Professor Wanda Temm and Dean Jeffrey Berman Receive Teaching Awards

Professor Wanda Temm, clinical professor and director of the law school’s writing and bar services programs, and Jeffrey Berman, associate dean and Patrick D. Kelly peer professor of law, both received awards at the campus Celebration of Excellence faculty and staff awards celebration held on Tuesday, April 9th.  Professor Temm received the Provost’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, UMKC’s highest honor for excellence in teaching for clinical and teaching faculty.  Dean Berman received the Elmer F. Pierson Teaching Award, which is given annually to recognize outstanding teaching in the School of Law.

Provost Award Winner Professor Wanda Temm:

The Provost’s Award requires clear, compelling and documented evidence of excellence in teaching, student development and learning as well as sensitivity and adaptability to individual student needs, interests and challenges.  Peer and student reviews of Professor Temm’s teaching in the school of law’s writing and bar preparation programs as well as the performance of our graduates on the Bar provide the type of clear demonstration required for this award.

Professor Temm has been an invaluable asset to the school of law for more than twenty years. She has been innovative in developing programs that truly prepare students to pass the bar and to enter the profession “practice-ready” with well-developed fundamental lawyering skills.  She consistently reviews and updates the school’s legal writing curriculum, working collaboratively with legal writing faculty and seeking and using input from the practicing bar.  The bar prep program she developed is light-years ahead of the curve and is considered the gold standard nationally for such programs.

Law schools regularly ask if anyone has an “answer” for increasing bar passage of graduates.  Under Professor Temm’s leadership, UMKC has found the answer: a dedicated, coordinated, intensive program infused with passion for student success.  That passion comes from Professor Temm, who instills it in her team of co-teachers and the students they guide through the bar preparation process.  The dean’s file cabinet is full of letters from graduates thanking the law school for Professor Temm’s dedication to their success, which is demonstrated by the over 97% bar passage rate of graduates who actively participate in the UMKC Bar Prep Program.

The Elmer F. Pierson Teaching Award Winner Dean Jeffrey Berman:

The Pierson Award recipient is nominated by the Dean, in consultation with School of Law Alumni Association President Mara Cohara, and is formally selected by the UMKC alumni association board. The school of law’s recipient, Dean Jeffrey Berman, has been teaching for almost forty and has served as associate or interim dean for thirty of those years. Administrators are often overlooked when it comes to teaching awards, but this past year in particular, Dean Berman outdid himself as a teacher and in his commitment to students.  As a result, he simply could not be overlooked. Near-perfect scores on the student ratings of instruction for his Civil Procedure and Applied Evidence courses as well as his going above and beyond to provide outstanding opportunities for student learning virtually compelled his selection for this award.

Comments on Dean Berman’s teaching evaluations, which included statements such as “brilliant, well-prepared, funny, interesting, genuinely cares, awesome, my favorite class throughout law school. . . One of the classes I can honestly say I will use every day in my real life practice,” demonstrate his teaching excellence. His innovation and commitment to students are demonstrated by his teaching activities this past year. Dean Berman’s Applied Evidence course is a cutting-edge blend of doctrine and skills training, and this past summer, he taught that course on an uncompensated basis when the school needed another upper-level skills course among its offerings.

In addition, this past year, Dean Berman reactivated his Missouri Bar license – not a simple check-the-box process – so that he could take over clinical oversight of the Appellate Practice Clinic and keep that exciting opportunity alive. He has worked closely with students in the clinic who represent clients in unemployment compensation appeals and get the amazing opportunity to brief and argue real cases before the Missouri Court of Appeals even before they graduate. Dean Berman works closely with his students as they develop and practice their arguments, and he attends every oral argument where he sees the impact of his work as students defend their positions with competence and professionalism before the court.

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