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Student praise of Jacquelyn Bridgeman, University of Wyoming College of Law associate professor, is particularly noteworthy given her equally strong reputation as a demanding teacher with very high standards. These high standards have earned her UW's John P. Ellbogen Meritorious Classroom Teaching Award.
The other recipients are Teresa Bogard, professor in the Department of Music; Katta J Reddy, professor in the Department of Renewable Resources; Leslie Rush, assistant professor in the College of Education; and Lou Anne Wright, professor in the Department of Theatre and Dance.
The awards are made possible by a fund established by Ellbogen to "foster, encourage and reward excellence in classroom teaching at UW." Winners are selected from a list nominated by students, and the awards are based entirely on classroom performance and helpfulness to students.
A native of Worland, Ellbogen established an endowment for teaching awards in appreciation for his family and state's encouragement of education.
A consistent theme in her classes, whether large or small enrollments, is a "tough love" approach to teaching -- demanding but willing to go to exceptional lengths -- and to spend countless hours outside the classroom to ensure that her students learn.
Bridgeman has been a full-time faculty member at the College of Law since 2002, following the practice of law in Los Angeles. She teaches a diverse array of courses at the College of Law -- employment law, family law, legal writing and torts. The first two are upper-level elective courses, while the latter two are required, first-year courses.
"By all accounts, she is a ‘natural teacher,' yet she continually works to improve her teaching. She is also praised consistently for her effective use of instructional technology," says Jerry Parkinson, UW College of Law dean. "Despite her relatively short career at UW, Professor Bridgeman already has been the recipient of the law school's Outstanding Professor award, an honor that is determined by a vote of our students. The college is known for its strong teaching faculty, so this award, which is presented to only one faculty member each year, is a singular honor."
Many of her students also offer high praise for Bridgeman's teaching.
"Professor Bridgeman is one of the best professors at this law school. She is helpful, humorous and extremely intelligent," a student says.
Perhaps one student comment sums it up best: "Of all my professors, I know she would help me no matter what as long as I gave things my best efforts. If I gave slightly less, I'm not sure what would happen."
As a person of color, Bridgeman is continually asked to participate in a broad range of activities across campus. Her extensive service commitments have included co-chairing the MLK/Days of Dialogue planning committee, teaching and developing curriculum in the African American Studies Program, advising minority student groups, mentoring individual minority students, assisting with the development of UW's new Social Justice Research Center, and serving as a frequent guest speaker or lecturer. She has been teaching a voluntary overload as a faculty member in the African American Studies Program, where her classes are as well-received as they are in the law school.
She received her B.A. (1996) from Stanford University majoring in African/African-American Studies and anthropology/social sciences. She earned her law degree (1999) degree from the University of Chicago Law School.