May 14, 2006
Tom Lininger seventh law faculty member to win the crystal apple – the UO’s top teaching award
A CRYSTAL APPLE FOR
ASSISTANT PROFESSOR TOM LININGER
University of Oregon President Dave Frohnmayer presented law professor Tom Lininger with a crystal apple — “a symbol of teaching excellence” — in a surprise visit to a law faculty meeting on Friday, May 12.
Frohnmayer was accompanied by Lininger’s wife, Merle Weiner, also a professor at the law school, and the couple’s two sons.
“I’ve learned a lot from the other faculty here at the University of Oregon,” Lininger said. “There are some great professors at this school who provide a model for the junior faculty.”
Lininger, an assistant professor of law who joined the faculty in 2003, is the seventh law faculty member to receive the Ersted Award for Distinguished Teaching.
This university-wide award recognizes exemplary teaching by faculty members early in their careers. Two winners are chosen each year based on the recommendation of faculty members and students; they receive a $2,000 stipend added to their base salary.
Lininger has taught evidence, ethics, criminal procedure, and alternative dispute resolution. He also directs the law school’s Public Interest/Public Service Program. In 2004, Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski appointed Lininger to chair the state’s Criminal Justice Commission.
The new Ersted Award winner is a former Lane County commissioner and federal prosecutor whose experience in criminal law and policy makes him a demanding instructor. He carefully hones the reasoning skills of his students and inspires critical thought.
Students say his classes are filled with humor and passion, and student evaluators call him simply outstanding.
Lininger has enlivened his classes with a number of innovative teaching techniques. His students have simulated Supreme Court arguments at the same time the Court is hearing actual cases; afterward, students can then compare their conclusions with those reached by the Court.
Lininger’s students have engaged in policy discussions that have resulted in legislative proposals that he has presented to the Oregon House Judiciary Committee. During a unit addressing the confirmation process for judicial nominees, Lininger organized a game show called The Nominating Game (modeled after The Dating Game).
Lininger grew up in Ashland and is a graduate of Yale and of Harvard Law School. He worked as a federal prosecutor and as a litigator for Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher and Flom in San Francisco.
He was recently invited to join a working group advising the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on legislative strategies for responding to the Supreme Court’s new rulings restricting the use of hearsay in criminal prosecutions.
The law school faculty has won more than its share of the university’s top two teaching awards; the Ersted for junior faculty and the Herman for those in mid career:
1957 Charles G. Howard received the inaugural award
1982 Charles Wilkinson
1984 Laird Kirkpatrick
1989 David Schuman
1994 Mary C. Wood
2004 Michael Moffitt
1990 Jim Mooney
1992 Dominick Vetri