At the Law School's Diploma Ceremony on May 12, Professor Allison Orr Larsen was honored with the Walter L. Williams, Jr., Memorial Teaching Award, given by each graduating class to a member of the faculty in recognition of outstanding teaching.
Jillian M. Jacobs J.D. '13 presented the award on behalf of the class, and told the audience about Larsen's "passion for the law and for teaching her students."
"I've frequently heard professors remark that they can quickly tell whether a student is engaged and loves learning," said Jacobs. "I think it is also true that students can immediately determine whether a professor is engaged and loves teaching." Looking back on her time as a first-year student in Larsen's constitutional law class, Jacobs recalled that that she "could immediately tell that [Larsen] would be one of those special professors." She added that she had served as her teaching assistant for two semesters and had heard the same assessment from other students.
Larsen, said Jacobs, possesses a talent for making "complex subjects seem interesting and easy to understand." This professor, she added, has a rare set of character traits: "friendly, caring, brilliant, and funny."
Larsen was out of the country attending a friend's wedding at the time of the ceremony, but sent a message to the class that Jacobs shared. "Thank you so much for honoring me with this award," Larsen wrote. "The Class of 2013 will forever remain special to me because we all started together in the fall of 2010 - new to Williamsburg, eager to learn, ready to be a part of this fantastic institution, and petrified that people could tell how nervous we were. Teaching you these past three years has been my joy and I look forward to watching you all shine in this profession for many years to come. Congratulations to you all; I miss you already!"
Walter L. Williams, Jr., was a member of the law faculty from 1972 to 1991. A scholar of international law, Williams taught with "enthusiasm, warmth and good humor," as noted in the resolution establishing the teaching award in his honor.
Larsen received her undergraduate degree, magna cum laude, from the College of William & Mary and then attended the University of Virginia School of Law where she graduated first in her class and served on the managing board of the Virginia Law Review. She clerked for Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and Justice David Souter on the U.S. Supreme Court. Read her full biography here.
In 2012, William & Mary's provost selected Larsen to receive an Alumni Fellowship, a university-wide award given to young faculty members to recognize outstanding teaching.