At the Law School's Diploma Ceremony on May 17, the Class of 2015 honored Professor Adam Gershowitz with the Walter L. Williams, Jr., Memorial Teaching Award, which is given each year by graduates to recognize outstanding teaching. This is the seventh teaching award Gershowitz has received since beginning his academic career in 2005.
Gershowitz joined the William & Mary faculty in 2012 and was named the Herbert V. Kelly, Sr., Professor of Teaching Excellence for 2014-2016. Earlier this year William & Mary honored Gershowitz with the Plumeri Award for Faculty Excellence.
Phillip Harvey, J.D. ’15 presented the award on behalf of the class, and told the audience that Gershowitz "is as well respected as he is liked." In the classroom, Harvey said, he conveys "not only an honest enthusiasm for, subtle mastery of, and wry humor about his subjects but also a genuine respect and regard for his students."
Harvey described Gershowitz's thoughtful demeanor in class discussions. "He does not hide his opinions, but neither does he push them," he said. "Rather, by his candor and self-deprecation, he fosters an atmosphere where all opinions may be safely expressed." Harvey, who took two classes with Gershowitz, shared an insight into the honoree's skill as a moderator. "[Professor Gershowitz] knows when a discussion needs to be sped up, redirected, or – in moments of sometimes remarkable student expression – simply terminated," he said.
Gershowitz's impact on many students became clear, Harvey said, as he read the nominations and spoke to classmates. "[Professor Gershowitz has] challenged, refined, and inspired many of us in our thinking about the law, and about what it means to be a lawyer and a citizen," he said.
Earlier in his career, Gershowitz received the Best New Professor Award, the All Faculty Teaching Award, and the All Faculty Advising Award at South Texas College of Law. At the University of Houston Law Center, he received the Order of the Barons Professor of the Year Award, the Student Bar Association Professor of the Year Award and the All University Teaching Award. An expert in criminal procedure and criminal justice, he is the author of more than two-dozen scholarly articles. The Supreme Court cited his amicus brief on behalf of criminal procedure professors in its ruling in Riley v. California, 134 S. Ct. 2473 (2014), forbidding warrantless cell phone searches.
The Law School's Kelly Professorship of Teaching Excellence was made possible by a gift from the late Herbert V. Kelly, Sr., who received his undergraduate and law degrees from William & Mary. Kelly was the senior partner at Jones, Blechman, Woltz & Kelly in Newport News, Va., until his death in 2007.
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.
Thomas Jefferson founded William & Mary Law School in 1779 to train leaders for the new nation. Now in its third century, America's oldest law school continues its historic mission of educating citizen lawyers who are prepared both to lead and to serve.