William A. Kaplin Award - National Conference on Law and Higher Education

william kaplin photoThe Center for Excellence in Higher Education Law and Policy is proud to have established the Award for Excellence in Higher Education Law and Policy Scholarship, named for our esteemed friend and colleague, Professor William A. Kaplin. This award recognizes scholars who have published works on education law that embrace the intersection of law and policy.

Award Criteria

  • Nominees will be judged on their scholarly work that has been published or accepted for publication. Preference generally will be given to nominees with a record of publication during the three-year period preceding the nomination that demonstrates a trajectory of excellence. The scholarly work may focus solely on American higher education, or on American higher education's interrelationships with elementary/secondary (K12) education, or on American higher education in comparison to the higher education system of one or more other countries.
  • To be eligible for the award, the research and the analysis in the scholarly work must address both legal issues/considerations and policy issues/considerations. The policy aspects of the work may involve institutional policy concerns of colleges and universities, addressed primarily by institutional officers and administrators, or broader public policy concerns regarding higher education addressed primarily by legislatures and administrative agencies.
  • The scholarly works to be considered may include books and book chapters; monographs; journal articles; reports prepared for foundations, think tanks, and advocacy organizations; conference papers; and other similar print or electronic formats.
  • The award may be based on a single work, such as a book; on a combination or series of works, such as a series of journal articles or reports; or on the sum total of the nominee's scholarly work.
  • Scholarly work meeting the above requirements will be judged based on (a) the overall quality of the research and analysis; (b) the extent to which the work integrates law and policy, and the quality and utility of the interrelationships between law and policy that the work develops; and (c) the significance of the work and the contribution that it makes to the development and implementation of higher education law and policy.

2020 Honoree

Leland WareLeland Ware

Leland Ware is the Louis L. Redding Chair and Professor of Law & Public Policy at the University of Delaware where he also teaches Africana Studies. He has a bachelor's degree in history from Fisk University and a Juris Doctor from Boston College of Law.

Wares research focuses on civil rights and civil liberties law, employment law, and constitutional law. His book A Century of Segregation: Race, Class, and Disadvantage (Lexington Books 1998) explains how race and class intersect in ways that uniquely disadvantage African Americans and other racial minorities.

He has authored more than 100 articles in academic journals and other publications on various aspects of civil rights law and co-authored two books, Brown v. Board of Education: Caste, Culture, and the Constitution and Choosing Equality: Essays and Narratives on the Desegregation Experience. Prior to his work in academia, Ware was a trial attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice.

2019 Honoree

No honoree was selected during this year.

2018 Honoree

Dr. E. Gordon GeeE. Gordon Gee

Dr. E. Gordon Gee is one of America's most prominent higher education leaders, having served as president of some of the most prestigious public and private universities for more than three decades.

When he returned to lead West Virginia University in 2014 as the institution's 24th president, it was a homecoming of sorts. He was first named WVU president in 1981 at age 36 – at the time, among the youngest persons to ever serve as a university president. He led WVU until 1985 when he went on to presidencies at the University of Colorado (1985-90), Brown University (1998-2000), and Vanderbilt University (2001-07). He served as president of The Ohio State University from 1990-97 and again from 2007-13.

Gee has built a special relationship with the students as well as the state's citizens, making it a point to visit students where they live, learn and socialize -- and visiting all 55 West Virginia counties during his inaugural year – and at least half in subsequent years.

Born in Vernal, Utah, Gee graduated from the University of Utah with an honors degree in history and earned his J.D. and Ed.D. degrees from Columbia University. He clerked under Chief Justice David T. Lewis of the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals before being named a judicial fellow and staff assistant to the U.S. Supreme Court. In this role, he worked for Chief Justice Warren Burger on administrative and legal problems of the Court and the federal judiciary. Gee returned to Utah as an associate professor and associate dean at the J. Reuben Clark Law School at Brigham Young University and was granted full professorship in 1978.

One year later, he became dean of the WVU College of Law, and, in 1981, was named WVU's 19th president.

Gee has served on several education-governance organizations and committees, including the Big 12 Conference Council of Presidents, the Business Higher Education Forum, and the American Association of Universities. He was chair of the American Council on Education's Commission on Higher Education Attainment and served as co-chair of the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities' Energy Advisory Committee. In 2009, King Abdulaziz University in Saudi Arabia invited him to join its international advisory board. In 2009, Time magazine named him one of the top 10 university presidents in the United States.

Gee is serving as chair of the Big 12 Board of Directors Executive Committee for the 2017-18 year. Active in many national professional and service organizations, he is on the executive committee of the National 4-H Council Board of Trustees and serves on the board of directors of the American Council on Education, the nation's largest higher education organization, as well as on the board of trustees of the Royal University for Women in Bahrain, with which WVU has a long-standing academic partnership. A recipient of the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award, he is an executive board member of Boy Scouts of America. He has also served on the boards for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum and Limited Brands.

In 2011, Gee began serving as secretary on the Board of Directors of Ohio's economic development program, JobsOhio. In 2011-12, Governor John Kasich asked him to chair the Ohio Higher Education Capital Funding Collaborative and the Ohio Higher Education Funding Commission. In December 2012, he began serving on the Columbus Education Commission.

Gee has received many honorary degrees, awards, fellowships, and recognitions. He is a fellow of the prestigious American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world's largest science organization. In 1994, Gee received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the University of Utah, as well as from Teachers College of Columbia University. In 2013, he received the ACE Council of Fellows/Fidelity Investments Mentor Award and the Outstanding Academic Leader of the Year Award on behalf of Historically Black Colleges and Universities. He is the co-author of 11 books, including Law, Policy and Higher Education, published in 2012. He has also authored many papers and articles on law and education.

2017 Honoree

Amy Gajda

Amy Gajda, the Class of 1937 Professormedia/Amy Gajda.jpg of Law at Tulane University Law School, is recognized internationally for her work that navigates the tensions between public interests in social regulation and protected expression, including academic freedom and press rights. Her scholarly articles have appeared in the California Law Review and multiple other legal journals and she has presented her work at scholarly conferences around the world. 

Her most recent book, The First Amendment Bubble: How Privacy and Paparazzi Threaten a Free Press, published in 2015 by Harvard University Press, explores judicial oversight of journalistic news judgment. An earlier book, The Trials of Academe (Harvard University Press 2009), focused on the academic expression on campus. She co-authored The Law and Higher Education (CAP 2016; with Michael Olivas) and Mass Media Law (Foundation 2016; with three others) and has published invited opinion pieces in The New York Times, Slate, the New York Daily News, and other national publications. She is also a frequent commenter in print and broadcast media around the world, including the CBS Morning News, the Guardian, The New Yorker, the Australian Broadcasting Network, and many others.

Gajda practiced law in Washington, D.C., before starting her teaching career at the University of Illinois. She was awarded the Felix Frankfurter Award for Distinguished Teaching, Tulane Law School's highest teaching honor.

2016 Honoree

Judith Areen

Judith Areen is the executive director of the Association of American Law Schools. The Kaplin Award recognizes scholars who have published works on education law that embrace the intersection of law and policy.

Areen's second edition casebook on Higher Education and the Law exemplifies this intersection of law and policy. Areen served as executive vice president for law affairs at Georgetown University and as dean of the Law Center for 15 years. She has served as director of the Legal Representation Project, was general counsel to President Carter's Reorganization Project, and served as special counsel to the White House Task Force on Regulatory Reform.

2015 Honoree

Dr. Neal H. Hutchens

Prior to coming to Penn State, Dr. Hutchens served as a faculty member at the University of Kentucky in the Department of Educational Policy Studies and Evaluation. He earned a Ph.D. in education policy with a specialization in higher education from the University of Maryland. While in graduate school, he served as a legislative fellow on the U.S. Senate's Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. He earned his J.D. from the University of Alabama School of Law, where he graduated summa cum laude and was a member of the Order of the Coif and of the Alabama Law Review.

Dr. Hutchens was the 2015 recipient of the William A. Kaplin Award from the Center for Excellence in Higher Education Law and Policy at Stetson University College of Law. He serves on the Litigation Committee for the American Association of University Professors. He is also on the Board of Directors for the Education Law Association.

Dr. Hutchens' research centers on law and policy issues in higher education. A key strand of his scholarship focuses on increasing strains on faculty independence and autonomy, including in relation to academic freedom concerns. An important extension of his research in this area relates to challenges confronting non-tenure-track faculty. Dr. Hutchens has also examined legal questions dealing with college students' speech and religious rights. A key area of his research in the student speech realm has dealt with legal debate and uncertainty over the application of First Amendment standards to student online speech, in both curricular and co-curricular contexts.

Dr. Hutchens scholarship has appeared in publications that include the University of Pennsylvania Journal of Constitutional Law, Journal of College and University Law, Counselor Education and Supervision, Kentucky Law Journal, West's Education Law Reporter, Journal of Law and Education, and Journal of Student Affairs Research and Practice. He is on the editorial board for The Review of Higher Education and for Education Law & Policy Review and is a member of the authors' committee for West's Education Law Reporter.

Along with several other faculty members specializing in higher education legal issues, Dr. Hutchens is a regular contributor to HigherEducationLaw.org.

2014 Honoree

William E. Thro

William E. ThroWilliam E. Thro is the general counsel of the University of Kentucky and an accomplished attorney, academic and appellate advocate. At the university, he provides proactive advice on critical legal and policy issues. As an academic, his research focuses on constitutional law in educational contexts in both the United States and South Africa, with an emphasis on school finance litigation. He also serves as an adjunct professor.

Prior to assuming his present position in 2012, he spent more than 20 years representing public universities, including eight years as university counsel of Christopher Newport University, where he was also an associate professor of constitutional studies. In recognition of his numerous scholarly articles, book chapters, and other publications, Thro was recognized as a Fellow of the National Association of College and University Attorneys (2007) and a Distinguished Research Fellow of the National Education Finance Conference (2012).

As solicitor general of Virginia for four years, Thro was responsible for the Virginia State Government's U.S. Supreme Court litigation (except capital cases), as well as lower court appeals involving the constitutionality of statutes or politically sensitive issues. He graduated summa cum laude from Hanover College and earned a graduate degree with honors from the University of Melbourne. Thro received his law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law.

2013 Honoree

Richard Kahlenberg

Richard KahlenbergRichard D. Kahlenberg is a senior fellow at The Century Foundation. He has been called "the intellectual father of the economic integration movement" in K-12 schooling, and "arguably the nation's chief proponent of class-based affirmative action in higher education admissions." He is also an authority on teachers' unions, private school vouchers, charter schools, turnaround school efforts, labor organizing and inequality in higher education. He is the author of five books, editor of eight Century Foundation books, and numerous articles.

Previously, Richard Kahlenberg was a fellow at the Center for National Policy, a visiting associate professor of constitutional law at George Washington University, and a legislative assistant to Senator Charles S. Robb (D-VA). He is also a nonresident senior fellow at Education Sector and serves on the advisory board of the Pell Institute, the Albert Shanker Institute, and the Research Advisory Panel of the National Coalition on School Diversity. He graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College and cum laude from Harvard Law School. Between college and law school, he spent a year at the University of Nairobi School of Journalism as a Rotary Scholar.

2012 Honoree

Gary Pavelamedia/Pavela.jpg

Gary Pavela writes frequently on law and policy issues in higher education and teaches in the honors programs at the University of Maryland and at Syracuse University. He was a faculty member for the Federal Judicial Center in Washington, D.C. (the training arm of the United States Courts) and served on the board of the Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke University. In 2006 he was designated the University of Maryland "Outstanding Faculty Educator" by the Maryland Parents' Association.

2011 Honoree

Laura Rothstein

laura rothstein photoLaura Rothstein joined the Louis D. Brandeis School of Law at the University of Louisville as a professor of law and dean in 2000 (serving as dean until 2005). She has written 14 books and dozens of book chapters, articles, and other works on disability discrimination, covering a broad range of issues, with an emphasis on disability discrimination in higher education. She chaired the AALS Special Committee on Disability Issues (1988-1990). In addition to her work in disability law, she has worked to promote racial diversity within legal education and the legal profession, and writes and lectures frequently on those topics. She has served as co-chair of the AALS Section on Disability Law, chair of the American Bar Association Section of Legal Education Diversity Committee, a member of the LSAC Minority Affairs Committee, and a member of the AALS Membership Committee. She currently serves on the Law School Admissions Council Pipeline Outreach Planning Committee. From 1980 to 1986, she served as faculty editor of the Journal of College and University Law, the law journal published by the National Association of College and University Attorneys.

Before coming to the University of Louisville, Professor Rothstein was a Law Foundation Professor of Law at the University of Houston where she served as associate dean for Graduate Legal Studies (2004-2005) and associate dean for Student Affairs (1987-1993). Since beginning her academic career in 1976, she has served on the law faculties at five universities. She earned her bachelor's degree from the University of Kansas and her doctorate of jurisprudence from Georgetown University Law Center.

2010 Honoree

Barbara A. Lee

barbara-lee-photoProfessor Barbara A. Lee conducts research on the impact of legislation and judicial decisions on employment relations policy and practices in academic and business organizations in the U.S. and Western Europe. Her work combines field studies and legal research methodologies and has been published in the Industrial and Labor Relations Review, Industrial Relations, Human Resource Management, the Journal of College and University Law, and the Journal of Higher Education.

She is the co-author of Academics in Court, a book dealing with the effects of discrimination litigation on plaintiffs and employer defendants, and The Law of Higher Education, 4 ed. and biannual supplements. Counsel to the firm of Edwards, Angell, Palmer & Dodge, LLP.

2009 Honorees

Dr. Michael A. Olivasmedia/olivas-portrait-photo

Michael A. Olivas is the William B. Bates Distinguished Chair in Law at the University of Houston Law Center and Director of the Institute for Higher Education Law and Governance at UH. He holds a B.A. from the Pontifical College Josephinum, an M.A. and Ph.D. from the Ohio State University, and a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center.

He has a substantial and varied legal consulting practice, including representing faculty, staff, institutional, and state clients, serving as an expert witness in federal and state courts (including the U.S. Supreme Court, Circuit Courts of Appeals, and federal district courts), and joining as a member of litigation teams in educational, finance, and immigration matters. He is also the author or co-author of 14 books and numerous scholarly articles.

Robert O'Neil

media/oneil_retirement_portrait-sm.pngRobert O'Neil is a professor of law emeritus and director of the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression at the University of Virginia. With bachelor's, master's, and law degrees from Harvard University, O'Neil teaches constitutional law of free speech and the press, and church and state.

He came to Virginia in 1985 to become the University of Virginia's sixth president, and he also has held educational and administrative posts at the University of California-Berkeley, the University of Cincinnati, Indiana University, and the University of Wisconsin. Before entering academia, he clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan Jr.