Five outstanding professors at American University Washington College of Law were honored as winners of the annual WCL Teaching and Service Awards.

Five AUWCL Professors Recognized for Teaching, Service

April 18, 2018

Five outstanding professors at American University Washington College of Law were honored Wednesday, April 18 as winners of the annual WCL Teaching and Service Awards. Recipients were recognized for their innovative teaching and service both in and outside of the classroom.

Excellence in Teaching Award: Professor Jeremi Duru

The Excellence in Teaching Award recognizes outstanding teaching, reflected by thoughtful pedagogy, commitment to student mentoring and advising, institutional leadership focused on improving the variety, quality, and rigor of teaching at the Washington College of Law.

Professor Jeremi Duru – who specializes in sports law, civil procedure, and employment discrimination – is among the nation’s foremost sports law authorities. His expertise can be underscored in two of his most recent published works, “The Rooney Rule’s Reach: How the NFL’s Equal Opportunity Initiative for Coaches Inspired Local Government Reform” (The Oxford Handbook of American Sports Law, December 2017) and “In Search of the Final Head Ball: The Case for Eliminated Heading from Soccer” (Missouri Law Review, Fall 2018). 

“Heading the ball exposes players to both concussive and sub-concussive impacts, threatening their neurological health.  [In Search of the Final Head Ball], therefore, argues that soccer’s governing bodies should eliminate the practice of heading from the game for players of all ages and at all levels,” Duru said.   

Innovation in Pedagogy Award: Professor Macarena Sáez

The Innovation in Pedagogy Award recognizes exceptional creativity and innovation in instruction, including but not limited to, the use of technology.

Professor Macarena Sáez teaches in the areas of gender and sexuality, family law, comparative law, and the international human rights. She is also the faculty director for AUWCL’s Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, and a fellow in the International Legal Studies Program.

Sáez created Strategic Litigation in International Human Rights Law, a hybrid class that combines doctrinal teaching on impact and public interest litigation with a practical component that allows students to work on projects linked to outside institutions and real international human rights cases.

“This is a unique class in which students gain substantive knowledge on impact litigation and develop the key skills required for effective litigation and legal advocacy,” Sáez said. "Each session is different and students have to view the class as if it was a weekly meeting of staff attorneys at a human rights NGO. From the timing and format of email communications with their ‘colleagues’ (classmates and faculty) in the ‘NGO,’ to the activities developed in every ‘staff meeting,’ students engage in a multi-cultural, professional environment and take responsibility for products developed for outside organizations.”

Adjunct Teaching Award: Adjunct Professors Steven Shapiro and Kenneth Troccoli

The Adjunct Teaching Award recognizes outstanding teaching, thoughtful pedagogy, committed student mentoring, or exceptional creativity and innovation in instruction by a member of the adjunct faculty.

Steven Shapiro teaches Construction Law and Contract Drafting at AUWCL, and is also the director of the law school’s Hospitality and Tourism Law (HTL) Program.

Shapiro has brought the hospitality program to law schools and universities abroad, working with U.S. foreign embassies and meeting with deans and leaders of schools in France, Spain, the U.K., and the Netherlands.  On a recent trip to France, Shapiro taught at a business school in Paris, where he collaborated with a dominant French hotel company in teaching U.S. hotel topics and looking at comparisons with European systems. He has also made innovative connections with national trade associations, so that HTL students are able to examine current topics and issues and participate in legal conferences.

When Kenneth Troccoli is not teaching Evidence and Criminal Procedure courses at AUWCL, he is working as a senior litigator in the Office of the Federal Public Defender for the Eastern District of Virginia. There, he oversees the Pro Bono Counsel Program, which he co-created. The program recruits law firms to provide free legal services to indigent defendants who have been charged with a criminal offense in federal court.

“These free legal services have helped scores of indigent defendants since we launched the program in 2008,” Troccoli said. “The firms benefit as well, by providing them an opportunity to provide pro bono services.  It also benefits their attorneys who work alongside an attorney from my office and thus gain valuable courtroom experience in federal court.”

Outstanding Service Award: Professor Fernanda Nicola

The Outstanding Service Award recognizes a faculty member’s outstanding service either outside or within the law school or university. 

Professor Fernanda Nicola, director of the Program on International Organizations, Law and Diplomacy, focuses her research and teaching on European Union Law, Tort Law, Comparative Law, and Local Government Law.

In April of last year, Nicola organized the Academic Conference of the 2017 Luxembourg Forum, a legal exchange between the U.S. Supreme Court and the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) that provides high-level transatlantic judicial consultations and discussion, with the goal of facilitating dialogue and enhancing mutual understanding between the U.S. and EU judicial systems. She moderated the keynote conversation “Judges as Diplomats in Advancing the Rule of Law,” which featured Stephen Breyer, associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court and Koen Lenaerts, president of the CJEU.

Nicola said her recent book project, Luxembourg Judicial Style: Characteristics of Transnational Adjudication,deploys legal history, sociology, comparative law, feminist jurisprudence, primary archival research, and interviews with participants to describe what I call the Luxembourg Judicial Style. The judicial style of the Court of Justice of the EU is typically characterized by the secrecy of its deliberation. Yet, it maintains three characteristic elements – National Legal Traditions, Judicial Narratives and Gender as a Social Process – that could show through ethnographic studies the power dynamics in transnational adjudication influencing judicial deliberations.”