USC Gould Search

Kudos to students, faculty, staff

Friday, April 24, 2009

Annual Awards Ceremony honors USC Law standouts

—By Lori Craig

Hundreds of USC Law students, faculty and staff gathered in the sunshine in Crocker Plaza April 16 to cheer for their own.

The Student Bar Association named its professor, adjunct professor and staff member of the year, while Dean Robert K. Rasmussen presented the law school awards to one professor and 12 graduating students.

Among the winners were Professor Thomas Griffith, who received the third annual William A. Rutter Distinguished Teaching Awards. Among the courses Griffith teaches are Contracts, Criminal Law, and Corporate Taxation.

"He's been the prime mover in our academic support program. In his criminal law class, he teaches an extra hour each week for which he receives no extra teaching credit, no extra compensation, but rather he does it because he recognizes that all USC Law students can be successful attorneys," Rasmussen said.

"Tax, by all accounts, is one of the most complex statutory courses that we teach at the law school ... [Griffith] has that rare and important ability of great professors to be clear without inordinately simplifying the material; he's able to ensure that everyone in the classroom understands precisely what is being said and learns the basic structure and argument of our tax code."

Elizabeth Gonzalez '09 was among six students to receive a Shattuck Award, given to students with the greatest potential for becoming outstanding members of the bar. Perhaps involved in more student groups and activities than any of her peers, Gonzalez served in the Public Interest Law Foundation, Law Students for Reproductive Justice, the Student Bar Association, Legal Aid Alternative Breaks, Public Counsel, La Raza Law Students Association, Hale Moot Court, the 3L Leadership Committee and the Immigration Clinic.

Dean Rasmussen called her "tireless and dedicated not only to this law school and its students, but also to the neighboring community and the underrepresented populations of Los Angeles and beyond."

Event Coordinator Clara Ross was named Outstanding Staff Member of the Year by SBA President Aly Parker '09. Parker said the SBA received a record number of nominations for its three awards this year. In one nomination for Ross, a student wrote, "she is responsible for making me feel much more connected to the law school, beyond classes and professors."

"You would never know how hard she works behind the scenes if you just observed her smiling around the law school and pulling off complex events with ease," Parker said. "But I've been lucky enough to work with her many times and in perhaps the understatement of the year, she is a very, very busy lady."

One of two winners of the Mason C. Brown Award, given to students who demonstrate a commitment to public interest work and a talent for trial work, Stephanie Cirone '09 has brought legal help to South Africa, New Orleans and a Los Angeles shelter.

One student who nominated her wrote that Cirone is "truly believing in equal access to justice and a zealous advocate for people in our community, country and the world."

The William A. Rutter Distinguished Teaching Award honors a faculty member who is dedicated to great classroom teaching.
—Professor Thomas Griffith, John B. Milliken Professor of Taxation

The Mason C. Brown Award recognizes students who demonstrate a commitment to public interest endeavors and a particular talent for trial work.
Stephanie Cirone
Kevin Hermansen

The SBA Outstanding Faculty and Staff Awards honor a faculty member, adjunct professor and staff member for their service to students.

The Edward and Eleanor Shattuck Award is given to students who have demonstrated the greatest potential for becoming outstanding members of the Bar and whose actions have improved the general quality of life at USC Law.
Andrew Coffin (not pictured)
Elizabeth Gonzalez (not pictured)

The Miller-Johnson Equal Justice Prize recognizes the student who shows the greatest commitment to the causes of civil and social justice.

The Graduate and International Programs Award recognizes students who have demonstrated outstanding dedication, involvement and significant contribution to the law school community.


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