Prof. Stefano Moscato Wins 2024 Rutter Award for Teaching Excellence

Current and former students say Professor Stefano Moscato nurtured a sense of confidence and belonging, while also making lessons relevant and engaging. His message to students at the award ceremony: “My number-one priority when I walk into the classroom at the beginning of the semester and when I walk out at the end is to see you succeed.”

Whether unpacking dense legal subjects with fun animated slides or devoting time as a tutor and mentor outside the classroom, students say Professor Stefano Moscato has gone the extra mile to help them succeed in law school and beyond.

“Professor Moscato embodies the essence of what makes a great educator,” said former student Adriana Mendez ’18, now senior privacy counsel at Backblaze, a cloud-based data storage company. “He not only teaches the law but instills the values and critical thinking skills necessary to navigate it successfully.”

Moscato, winner of the 2024 Rutter Award for Teaching Excellence at UC Law SF, was praised at an award ceremony on April 4 for his creative teaching methods and efforts to ensure all students get the support they need to thrive in law school.

The Rutter Award recipient is chosen each year by a four-person committee, including a student, recent alum, the provost & academic dean, and the prior year’s winner.

Last year’s winner, Professor Alina Ball, credited Moscato’s “rare gift” for making complex concepts accessible and going above and beyond to help first-generation and other students conquer obstacles and gain self-confidence.

“Stefano recognizes that education is not just about imparting knowledge. It’s about empowering individuals to reach their fullest potential,” Ball said.

Former student Nora Katz ’23, now an employment lawyer at Matern Law Group, agreed: “When I think about who was there for me during [law school], who never gave up on me, who mirrored back to me things that maybe I didn’t see in myself, [Moscato is] at the top of the list.”

Moscato’s approach to legal education mirrors the values of UC Law SF, where he has taught for the last 13 years. He believes that students from every background should feel heard, supported, challenged, and know what’s expected of them.

“I want you to feel like you belong,” Moscato said to students at the ceremony. “I’m more than just your teacher. I’m your mentor. I care about you equally. I’m always there for you.”

Colleagues and former students noted how Moscato works with students in the law school’s Legal Education Opportunity Program (LEOP), which provides resources and support for those from adverse backgrounds, offering one-on-one meetings and feedback that his former students said was motivating and empowering.

Provost & Academic Dean Morris Ratner presents Professor Stefano Moscato with the 2024 Rutter Award for Teaching Excellence. Ratner says Stefano brings a scholarly rigor to ideas for improving the learning experience in classrooms and academic programs.

“He always gave me the space to express my thoughts, and he always took his students’ feedback to heart,” said Adriana Barajas ’22, now a Staff Attorney at Eviction Defense Collaborative. “That’s one of the best qualities an educator can have, especially [when working with] first-generation students and students of color.”

Moscato started teaching as a visiting professor at UC Law SF in 2011 and joined the full-time faculty in 2013. He served on a committee in 2016 that helped improve bar passage support for law students. From 2017 to 2022, he served as Associate Dean for Academic Skills Instruction and Support, helping develop programs that bolster student success.

“Professor Moscato has brought a scholarly rigor to thinking about how to design educational experiences for students both at the classroom level and at the academic program level,” said Provost & Academic Dean Morris Ratner.

As a legal education “renaissance man,” Moscato has taught many different courses at UC Law SF, including Wills & Trusts, Federal Courts, Professional Responsibility, Employment Discrimination, California Civil Procedure, Taking / Defending Depositions, and Civil Procedure I and II.

At the ceremony, Moscato thanked his students and colleagues for their support and acknowledgment.

Speaking to students, he said: “I do my best to try to help you in shaping your sense of yourself as a learner, to push you to understand the material a little more deeply, a little more consciously than maybe you had when you walked in. My number-one priority when I walk into the classroom at the beginning of the semester and when I walk out at the end is to see you succeed. It really makes me feel like I have purpose if I see you succeed.”

Founded by law-guide publisher William Rutter in 1979, the Rutter Award honors outstanding professors at California’s top law schools. The Rutter Endowment provides UC Law SF an annual award of $10,000 for its winner.