, passion, and insight.  

Paula's research and scholarship have had a profound impact on the field.  Paula co-authored with Michael Hunter Schwartz the most recent edition of the field-changing Expert Learning for Law Students, wrote a Torts casebook in the Carolina Academic Press “Context and Practice” series, and has produced numerous influential law review articles on such topics as how to inspire creative growth-minded lawyers, and how to give productive feedback to law students.  

Paula is a gifted educator. She has been innovative in her own teaching and has developed strong programs that maximized the potential of her students at numerous schools. Her devotion to students is unparalleled, as she offers feedback that fosters effective, precise, and positive reinforcement. Her scholarship has also influenced many educators by examining core premises of what it means to be an effective legal educator.  Paula's work has promoted progress in ASP and instilled change to law school classroom pedagogy.

Marsha Griggs, Associate Professor of Law and Director of Academic Support and Bar Passage, Washburn University School of Law

American Association of Law Schools Section on Academic Support Trailblazer Award

Marsha Griggs

At the 2021 meeting, the AALS section on Academic Support gave Marsha the Trailblazer Award. Marsha is a uniquely resonant voice in speaking to the current moment, and in leading the charge for change to professional licensure for the future. 

Marsha’s academic writing and conference presentations have moved bar prep into the mainstream of legal education. Most recently, she authored The Bar Exam and the COVID-19 Pandemic: The Need for Immediate Action, Ohio State Public Law Working Paper No. 537(2020), which provided a national voice for bar reform during the global pandemic. This article was followed immediately by another important work: An Epic Fail, which will be published in the upcoming edition of the Howard Law Journal. Additionally, she is a frequent contributor to the Law School Academic Support Blog and has presented at numerous national and regional conferences. She has also had her work cited by numerous national magazines and publications, including The National Jurist, the ABA Journal and Her expertise has been sought by boards of law examiners and supreme courts across the nation. Prior to her most recent scholarship, she has published in the SMU Law Review Forum, and the Texas A&M Law Review.

Marsha is a colleague who always looks for opportunities to lend a helping hand. She not only diligently serves her current students and recent graduates at her law school, but assists law graduates across the entire country who seek out her guidance and input on the challenges ahead for alternative paths to licensure and how to improve access, opportunity and diversity in the legal profession.

January 13, 2021 in Academic Support Spotlight | Permalink | Comments (1)

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Where Does ASP Fit In?

Raising some up does not diminish the work of others. Instead, it improves the whole of legal education. – Darby Dickerson

I am encouraged by the words of AALS President, Darby Dickerson, who calls out the caste system in law schools and advocates for its abolition. The caste system is an unnatural stratification that unnecessarily subdivides the legal academy in a manner that is contrary to the goals and best practices of quality legal education. Yet it prevails.

Dickerson acknowledges that there is much work to do in the quest for parity. She points out that some schools pay those with non-tenure track appointments (“NTT”) one-half or less of the average pay for tenure-line faculty, even with the same (or greater) number of credit hours taught. She also addresses the disrespect and other “affronts” that many NTT must bear, like exclusion from faculty meetings and votes.

ASPers know too well the stinging bite of having tenure-line administrators and faculty dictate which courses we teach and what the content of those courses will and will not include. Sung like the song of our collective souls, Dickerson recounts the common practice of having faculty or faculty committees change or attempt to change program design (e.g., number of credits, grading schemes, course titles, etc.) “without consultation and sometimes over [our] expert objections.” Our ideas and experience-based practices and recommendations for course revisions and program redesign are too often challenged or disregarded. Failing to acknowledge the expertise and accomplishments of non-tenure track faculty and staff is a mistake that should be avoided at all costs. Caste

Of particular interest, is that Academic Support is neither assigned, nor expressly described by, a caste. If titles correlate to perceptions of one’s status, the omission of an entire skills discipline should sound an alarm. ABA Standard 405 makes specific reference to legal writing faculty and clinical faculty, and none specifically to ASP. Legal writing professors deserve every advance they have fought for over the years, and more. Still we cannot presume to be included in the decades-long battle to erode the hierarchy separating doctrine from skills.

Our legal writing and clinical counterparts are rarely categorized as staff. Yet many in ASP have staff classifications, despite teaching required and elective courses. Too many in ASP are denied a voice or vote in the programs they teach or direct, are physically segregated far from the faculty hallways, and are denied budget funding for travel and professional development, and have 12-month appointments that limit writing projects and scholarly pursuits. Have law schools and the ABA created a caste-in-caste system by further subdividing the “skills” faculty? Why is ASP too often omitted from the from discussions about hierarchy and status?

Dickerson asks what our law schools would look like without the labor and skill of NTT. Would our program of education be as robust? Would student class performance and outcomes decline? Would our students succeed on the bar at the same rate? Perhaps we can add to her well-voiced list of questions: 1) how would our profession look without the unnecessary stratification that law schools perpetuate?  and 2) what are we willing to do about it?

(Marsha Griggs)

November 29, 2020 in Academic Support Spotlight, Current Affairs, Diversity Issues, Encouragement & Inspiration, Guest Column | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, November 13, 2020

Nominations for AALS Board and office of Treasurer

The Nominating Committee of the AALS Section on Academic Support is now seeking nominations for three positions: an incoming 2020 Treasurer and two Board Members.

Under our section bylaws, our Treasurer should be able to commit to four year-long terms in succeeding positions. At each annual meeting, the Chair-Elect succeeds to the office of Chair, the Secretary to Chair-Elect, and Treasurer to Secretary. Individuals nominated for Treasurer should consider whether they are willing to serve the Section through this rotation. Executive Board members serve two-year terms. All Officers and members of the Executive Committee are expected to participate actively in Section work.

You may nominate yourself or another person. Each nomination should include a short statement (no more than 250 words) explaining the nominee’s interest and relevant background. Those who have served on the Board or as officers in prior years may be nominated for a current open position, but current officers and members of the Nominating Committee are not eligible. These include:

  • Board (term expires Jan 2022) – Afton Cavanaugh
  • Board (term expires Jan. 2022) - Maryann Herman
  • Board (term expires Jan 2021) – Herbert Ramy
  • Board (term expires Jan. 2021) – Haley Meade
  • Chair – Jamie Kleppetsch
  • Chair Elect – Melissa Hale
  • Officer (Treasurer) - Joe Buffington
  • Officer (Secretary) - Kirsha Trychta

Nomination statements are due by November 16, 2020. Please send nominations directly to the committee chair (Herbert Ramy) at [email protected].

November 13, 2020 in Academic Support Spotlight, Professionalism | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Call for SALT Award Nominations - Due November 13th

Call for Award Nominations

All nominations are due by November 13, 2020.

The Society of American Law Teachers invites members to nominate individuals or groups for the Great Teacher Award, the M. Shanara Gilbert Human Rights Award, and the Junior Faculty Teaching Award. SALT will honor the awardees and celebrate our community at the virtual annual event, date still to be determined. Please take a moment to recognize members of academia and the community for their exceptional and meaningful contributions to social justice, human rights, equality, and a better world. 
The successful nominees must be available to receive the award virtually at SALT’s celebration. You must be a current member of SALT to make a nomination. To check the status of your membership, email [email protected].
M. Shanara Gilbert Award 

The M. Shanara Gilbert Human Rights Award recognizes the contributions of individuals or groups who are tireless advocates for social justice, human rights, equality, and justice. The award is named after a CUNY Law School professor who dedicated her life to these principals and worked for social justice domestically and internationally. In her memory, SALT honors those who believe in fighting for a better world. The M. Shanara Gilbert Award is not awarded annually and is only bestowed when an exceptional individual, people, group or organization make significant contributions that warrant recognition from our community.

Past M. Shanara Gilbert Honorees: Azadeh N. Shashahani, the Indigenous Law and Policy Center at MSU Law, Jim Silk, Zahra Billoo, Sherrilyn Ifill, Hope Lewiz, Florence Roisman, Norris Henderson, Prison Law Office, Rhonda Copelon, Jennifer Harbury and Sister Dianna Ortiz, Joshua Rosenkranz, David Cole and Center for Constitutional Rights, Eva Patterson, Congressman John Lewis, Steven Bright and Bryan Stevenson, Honorable Barney Frank, Dr. Jesse N. Stone, Jr., and M. Shanara Gilbert

Great Teacher Award  

The SALT Great Teacher Award recognizes individuals that have made important contributions to teaching, legal education, and mentoring. The most important criteria are demonstrated 1) excellence in teaching and 2) commitment to advancing social justice and equality. 

Past Great Teacher Honorees: Jean C. Love, Lisa Brodoff, Frank Askin, Susan Bryant and Jean Koh Peters, Martha Mahoney, Holly Maguigan, Margaret Montoya, Keith Aoki, Phoebe Haddon, Francisco Valdés, Steve Wizner, Fran Ansley, Stephanie Wildman, Eric Yamamoto, Howard Glickstein, Bill Quigley, Charles Lawrence & Mari Matsuda, SALT Founders, Sylvia Law, Marjorie M. Schultz, Anthony Amsterdam, Jim Jones, W. Hayward Burns, Barbara Aldave, Trina Grillo, Norman Dorsen, Cruz Reynoso, Mary Jo Frug, Marilyn Yarborough, Rhonda Rivera, University of Wisconsin Law School, Howard Lesnick, Barbara Babcock, Clinton Bamberger, CUNY Law School, Derrick Bell, Herma Hill Kay, Charles Black, Arthur Leff, Harry Edwards, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Rennard Strickland, Thomas Emerson, Charles Miller, David Cavers.

Junior Faculty Award

The SALT Junior Faculty Award recognizes an outstanding recent entrant (seven years or fewer) into legal education who demonstrates a commitment to justice, equality, and academic excellence through their teaching, scholarship, and/or social justice advocacy. This award is designed to honor all faculty, including clinical, legal research and writing, librarian, and doctrinal teachers, as well as contract, tenure-track, and tenured faculty.

The Junior Faculty Award honors a faculty member who actively demonstrates a commitment to and alignment with SALT’s mission through teaching, scholarship, mentorship, and/or advocacy. For this award:

  • Excellence in Teaching is defined as the incorporation of social justice themes in the classroom and innovative curricular design in order to incorporate diversity and access to justice.
  • Excellence in Scholarship is defined as the incorporation of social justice and equality themes in scholarship.
  • Excellence in Advocacy is defined as efforts to increase access to and inclusion in legal education to marginalized students and first generation students; service to under-served and marginalized populations through direct advocacy or representation; and/or efforts to support individuals, nonprofits, communities, and/or movements that further justice and equality. 
  • Mentorship to others includes engagement with students and faculty members, in social justice pedagogy, scholarship, career preparation, or advocacy.

The award committee will also consider the following factors in its decision-making process:

  • Whether the nominee identifies as someone from a historically marginalized group;
  • Whether the nominee’s home law school has provided tangible and/or intangible support to the nominee’s efforts;
  • Whether the nominee has already received substantial recognition for their efforts (nominees who have not already received substantial recognition will be considered highly); and
  • The extent to which the nominee’s teaching area of focus aligns with social justice (nominees who focus on social justice but whose work does not clearly align with social justice will be considered highly).

Nomination Instructions

Nominations for the M. Shanara Gilbert Award and Great Teacher Award must be submitted to [email protected], subject line Gilbert Award Nominee or Great Teacher Award Nominee, by November 13, 2020 and include:

  • Name of the person or organization being nominated
  • Name of the nominator
  • Nominator and nominee SALT membership status
  • Statement in support of the nomination (2 page maximum). The statement should explain why the person or organization deserves the award, including how their work contributes to the mission of SALT.

Nominations for the Junior Faculty Award are also due November 13, 2020. Please complete the information listed on this online nomination form and email the nomination to [email protected]

October 28, 2020 in Academic Support Spotlight, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)