Faculty, student honored at Chancellor’s Honors Banquet

by Jason Collver on April 11, 2012

Professors Penny White and Becky Jacobs and student Todd Skelton were honored at the 2012 Chancellor’s Honors Banquet on April 9.

White won the Jefferson Prize and was named an Outstanding Teacher, Jacobs received an Excellence in Academic Outreach Award and 2L Skelton won an award for Extraordinary Campus Leadership and Service.

The Jefferson Prize is awarded to tenured or tenure-track faculty who have demonstrated excellence in research and creative activity or who have made other significant achievements that might not be recognized in the usual university reward system.

White is a professor of law and director of the College of Law’s Center for Advocacy and Dispute Resolution. A gifted teacher, White has led efforts to establish new experiential learning courses. She led significant improvements to the curriculum for the center, which is now recognized as one of the most extensive and innovative in the country. A former associate justice of the Tennessee Supreme Court and an extremely influential legal scholar, White is one of the college’s most prominent faculty and sought-after scholars and speakers.

As a law professor, White helps students develop the analytical abilities and professional skills needed to practice law. She also helps them embrace professional standards. She blends practice with theory, giving students a chance to learn by doing. Inside and outside the classroom, she sets a high bar so that students will be well-prepared for the legal profession. She expects a great deal from her students, but she holds herself to the same high standards, teaching by example and encouragement.

Jacobs joined the faculty in 2002 and has taught a wide variety of courses and made significant contributions to the academic field. Her commitment to service is demonstrated in her work as an experienced mediator of civil cases in the Tennessee judicial system—work she does to help alleviate the overburdened court system. She also works closely with the Knox County Mediation Center to organize and facilitate training for attorneys pursuing Rule 31 mediator certification. As director of the college’s Mediation Clinic, she helps students receive the same intensive mediation training.

Skelton is pursuing a dual JD/MBA degree. He was elected by the graduate student body as president of the Graduate Student Senate, through which he organized the first-ever Graduate Student Town Hall. He has worked to increase graduate student participation in campus governance. He works closely with the administration and served on the search committee for the Vice Chancellor for Research. He is a member of the Graduate Council and the Dean of Libraries’ Student Advisory Committee. He was named a Torchbearer in 2010.