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Emory Law News Center

Honors and Awards

Prof. Fred Smith to graduates: Be part of seeing justice done

Emory University School of Law |
2019 Most Outstanding Professor Award
Professor Fred Smith Jr.

On Mother’s Day, in a new venue and among a packed house of family and friends, 454 students crossed the stage in recognition of their graduation from Emory University School of Law.

This year, the ceremony was moved from the Gambrell Hall lawn to the Woodruff Physical Education Center on the Emory University campus. The 174th Commencement Exercises was held the Monday after and included the official conferring of degrees to all schools within the university.

During Sunday evening’s Diploma Ceremony, several special honors were awarded, including the new Provost's Distinguished Teaching Award for Excellence in Graduate and Professional Education, which went to Professor of Practice Kamina Pinder. Pinder joined the Emory faculty in 2016. She teaches Introduction to Legal Analysis, Introduction to Legal Advocacy, Contracts, Introduction to the Law, Legal Profession, and Law and Legal Professionals. She has taught in several law and business schools in the areas of legal writing, contracts, professional ethics, ethical issues in healthcare, remedies, case settlement negotiation, bar prep, and externship. Pinder is also a bar review lecturer in the subject of professional responsibility. 

Nicole ElMurr, 2018-2019 Student Bar Association president, accepted the Most Outstanding Third-Year Student Award. In introducing her, Sarah Lee, winner of the Minister Gloria Jean Fowler Angel Award, said Nicole has created “one of the greatest legacies a student can leave behind.” That legacy includes instigating the creation of the law school’s first group for students of Middle Eastern descent. 

The triennial Ben F. Johnson Award was given to Professor Martha Grace Duncan. Interim Dean James B. Hughes Jr. said to her, “Professor Duncan, through your advanced training in psychoanalysis and your deep insights into human nature, you illuminate the deepest recesses of the human mind.”

The coveted Most Outstanding Professor Award was given to Professor Fred Smith Jr., a scholar of the federal judiciary and constitutional law. Since joining Emory Law fulltime in 2017, he has become a beloved teacher inside and outside of the classroom. In his address, he cautioned the students about the limits of the law: “Law comes with the fragility, the vulnerability of humanity. …The law only works when people believe in it, have faith in it, and deem the law to be legitimate. … You get to choose what values and people you choose to be trustees for. I hope you'll be a part of justice being done. It really is a thrill when that happens.”

Congratulations to the class of 2019 as they choose those values and enact them in their future careers.