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Famous: The Extraordinary Career of
David L. Cohen L’81
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“I do this because I love to teach,” he says. “And because a freshman seminar, taught in a manner akin to a good law school seminar, has an enormously positive effect on undergraduate students (for example, reading texts carefully, taking a point of view and defending it, perfecting the ancient art of rhetoric, enhancing writing skills). I also do it to set an example: even the most senior professor should take some responsibility for the education of undergraduates. Another benefit is that a high level administrator can learn first hand about the issues that concern students, getting feedback as to whether highly touted initiatives actually are beneficial to them.”
He is the author of four books: Educational Policy and the Law (4 th edition), with David L. Kirp, Rachel Moran, and Betsy Levin (West Publishing, 2001); Gender Justice, with David L. Kirp and Marlene Franks (Chicago Press, 1986); Legal Deskbook for Administrators of Independent Colleges and Universities (ed. Revised editions, 1984, 1988); and When Government Speaks: Politics, Law, and Government Expression in America (University of California Press, 1983)
The University of Texas System has 15 campuses, including nine academic and six health institutions, an enrollment of more than 160,000 students, more than 84,000 employees and an annual operating budget of $6.45 billion. Yudof believes that it was his law school education that prepared him for the enormity of the task he is taking on.
“You learn to listen carefully. To pay attention to facts, to analyze problems, to marshal arguments, and to think conceptually,” he says. “Law is a genuinely intellectual activity as well as a profession. While one often forgets specific legal doctrines from one’s law school days, the apparatus for learning to learn remains with you. I also had great mentors like Jim Freedman, Bob Gorman, and Paul Mishkin (former Penn Law professors).
It was a mentor that once told Yudof that “great universities need to be nurtured, not managed.” Building on that belief, Yudof continues, “In the end, it is creative and thinking students, faculty and staff that determine the greatness of a higher education institution.”
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