Emerita Chancellor & Dean Mary Kay Kane Excellence Awards

Emerita Chancellor & Dean Mary Kay Kane

[UC Law San Francisco Provost and Academic Dean Morris Ratner sent the following message to the law school community on October 30, 2023.]

Dear UC Law SF Community,

As part of her estate, Emerita Chancellor & Dean Mary Kay Kane generously endowed a fund to support faculty. Using the annual payout from that fund, the College has created three new awards to honor Dean Kane’s legacy of service, scholarship, and teaching excellence at UC Law by recognizing faculty who have excelled in those areas.

Please join us for the celebration and join me in congratulating this year’s winners!

Service Excellence 

Jo Carrillo, Faculty Director of the UC Law SF Indigenous Law Center, Member of the Chancellor & Dean’s Restorative Justice Advisory Board, and Professor of Law: Professor Carrillo, who has ably served on the faculty of UC Law SF for more than 30 years, has played a pivotal role in the College’s restorative justice efforts arising out of an accounting of the actions of its founder, Serranus Hastings. As a member of the Restorative Justice Advisory Board, Professor Carrillo has brought a scholarly, culturally sophisticated, and interdisciplinary lens to a complex array of issues. She has also connected with Indigenous communities, collaborated with Associate Dean for Experiential Learning Gail Silverstein to create legal service opportunities for the benefit of Round Valley and other California Tribal communities, and developed commemorative projects. As Faculty Director of the Indigenous Law Center, she has collaborated with Tribal and philanthropic leaders, other top scholars, and legal advocates, locally and nationally, to create a vibrant new law curriculum, special programming, and ongoing inquiry into the experiences, rights, and needs of Indigenous Peoples, especially in California, and especially around the issue of land. She has also raised funds and grants to support further research, including, for example, a generous donation by our accomplished alum Joseph W. Cotchett which is funding a visit this year by a top UCLA historian who is co-editing a book on legal redress for past harms with Professor Carrillo. In short, Professor Carrillo has thoughtfully and skillfully, through great effort, helped the College confront its past and, in the process, made us a center of higher learning on Indigenous law. She is being recognized in the “service excellence” category of our new Kane Awards, but her work touches every category, including teaching and contributions to intellectual life. In that regard, Professor Carrillo has modeled the same all-around excellence that distinguished our colleague Dean Kane.


Sarah Hooper (’08), Associate Dean for the HPL Program, Executive Director of the UCSF/UC Law Consortium on Law, Science & Health Policy, Concentration Advisor for the Health Law & Policy JD Concentration, and Professor of Practice: Though her Kane Excellence Award is for service, Dean Hooper has also demonstrated excellence on every dimension, including teaching and contributions to intellectual life. Among Dean Hooper’s many accomplishments, she has collaborated with the nation’s premier medical school to redesign the Health Policy & Law master’s degree we jointly offer with UCSF, led the UCSF/UC Law Consortium through a period of great change and with a strategic focus on health equity, maintained a sense of community among a diverse group of faculty and affiliated scholars whose teaching and scholarship touch broadly on health law, supported the College’s hiring efforts in this field, and helped to manage the College’s health law curriculum. Dean Hooper has developed Consortium programming with attentiveness to the benefits of collaboration and interdisciplinary inquiry; events for the benefit of the College community and wider practice community have involved the Center for Racial and Economic Justice, Indigenous Law Center, and others. Dean Hooper has accomplished all this on top of her schedule of teaching and expertly managed grant-funded research work while overseeing and supporting a team of dedicated researchers and grant managers. Knowing Dean Hooper, I’m confident that her first reaction to this summary of her many contributions would be that she is but one member of a team. While it is true that we have a wonderful health law community at UC Law, it is also the case that Dean Hooper is a central pillar of it, and we owe a good deal of our well-deserved national reputation in health law (ranked #11, nationally) to her extraordinary and ongoing efforts.

Scholarly Excellence and Contributions to Intellectual Life 

Scott Dodson, James Edgar Hervey ’50 Chair in Litigation, Geoffrey C. Hazard Distinguished Professor of Law, and Faculty Director of the Center for Litigation and Courts: Carrying on Dean Kane’s tradition of scholarly excellence in the field of civil procedure, Professor Dodson is one of the most cited and celebrated proceduralists in the country. Professor Dodson is part of a deep bench of expertise on our faculty that includes longtime faculty member and Distinguished Professor of Law Rick Marcus. (Professor Dodson also happens to be one of our top teaching faculty and most dedicated institutional citizens, again, as with other winners of the Kane Excellence Awards, modeling well-rounded excellence.) Professor Dodson’s contributions to the intellectual life of the College extend well beyond his achievements as a scholar, including eight book titles and more than 120 shorter works in top law journals, many of which have been cited by courts. He served multiple successful terms as Associate Dean for Research, played an instrumental role in developing the elements of the College’s Strategic Plan that pertain to the research element of our mission, and founded the Center for Litigation and Courts, which is devoted to disseminating knowledge of civil litigation, ADR, and the courts to the bench, bar, legal academy, and the public. Among many other initiatives, Professor Dodson created the Judges’ Book, through which the College shares our intellectual work product each year with judges nationally.


Dorit Reiss, James Edgar Hervey ’50 Chair of Litigation and Professor of Law: Professor Reiss has courageously produced rigorous scholarship in the contentious domain of legal and policy issues related to vaccines. She is a modern public intellectual in the highest sense of the term, sharing her ideas across a variety of platforms, from traditional scholarly articles and book chapters to popular media. Professor Reiss is also one of our most collaborative scholars. She has coauthored articles with, among others, our General Counsel John DiPaolo and faculty affiliated with UC Law such as Lois Weithorn, John Diamond, Veena Dubal, and Elizabeth Pendo. Professor Reiss’s partnerships partly reflect the highly interdisciplinary nature of her work. They also evidence her important role over the years in creating a true scholarly community on campus. Professor Reiss also happens to be one of our most innovative and effective classroom teachers and a skilled and dedicated citizen, having played key roles including with regard to hiring new research faculty.

Teaching Excellence (Full-Time Faculty) 

Jennifer Freeland (’14), Associate Dean of Academic Skills Instruction and Support (OASIS) and Professor of Practice: Dean Freeland manages OASIS, teaches Legal Ethics and 1L Torts, runs the 1L Sack Program, shares her knowledge with faculty via Sack partnerships and faculty teaching colloquia, and tirelessly works 1-1 with individual students to help them hone their academic success and written legal analysis skills. She is both a teacher’s teacher and a student’s teacher. A few examples highlight the breadth of her contributions to a culture of teaching excellence: This fall term, Dean Freeland partnered with Professor of Practice Matt Coles to lead a colloquium for faculty on how to teach the skill of reasoning by analogy to prior cases. Last year, with faculty colleagues Angie Gius and Brittany Glidden, Dean Freeland led a colloquium on how faculty can help students become self-directed learners. Dean Freeland has partnered with many of our 1L Sack faculty to develop incoming students’ academic success skills. She also regularly shares knowledge gained by attending national conferences on pedagogy. Beyond that, Dean Freeland’s colleagues often informally seek her advice on a variety of specific issues related to students, classwork, and providing feedback, among other topics. Her tireless work on behalf of faculty colleagues and students transcends any one class or program in its impact and effect.


Lois Schwartz, Professor of Practice: Professor Schwartz has served as a faculty member at UC Law SF for nearly 30 years. She has a broad and diverse teaching portfolio, including foundational classes in three different degree programs (JD, MSL, and LLM). Professor Schwartz’s teaching is characterized by constant innovation. That spirit of innovation includes creating new courses aimed at ensuring student success; for example, Professor Schwartz helped to establish our Critical Studies suite of classes for JD 3Ls and LLM students and our Law & Process versions of upper division bar classes aimed primarily at JD 2Ls. Her innovation most fundamentally includes teaching methods, including the integration of formative assessment with individualized feedback even in large lecture classes. Most recently, in the past several years, Professor Schwartz has been adventuresome with regard to distance education, creating high quality synchronous and asynchronous learning opportunities for students and otherwise embracing technology in aid of teaching.  She has also mentored scores of new teaching colleagues over the years, generously sharing her expertise and her contagious love of teaching.

Teaching Excellence (Part-Time Faculty)

Rebecca Arons, Director of the Legal Writing Resource Center: Professor Arons has taught LRW1 and LRW2 to rave reviews from students. In addition, she helped to build and grow the Legal Writing Resource Center, a key support innovation conceived by Associate Dean for LRW & Moot Court Toni Young. Professor Arons also serves as a member of the LRW Curriculum Committee, an ad hoc committee chaired by the Director of LRW & Moot Court Joe Creitz that reviews the LRW curriculum and teaching methods. Most recently, Professor Arons has contributed to LRW faculty and broader faculty efforts to understand generative artificial intelligence and integrate it into the curriculum. As with other Kane Excellence Award winners, her contributions to the College transcend the category in which she is receiving recognition to encompass teaching, service, and a scholarly (i.e., informed and rigorous) approach to pedagogy.


James (“Jim”) Wagstaffe, Adjunct Professor: Dean Kane’s greatest achievements as a scholar and teacher were in the field of Civil Procedure. It is thus particularly fitting that we recognize Professor Wagstaffe, a giant in the field and in the classroom as a Civil Procedure 2 and California Civil Procedure instructor. Professor Wagstaffe has been teaching at UC Law for over three decades, during which time he has thrilled generations of students with his expert, high-energy, passionate teaching. Many a litigator now in practice can trace their professional success at least in part to Professor Wagstaffe’s inspirational teaching. That teaching has been informed by his success as a practicing lawyer and his expertise as a civil procedure scholar. Professor Wagstaffe, currently a principal attorney at Wagstaffe, von Loewenfeldt, Busch & Radwick, LLP, has built a successful practice in complex civil litigation, arbitration, appellate practice, and First Amendment law. He is also the author of the Wagstaffe Group Practice Guide: Federal Civil Procedure Before Trial, published by Lexis Nexis, and serves on the Federal Judicial Center Foundation Board.




This year’s selection committee included Chancellor & Dean David Faigman, Provost & Academic Dean Morris Ratner, Associate Dean for Research Dave Owen, Associate Dean for Experiential Learning Gail Silverstein, Professor of Law and Chair of this year’s Faculty Executive Committee Manoj Viswanathan, and Sullivan Professor Naomi Roht-Arriaza.

We are delighted to honor this year’s winners of the Kane Excellence Awards and look forward to seeing you when we celebrate them on January 16.

All best,

Morris Ratner
Provost & Academic Dean
Professor of Law