Law students pick incoming dean as professor of the year

Published: April 14th, 2014

Category: Feature

Dawson_George_2014By Richard Goldstein

UF Law’s largest student group has voted Professor George Dawson, the law school’s incoming interim dean, as Levin College of Law’s Professor of the Year.

The 400-member John Marshall Bar Association announced Wednesday that it chose Dawson for the honor thanks to his clear explanation of law cases and consistent attention to student needs.

“I just found he was the most engaging professor,” said Alisha Feldman, the group’s public relations director who took Dawson for her first-year contracts course. “Somehow the way he taught wasn’t so scary, but he really ingrained the information in our heads, the way he talked through cases.”

Dawson, who is traveling in Vienna, Austria, this week with the International Commercial Arbitration Moot team, has been popular among UF Law students for years. It’s the fourth time he has been chosen as professor of the year.

“I’ve been honored with this award before and it means as much to me now as it has before,” Dawson said via email.

Feldman said Dawson gives a first impression as a matter-of-fact lecturer, but soon impresses students with his wit and caring nature. Feldman said Dawson regularly spends 30 minutes speaking to students after class ends to talk over issues raised during the lecture. And a deadpan delivery can go a long way, with a little slapstick thrown in.

One day, Dawson came to class with a paper bag, its contents a mystery to the 100 students filling the lecture hall.

“The case was about two parties who disagreed about what constituted a ‘suitable’ chicken for a particular shipment,” Feldman recalled. “And when we started discussing it he said: ‘what is a chicken?’ and then pulled out the rubber chicken.”

Dawson joined UF Law in 1981 and had planned to retire at the close of the school year. Instead he accepted the job of interim dean, prompted by the expected July departure of Dean Robert Jerry after 11 years on the job.

Dawson has served two, four-year terms as UF Law associate dean for academic affairs, and he is currently co-director of the College of Law Summer Program at the University of Montpellier in France.

He is a member and former chair of the Law School Admission Council (LSAC), past chair of the Association of American Law Schools Committee on Curriculum & Research, and past chair of the LSAC Test Development and Research Committee.

His previous academic experience includes positions as instructor at the University of Michigan, assistant professor, assistant dean and associate professor at the University of Oregon, and visiting professor at various institutions.

Dawson earned his bachelor’s degree from Princeton University and his law degree from the University of Chicago. He is a member and former chair of the Law School Admission Council (LSAC), past chair of the Association of American Law Schools Committee on Curriculum & Research, and chair of the LSAC Test Development & Research Committee.