Monday, January 23, 2017

          A Class Above: Professor David Takacs receives 2016 Rutter Award for Teaching Excellence

          Friends, colleagues, alumni, students, and other members of the UC Hastings community gathered to celebrate Professor Takacs as the winner of the 2016 Rutter Award for Teaching Excellence.
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          “Every day I come to UC Hastings and I am totally baffled that I have this job that I love,” said David. Pictured here with some of his students in attendance for the award ceremony.

          “He represents the best of what UC Hastings has to offer,” stated Professor Dave Owen while reading excerpts from numerous emails submitted by former and present UC Hastings students describing Professor David Takacs.

          “He considers his greatest triumphs to be when his students shine,” continued Dave Owen as members of the UC Hastings community filled every seat in the Alumni Reception Center (and many more were left standing) to celebrate Professor David Takacs as the winner of the 2016 Rutter Award for Teaching Excellence.

          The selection committee—Acting Provost & Academic Dean Evan Lee, Professor Morris Ratner (last year’s recipient), Noel Edlin ‘82, and ASUCH President 2L Samuel Chang—unanimously chose Takacs for this annual award of $10,000 provided by the Rutter Endowment to an outstanding UC Hastings professor. “Passion, commitment, love for teaching, and love for his students. That is why we are here today and that is the thing about David that the committee was most impressed with,” noted Evan Lee in his opening remarks.

          Throughout the ceremony, David’s commitment as an educator was affirmed by his students and colleagues alike. “He is genuinely invested in all of his students,” commented Ivan Jimenez ’16. “His door was always open. If he didn’t have time, he made time.”

          Takacs, who is a proud UC Hastings alumnus, also holds an LL.M. from the School of Oriental & African Studies at the University of London, and a B.S. (Biology), M.A., and Ph.D. (Science & Technology Studies) from Cornell University. He began teaching at UC Hastings in 2011 after consulting for international NGOs and US government agencies where he analyzed legal and policy issues pertaining to REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation) and global climate change. In his former, non-legal life, David was a professor in Earth Systems Science & Policy at CSU Monterey Bay, a lecturer in the John S. Knight Writing Program at Cornell, and a Peace Corps Forestry Volunteer in Senegal.

          “Every day I come to UC Hastings and I am totally baffled that I have this job that I love,” said David as he accepted the award and recognized all those who supported him in becoming a law professor, especially his loving partner.

          “I want to thank the most important person in the room, my husband of 20 something years, Larry. One day [before attending UC Hastings] I went home and said to Larry that I want to quit my job, I want to go to law school, I want you to pay tuition for 3 years, pay the mortgage for 3 years and do all the cooking and all the cleaning. You won’t see me for 3 years and then I’m going to be a radical environmental lawyer and make $40,000 a year. And Larry did what he always did and said, ‘Yes dear.’”

          Generosity and support was a continued theme throughout David’s speech, which culminated in a surprise bequest to the UC Hastings students. “Although we could use the money, what Larry and I decided to do is give it [$10,000] back to the public interest law foundation. We are going to set up for this summer and next summer two $5,000.00 public interest grants for students interested in nonprofit or governmental environmental work.”

          Takacs dedicated the generous donation to his colleague and mentor Professor Brian E. Gray, who was in attendance and was a firm supporter of David first becoming a faculty member. “It’s at will," clarified David, "but we will try to fund this grant for as long as we feel like it and as long as we can afford to live in San Francisco. We’re calling it the Brian E. Gray public interest fellowship in environmental law. The acronym is ‘BEGPIFEL,’ which we may have to work on, but it will be available to students this summer. Thank you so much.”

          No, thank you Professor! It goes without saying that the UC Hastings community is better and stronger with David Takacs as a continued part of it.

          Click here for more great moments from the award ceremony.


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