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Professor Ann Carlson Wins Rutter Award

Professor Ann Carlson, who has served as the academic associate dean for the last two academic years, was honored with the 2006 Rutter Award for Excellence in Teaching. Professor Carlson, who has taught at UCLA since 1994 and serves as co-director of the Frank G. Wells Environmental Law Clinic, is certainly one of our finest teachers. As anyone who has taken one of her courses or observed her teaching can attest, she is someone who deeply and passionately cares about her students. She is also, without question, one of the most well-liked teachers in the law school. Professor Carlson is consistently praised for her humanity, passion and great interest in the students’ success-both within her classes and long after graduation.

As Dean Michael Schill often says, “At UCLA Law, teaching matters. Our graduates go on to become the leaders of the state, and in many instances, the nation. Indeed, we expect that our professors recognize this inevitability and take full advantage of the time those future leaders spend within our walls to inspire rigorous study and elicit great thought.”

In first year classes like Property, Professor Carlson is commended for her organization, her clear and concise explanations, and her engaging demeanor on the topics at hand. As one student said “Property was definitely my favorite course…it wasn’t a class where I felt I learned only from the casebook and supplemental materials, but from class itself.” This is truly a testament to her ability to engage students in the classroom.

Professor Carlson gave a thoughtful, funny and touching speech upon receiving the prestigious Rutter Award, in which she discussed the challenges, joys and her own perspective on the art of teaching. She closed her comments with the observation about what teaching is and should be:

“At the end of the day, finding the right way to teach is about figuring out a way to leave a mark, however small, on our students, who will, after all, become the leaders of our cities, our states, even our country. It’s about trying to inspire them to make a smarter and cleaner legal argument, to be both an effective and an honest, decent lawyer, to instill in at least some of them a passion for subject you’re teaching—in my case a passion for the environment or for land use or for wills and trusts or housing. It’s about hoping that something in your teaching grabs a hold of them and changes—if only in a small way—their lives as lawyers and as people.”

Professor Carlson’s scholarship in environmental law focuses on important constitutional questions affecting environmental law and policy, including standing, federalism and preemption, as well as on the role social norms play in affecting environmentally cooperative behavior. She also edits the Southern California Environmental Report Card, published by UCLA’s Institute of the Environment.

Professor Carlson is looking forward to returning to teaching full-time this year after having spent the last two years as academic associate dean, where she has been instrumental in working closely with Dean Schill on a variety of projects that benefit and advance the entire law school community.