Law professor Miriam Seifter says her teaching philosophy is two-fold.
“First, law school should be empowering, not deflating. I want my classes to be a place where students find their voices rather than only hearing mine.”
“But second, I believe the way to empower students is to challenge them,” she adds. “When given the opportunity, students rise to the occasion.”
Seifter is one of 12 campus educators receiving UW-Madison’s Distinguished Teaching Awards in 2018. She joined the University of Wisconsin Law School faculty in 2014 to teach administrative law, property law and energy law. In the three years since, law students and colleagues alike have voiced consistent praise for her teaching.
In course evaluations, students say Seifter’s high expectations—combined with her preparedness, her sense of humor, and her ability to explain tough concepts clearly—builds their confidence and motivates them to learn. In faculty peer reviews, Seifter’s colleagues are impressed with her knack for the “cold call” as a teaching strategy. Cold calling is a method of testing for understanding that often inspires fear in first-year law students, but Seifter’s system keeps students engaged and thinking critically, they say.
Seifter’s Distinguished Teaching honor comes just months after law students voted her the 2017 Teacher of the Year.
According to Law Dean Margaret Raymond, “These accolades for Professor Seifter’s teaching are not only well-deserved, they’re very special for an academic in such early stages of her career. It’s my great honor as dean to celebrate her achievements in our classrooms.”
Beyond her teaching expertise, Seifter has built a reputation as a talented scholar whose articles on administrative law have appeared in several major Law Reviews.
Prior to coming to UW Law, Seifter served as a litigation associate for the San Francisco-based Munger, Tolles and Olson. She also completed clerkships with Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg of the United States Supreme Court and Chief Judge Merrick Garland of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
The university has presented its Distinguished Teaching Awards annually since 1953 to recognize its finest educators. Besides Seifter, six other Law School professors have received the honor, including Alta Charo (2014); Howard Erlanger (2004, 1993); Jane Schacter (1998); John Kidwell (1992); Kenneth Davis (1990); and William Church (1985).
Seifter says, “I am so honored by this award. Teaching is a joy, and I feel lucky to have such wonderful students and colleagues.”
She and the other Distinguished Teaching honorees will formally receive their awards at a ceremony hosted by Chancellor Rebecca Blank and Provost Sarah Mangelsdorf. The event is scheduled for Wednesday, April 11, at 5 p.m. at the Fluno Center.
Miriam Seifter talks about her 2018 Distinguished Teaching Award
Submitted by Tammy Kempfert on March 15, 2018