Monday Morning Message 5.10.21 The Lighting of a Fire.

Posted 2021-05-10 9:21am

Education is not the filling of a pail but the lighting of a fire.” – William Butler Yeats

“I am not a teacher, but an awakener.” – Robert Frost

Nothing is more important to student success and the success of our great law school than the quality of our faculty.  

Our faculty are teachers and scholars who offer a level of expertise, accessibility, support, encouragement, and interaction that many law schools don’t offer. They not only inspire our students, they inspire each other, and they inspire me. Over this past year, in the midst of anxiety and uncertainty, I have seen courage, empathy, resilience, and grace from every corner of our CSU Cleveland-Marshall community.

This morning, as the spring semester come to an end, I’m pleased to share some emails I’ve recently received about the extraordinary teaching of our faculty.

Associate Dean/Professor Carolyn Broering-Jacobs (CBJ)

“I was a member of the LCOP program, and I can confidently say that my law school career would not have begun at the time that it did if it were not for Dean CBJ. As I attended classes, I would sometimes have trouble grasping certain concepts, and she and Nick De Santis were able to re-explain concepts to me in a way that I understood. They handled every single one of my questions like champions. “ – 1L Student


Professor April Cherry

“ Whether Professor Cherry is teaching Property, Family Law, Estates and Trusts, or a course in Health Law or Bioethics (her primary research focus), she brings a perspective that is so often lacking in our classroom. Not every Property professor will address the issue of humans as property in our country’s history, but Professor Cherry will. Not every Estates and Trusts professor will address enslaved men, women, and children having been passed by will or women having been unable to possess or convey property, but Professor Cherry will. Not every Family Law professor will ask students to research and debate laws requiring women seeking abortions to undergo an invasive transvaginal ultrasound, but Professor Cherry will. Not every Cleveland- Marshall professor will engage with our students on a human level regarding the tragic losses of Black, brown, and transgender lives, but Professor Cherry will. She is a scholar in her own right with deep knowledge of the subject matter, and she is a teacher with great humanity who will not leave out what is so often cast aside by others in the legal academy out of habit, expedience, or tradition.”  - Professor Claire May

“I hear from students on a daily basis what a great teacher April is and that she is always available to them to discuss school and personal issues. Her students are truly devoted to her.”  - Professor Pam Daiker -Middaugh

“ One of the things that makes her so special is the way in which each student, regardless of their identity or unique point of view, feels welcome to share and respected in their diverse opinions. I cannot stress enough how rare this trait is in educators. I, myself, have been in higher education nearly my whole adult life, both as a student in multiple graduate programs and now as an educator. I can say with great confidence that Prof. Cherry has perfected an open-minded and encouraging teaching style in a way I have rarely seen. And I know I am far from alone in this perspective.”  - Elizabeth Sparks, LLM ‘19

 “The number of times I have visited her office hours for help this semester is astonishing. But what's even more astonishing is how helpful she was every single time…. Sitting in her class you will realize how passionate she is, especially when discussing important social issues. She is all around an amazing professor and I'm so happy I had the privilege of taking her!” – 1L Student

“ Throughout the semester, she has integrated current issues of race and social justice into our property curriculum, showing how interconnected racial discrimination and property law is in our country's history….Following the Atlanta shootings, she began class by speaking about how her heart was heavy because of the murders in Atlanta. She further went on to discuss the complexities of the interactions of race, gender, and immigrant status, and the potential involvement of human trafficking as another variable that may be involved in this tragedy…. I have never met another professor so deeply invested in the well-being of her students. She is truly a gift and has inspired me to care more deeply for people in my life. Multiple times throughout the semester, she has reached out just to check in, stating she knows that it has been a difficult term for me.  Professor Cherry is truly a gift to all students, but particularly to students of color, and her unwavering commitment to creating safe spaces is truly unmatched.  – 1L Student


Professor Patricia (Patti) Falk

She brings such unwavering enthusiasm to each and every lecture that I cannot help but join in her excitement to learn the material. I look forward to every class session. Professor Falk sticks to the syllabus, never falling behind…. which reflects the meticulous planning she puts forth behind the scenes. Every reading she assigns is covered in class, and this dependability breeds compliance with the reading assignments….She voluntarily stays after every class to answer students' questions, and holds extra review sessions before midterms and finals….  Professor Falk is the embodiment of a superior law school professor - intimate knowledge of the subject matter based on a prior career spent in practice, masterful classroom time management, and an infectious enthusiasm for the material. It is palpable how much she wants her students to succeed not only in her courses but also in their future legal careers….. She is a shining light in this Zoom-plagued 2LE experience, and she deserves all the recognition she can get.”  - 2L Student

“…I wanted to express not only how well I thought your course was organized but also how well I thought you did on Zoom…, your course has been the best delivered course on Zoom I have had so far…..your course format and delivery were awesome. “  - 2L Student

The past two and a half semesters doing law school remotely during Covid has been grueling, challenging, and mentally and emotionally draining to say the least. Taking Evidence in the fall of 2020, however, was my bright light and provided me optimism in this monotonous remote learning world. Two things are clear when taking a class with Professor Falk—she cares about her students’ success,  and she genuinely desires for her students to obtain a thorough understanding of the law. Professor Falk’s class was structured, organized, and I knew exactly what to expect every day when I came to class—a source of relief in the unexpected world in which we are currently living…. her dedication to creating thorough lesson plans showed me that if she was putting in the hard work, I could do the same. Ultimately, the goal for law students is to pass the Bar, and I have no doubt that Evidence will be my highest score when I take the Bar in 2022… is apparent to me when a professor cares about students and the teaching, and when a professor is more focused on his or her personal career and achievements. Professor Falk is a teacher, through and through.”  2L Student

“ Her teaching style is the perfect combination of both challenging and encouraging and she fosters a very warm and welcoming classroom environment that I found to be extremely conducive to learning difficult legal rules and concepts. It is evident that Professor Falk cares deeply about her students’ academic success as well as their physical and emotional well-being as they experience the many challenges of law school…. I am not the least bit surprised that the two bar courses I took with Professor Falk, Criminal Law and Evidence, are consistently my strongest subjects…..She was so incredibly kind and understanding to her students in her Evidence class as we transitioned to online learning and faced so much uncertainty.” – 3L student

 “….Now that I'm about to graduate and getting into Bar prep studying, I realized that you without a doubt prepared me the most for both crim and evidence out of all of the other subjects….Can't thank you enough!!” – 3L Student

Professor Peter Garlock

“Many times, I was intimidated when he called on me in class. However, over the course of the semester, I realized what a gift he was to me as a first-semester law student. Professor Garlock set clear expectations, he was predictable and consistent, and he did not allow us to opt-out of participation. We had to diligently prepare for class, and he held us accountable if we were unprepared. Because of the rigor of his course, I finished my first semester of law school knowing what it would take to be successful in law school.” – 1L Student


Professor Matthew (Matt) Green

He has this magical way of helping me learn without simply telling me things--I guess he more so guides me into teaching myself, which I always find leads to deeper knowledge. This all goes to say that I've never had a teacher like Professor Green before, and I feel lucky to have worked with him.” – 2L Student

Professor Doron Kalir

Thank you for always setting a model of social justice to me… I am so grateful to have a professor who cares about the growth of his students’ minds, but also their souls.” – 1L Student

Your passion for contracts is contagious and the class was something that I always looked forward to each week and thoroughly enjoyed the readings.”  - 1L Student

 I especially appreciate your willingness to go beyond the course material and discuss contemporary events and how important the law is in resolving some of the issues we face.”  - 1L Student

Taking my first semester of law school online was difficult at times and I’m sure teaching the law online was equally as challenging. I appreciate how understanding you were and that you did what you could to make the semester as normal as possible.  It was clear that you truly wanted to see each of us succeed and that you enjoyed being in class with us each day. “ – 1L Student  

I truly enjoyed your class!... Everything you taught I will, and have already been putting into action in everyday life which is a greater value than simply for an exam.  So I thank you for that and really did learn a lot. I already have a hard time of letting go of things, but I know my contracts notebook is something I’ll hold onto forever.” – 1L Student

I am more than elated because not only did I love your class, but found a love for contract law!”   - 1L Student

I appreciate your willingness to always go above and beyond to help me further understand what I am seeing and hearing. Your commitment to teaching is second to none.”  - 1L Student

 You took a subject I initially thought would be very dry and managed to make it interesting and helped me understand its importance.” -1L Student


Professor Sandra Kerber

She is beloved by students for her strong work ethic, patience and compassion. That students hold her in such high regard is reflected by the fact that in 2019, the Student Bar Association awarded her the Distinguished Faculty Award. Professor Kerber also consistently receives exceptionally favorable teaching evaluations.” – Professor Matthew Green

Sandra is, in my view, one of the most student-centered teachers on the full-time faculty.  She puts in the time to meet with her students individually and provides feedback on their work.  No matter what is going on or what is at issue, Sandra always leads with ‘I love my job’. “  - Professor Heidi Robertson

“ Professor Kerber has manifested her love and devotion for this school and for its students for nearly fifty years. During all that time her efforts have never flagged. Her work has been constant and dedicated, and her students have consistently expressed their appreciation for the efforts she makes on their behalf. The teaching of clear and expressive writing can be wearing on the student as well as on the teacher. Easing up on the effort necessary to improve each successive draft is a constant temptation but Professor Kerber has never allowed herself, or her students, to surrender to that feeling.”  - Professor Steve Lazarus

“ Sandra is devoted to her students and to teaching in a way that I think few of the rest of us are here. She puts them absolutely first and has been fierce in insisting on their priority in matters of policy and school priorities….. I have heard over and over again from students that they love her as a teacher and a mentor.  – Professor Chris Sagers

Professor Kerber is a great source of knowledge, but she is also a person that is in each student’s corner. She is personally invested in each of her students.”  -1L Student

“Professor Kerber is an incredible teacher; she’s engaging and knowledgeable. She is invested in her students’ success as writers, future lawyers, and as contributing members of society. She cares and she goes above and beyond to show it. I can’t say enough wonderful things about Professor Kerber and her class.”  - 1L Student

Professor Kerber is an amazing teacher who really wants what is best for her students. I think Zoom has been a difficult adjustment, but I still believe that I am getting a lot out of class and getting to enjoy the fun that comes with Legal Writing with Professor Kerber. I am very appreciative of how willing Professor Kerber is to meet outside of regular office hours and accommodate for us.” – 1L Student

“From the very beginning of the year, she provided us all of the fundamental building blocks needed to understand the legal system. Throughout the year, she consistently quizzed us on these topics for reinforcement….I am still amazed by the transformation of my writing skills over the past school year. After taking her class, I know without a doubt that my writing abilities are ready for summer employment. Professor Kerber cares for her students immensely, and is always reminding us how capable we are….. Professor Kerber’s lessons have gone beyond legal writing. She has taught us moral and ethical lessons, etiquette standards regarding job interviews and courtroom appearances, and has invited numerous guest speakers to our class from different areas of law to speak about their careers and inspire us…. I could not imagine having gone through my 1L year without her…”  - 1L Student

“Professor Kerber has taken the challenges of the Zoom classroom in stride and provided us far beyond what a solid base in legal writing looks like….. She knows each student in her class far beyond their legal writing abilities and is truly in our corner at all times. I do not believe a single student will leave not mentioning her name any time someone compliments their writing skills, and no student will leave without saying how good of a heart she has…. Professor Kerber is the embodiment of excellence in the classroom.”  - 1L Student

Professor Stephen (Steve) Lazarus

He is a renowned professor with exacting standards: he sets expectations high with his course requirements, and he believes that his students can meet them as he is clear from the outset…. He prepares himself for class in depth, even though he has taught the course many times…. Based on his excellence in teaching, he has shaped the character of the bench and bar in Northeast Ohio and in every state where our graduates practice law….His teaching talents offer the class a sense of comfort in responding as he also integrates the Rules of Professional conduct within the classroom decorum.” – Professor Sandra Kerber

 “For decades... I have seen students for whom Steve is truly beloved.  Called "Laz," by his students, everyone who speaks of him to me always does so with a fond smile.  The kindness that we all see in his nature is communicated instantly and always to his students.  That doesn't say it enough.  The respect that his students have for him is genuine, deep, and lifetime lasting…. When a student is with him, he or she knows that, for Steve at that moment, the student is the only thing in the world that Steve cares about…. His quizzing and feedback to the students is extraordinary.  Knowing that students have to face a multiple-choice BAR exam, he gives his students his own crafted multiple-choice exams frequently through the semester. Correcting each, he then spends class time in going over each exam.  Now, multiply that by the scores of students, plus the extra loads, that he undertakes nearly every semester, including summers…..By his example, loving but disciplined, Steve shows his students that mediocrity is not enough.”  - Professor David Forte

 I have never not looked forward to a day in class with him. He is kind, engaging, funny, and extremely knowledgeable… Professor Lazarus has high expectations of us, and ensures that we are fully prepared to meet those expectations. His famous quizzes are, in my opinion, just one example of a carefully considered pedagogical choice he has made to not only make sure we are prepared for his final, but prepared for the bar exam and legal practice….. I have spoken to many attorneys around town who also had Professor Lazarus during their time at Marshall, and they universally have said that his classes prepared them for the bar exam more than any other professor. In my experience, I retain more knowledge from Professor Lazarus’ classes than most others, and I expect that it will help me immensely on the bar exam as well…. Professor Lazarus incorporates legal and social history into all his classes…. Understanding the history behind what we learn, which is often not a pretty history, helps instill the importance of the progress the law has made and the lengths it still has to go. Essentially, by teaching law as a timeline, rather than a fixed concept, Professor Lazarus teaches us that we are shaping history and are not stuck at a fixed point—we can work to change the law for the better….. Professor Lazarus made starting law school less scary, he continues to make it enjoyable and valuable, and he puts immense thought and care into his teaching, which shines through each class.” – 2L Student

Professor Reginald (Reggie) Oh

Professor Oh is by far the best educator I have had at Cleveland-Marshall College of Law….. Professor Oh also makes sure to apply current events to the constitutional doctrines that we are learning in class, reminding us to apply the law rather than just know the law. Professor Oh also makes himself readily available to students….. Professor Oh really goes the extra mile to make sure that his students have a crisp understanding of what can be very complex material…..Professor Oh avails himself as an ally. He is very open to hosting candid conversations about DEI issues, and he makes that clear from the very first day of class. I personally know several diverse, first-year students who have reached out to Professor Oh for support in this realm because of his big presence at C|M|Law. His ability to educate and make an impact on students does not stop in the classroom. He goes above and beyond to make sure that all students not only learn effectively, but also are comfortable doing so in their own skin.”  – 2L Student

Throughout the entire school year, Professor Oh has gone above and beyond to create a positive learning environment…Professor Oh continuously makes time in his schedule to address modern day issues. Through community conversation events and his course teachings, he addresses both past and present issues of injustice and provides ways to tackle such issues… Professor Oh continuously encourages students to "learn law, live justice".  -2L Student

 Professor Kevin O’Neill

“Professor O’Neill has been by far the most effective educator I have had in law school…. His teaching is so practical. His teaching always focused on the real-world application of the material, which Professor O’Neil backs up with copious examples from his own practice. His mock deposition assignment was the most relevant, memorable, and impactful two classes sessions I have had here.  He accomplishes all of this academic rigor while also being the least stress inducing instructor I have had…. He is very approachable, accessible to students, and very personally affirming. It is clear Professor O’Neill is genuinely interested in his students’ success in the law school classroom, their success in future practice, and their overall well-being as individuals. His good-natured sense of humor and comical fact-pattern writing keep class fun. It takes real talent to make the applying the rules of civil procedure to product liability claims genuinely funny.”  – 1L Student

 Professor Heidi Gorovitz Robertson

“ Thank you so much for all your help and guidance during this class! I cannot wait to take another one of your classes.” 1L Student

“Just want to say thank you to both you and Nick De Santis for a great semester, and for taking the time to help us all on our exam taking skills, etc. This course has been beyond helpful and has been my favorite 1L course.” – 1L Student

Professor Brandon Stump

“ …Professor Stump has a huge heart for his students and a big brain for the law. He is both passionate and patient in his teachings….”  - 1L Student

“…He makes a point to hear from every student in class, and he goes out of his way to schedule extra review sessions and individual meetings with students.  He is a genuinely kind person with abundant empathy. I have never met someone so creative with such a unique outlook on life…. Professor Stump is able to connect social and political issues to legal concepts.  In doing so, he makes class fun and meaningful, and encourages deep thinking about the purpose law plays in our society…   Professor Stump has taught our class that it is okay to be vulnerable and uncomfortable when it leads to personal growth. He is not afraid of controversy or emotion…..”  - 1L Student

“ ….I can attest to his unconventional, heartfelt dedication to his students both inside and outside the classroom…. Professor Stump encompasses with excellence every expectation we place on modern day educators, asking they not only be educators but further leaders, mentors, role models, counselors, colleagues, friends, and human beings….  His feedback on students’ work is consistently voluminous and detailed….He remains constantly cognizant of the fact that students are more than just students; we are human beings…” – 1L Student

“….Professor Stump is very knowledgeable and has completely changed the way I feel about legal writing. His approach to teaching is comparable to nothing that I have experienced before through high school and undergrad. He has tremendously helped me grow as a writer and helped me grow as a student….” – 1L Student

“…Remote learning has also been very stressful and he made it a point to support us not only academically but mentally too. I was lucky to be in his class.”  - 1L Student

“There is no better professor at CMLaw at engaging their students than Professor Stump. Professor Stump goes above and beyond in every way as a professor, but especially in his way of engaging students. The way he conducts his class encourages real participation from everyone in the Zoom to the extent that he never needs to cold call because someone always has their hand raised. Honestly, the best thing that has happened to me at CMLaw is being placed in Professor Stump's legal writing class….”  - 1L student

“…one professor has consistently gone the extra mile to nurture and show up for his students: Professor Brandon Stump….

"Professor Stump used his assignments to not only help his students understand legal writing, procedure, and advocacy, but he infused them with provocative topics that engaged students to question their opinions….. He is forging great lawyers and crafting creative, effective advocates through his pedagogy…..  He gave his students a blanket lifeline: he told them if anyone needed anything at all, he would help them. But more, he reached out to each student and asked them how they were…. He represented a beacon of light and hope at Cleveland-Marshall for students who otherwise felt a lack of support in the wake of a multitude of catastrophic events. Further, he never hesitated to share a personal story of failure or struggle to show his students not only is it okay to not be perfect, it’s impossible. He showed his students every day what it was to be human.  Professor Stump was the one constant I had this year. He made sure I felt appreciated and that I knew I had his support no matter what. I don’t know how I would have made it through the year without him." -2L student

My special thanks to every member of our faculty for your commitment to sustained excellence in teaching and your relentless focus on our students’ success.

Stay safe. Stay healthy. Stay Committed to Living Justice.

Have a great day. Have a great week.

For copies of past messages, please go to this link: Monday Morning Messages

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My best,


Lee Fisher

Dean, Cleveland-Marshall College of Law | Cleveland State University
Joseph C. Hostetler-BakerHostetler Chair in Law


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