Wednesday, August 4, 2021
Trina Tinglum: A Dedication and Remembrance
By Debbie Borman
Friendship is a marvelous and strange thing that cannot be defined in any one particular way. Just by happenstance we meet people who both enhance our lives and change our worldview forever, even if our friendship is limited by distance or availability or both.
Such was my friendship with Trina.
I first met Trina in 2009 or 2010 at a conference in a West Academic booth. We connected and began to discuss the possibility of a book contract. These discussions continued over the years at conferences, on the phone, in email, over wine, at AALS, LWI, in San Francisco, New York, and any place we could sneak off and have a private conversation. Trina and I exchanged life stories and gave each other solicited and unsolicited advice. We provided an ear for each other when we had the opportunity. Because of our hectic personal and professional lives those conversations were not frequent. But I always felt that if I needed her, she would be there for me.
My book was published by West in January 2019. Long before that date, Trina left publishing and began her career as a legal writing professor. We were then able to continue our discussions on different terms: as colleagues in the same profession.
The sad news last March that Trina died was shocking and hard-hitting. I went back to the last email correspondence I had with her in September 2019 – before she became sick. We were making plans to see each other. I did not know she had become ill. We were always both so busy we did not reach out regularly. I am still looking at her mobile number in my phone, incredulous and overcome with sadness that I cannot make a call and hear her voice again.
For those of you who did not know Trina, she joined the University of Wisconsin Law, her alma mater, as faculty in 2012. She taught Legal Research and Writing I and II, Legal Sources, Law Firm Writing Workshop, and Writing for Law Practice. Prior to working at UW Law, as noted above, she was an acquisitions editor at West Publishing. She also taught legal research and writing at Hamline University and was a law librarian and legal research instructor at the University of St. Thomas Law School. Trina also earned an M.S. In Library and information Science from UW.
Recognition for the people who do and did not crave the spotlight is often overlooked in academia. I collected some thoughts from Trina’s friends and colleagues so we can always remember her contributions to publishing and to academia, and forever remember her as a wonderful friend:
Tessa Boury, Director, Hudson Hospital Foundation
As long as I knew Trina, she was a teacher. I worked with her at West Academic Publishing and she taught me the role of an acquisitions editor. But Trina taught me much more than that. She taught me to be a working, professional mother. She taught me how to challenge myself while remaining true to myself. I watched her do the same in her career at UW. She taught me kindness, authenticity, good style, grit, forgiveness, and tenacity. Trina taught me what it was to be a genuine friend. And anybody who knew her was lucky to be her student.
Julie Oseid, St. Thomas Law School
Trina was supportive and encouraging, but it was her positive attitude that set her apart.
When I started as a faculty member at the University of St. Thomas Law School, I had been a stay-at-home parent for 13 years. I had not touched a legal resource during that time, let alone kept up with new developments. My self-confidence was low, but I knew I had to pull it together. Trina to the rescue! I confessed my inadequacy to Trina. She smiled, nodded, and said, "We will figure this out. You can do this. And I'll help." And she was true to her word. She was always willing to help as I learned and relearned legal research skills. She was calm, positive, and sympathetic. When I left her office, I was uplifted and ready to face a new challenge. She was an inspiration for my own teaching. I hope my support uplifts and empowers my students.
Carrie Sperling, University of Wisconsin
When I first arrived at the University of Wisconsin, I remember that Trina was one of the first to enthusiastically welcome me. Trina came in a small package but exuded outsized warmth and energy. Like all good teachers, Trina brimmed with curiosity. She always searched for better ways to engage and teach her students, and we bonded over that. Together, we forged a collaboration between legal writing students and my clinic, the Wisconsin Innocence Project.
The students drafted a research memo on a complex issue we were planning to litigate for a real-life client.
Trina and I spent so much of our casual time together chatting about the effects of a growth mindset on student learning, we decided to present our thoughts, research, and a fun experiment at the LWI Biennial Conference. The fun experiment was an idea we had that Trina put into practice. She wanted to learn a new skill while her students were learning legal writing. Trina chose juggling, which she had never tried to master. Trina engaged her class with her quest to learn how to juggle while they were learning how to write. She dropped a lot of balls in class, but she kept improving and having fun. And isn’t that the point! Is there any question that her students and I will miss her terribly?
Liz Reppe, State Law Librarian, Minnesota State Law Library
I met Trina when I was a law librarian at Hamline and she was our West rep. We became fast friends, and later colleagues as she moved into law librarianship. She was very smart, compassionate, and incredibly dedicated to the students. I’m glad she and I had a chance to cross paths in life. I send my sincere condolences to her family.
Vicente E. Garces, Reference Administration & Web Services Librarian, University of Minnesota Law Library
Trina was a wonderful colleague, very dedicated, and very active in MALL. It's no surprise that she went on to have such a highly successful career. She'll be missed by those of us who had the pleasure and honor to have her as a colleague.
Brenda Tofte, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Iowa
She had that gift of making everyone feel like they were the most important person in her life. She remembered everything you ever told her and always asked about family, projects, etc.
Trina also believed in “making the circle bigger.” When she taught legal research and writing to undergraduates at Hamline University, she would seek out others she knew wanted to enter the profession to co-teach with her as a way to help them get more teaching experience. I was one of the people she reached out to in this way and I will be eternally grateful for her mentorship, good humor, and generosity. Truly one of those people you could pick up with right where you left off.
Kim Peterson, University of Wisconsin Law
Trina was a popular teacher who was devoted to her students both academically and personally. Even while battling cancer, she sought to help her students through a difficult year and offered office hours that were quickly filled to capacity. A beloved friend and colleague, Trina will be remembered for her kindness, dedication, and empathy toward others. She felt that teaching was her calling and often said, “How lucky I am to get to do a job I love so much.”
Daniel P. Tokaji, Fred W. & Vi Miller Dean and Professor of Law
University of Wisconsin Law School
Trina was a graduate of UW Law and joined our faculty in 2012, after having served as an acquisitions editor at West, where I had the good fortune of getting to know her. She received a Master's Degree in Library & Information Science and taught legal research at the University of St. Thomas Law School and Hamline University.
Trina was an extraordinary member of our community. Her devotion to her students and to our Law School is legendary. Even after her diagnosis and during her treatment, Trina was offering office hours to our students – which were, of course, filled to capacity.
Kimberly Holst, ASU Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law
I met Trina when I was teaching at Hamline Law School, and she was teaching both at Hamline and at St. Thomas. When I left Hamline, I found myself seeking out Trina’s bright smile at conferences where I knew she was attending or presenting. Trina was the kind of person with whom you could fall naturally into a comfortable conversation. It didn’t matter if it had been months or years since you’d last seen each other. Our community lost someone truly special with Trina’s passing.