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Professor Debra Austin Wins DU's Distinguished Teaching Award

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Sturm College of Law

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At the University of Denver, high-impact research, inspired teaching, indefatigable service and thought-provoking creative work are always on the faculty’s “to do” list. To recognize the role that faculty contributions play in the University’s life, the institution bestows a mix of awards each year. For 2019, the awards go to six faculty members who were selected based on their impressive work and the recommendations of colleagues and students.

The 2019 award for distinguished teaching goes to Debra Austin, professor of practice at the Sturm College of Law, where her contributions are credited with elevating DU’s Lawyering Process Program into the U.S. News Top 10 Legal Writing Programs. 

Nominating letters written by Austin’s former students and teaching assistants portray a professor focused on empowering student success and well-being within the rigorous and intense world of legal education. The letters cite her teaching style, her mastery of legal research and writing, her concern for students’ well-being and her welcoming personality as attributes that make her an exceptional mentor and educator. In addition, students commend Austin for her “growth mindset,” which fosters an environment conducive to achievement by encouraging students to pay more attention to their intellectual and skill development and less to grades and academic standing.

As one former student noted, “Professor Austin taught me what it means to be a professional in the legal community and that although it may be hard to believe as a law student, grades are not determinative of our success. She taught me and continues to show me the importance of treating my colleagues with dignity and respect in a hypercompetitive environment.”   

You can read more about all of this year's winners on the DU news page. 

The winners will be honored later this year at DU’s annual Faculty and Staff Awards Luncheon.