Center for Excellence Honoree: Jeffrey MeyerProfessor Jeffrey Meyer has a knack for taking some of the most complex and difficult courses in the law school curriculum and breaking them down in a way that inspires and energizes his students.
Meyer, who has taught at the School of Law since 2006, has been recognized for his efforts with the University's most prestigious academic honor, the Excellence in Teaching Award. He was honored at the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Service to Students Awards Ceremony on Oct. 14 in the Recreation Center on the Mount Carmel Campus.
"Despite his heavy commitments to research, scholarship and public service, he spends enormous amounts of time with students, working with them on class material, advising them on curricular and career matters and most visibly, working with student organizations to bring guest speakers and symposiums to the school," said Bill Dunlap, professor of law.
Meyer, professor of law, is instrumental in assisting the International Human Rights Law Society, the American Constitution Society, the Criminal Law Society, the Environmental Law Society, and the Albert Schweitzer Institute with developing programs, many of which are open to the University community.
"While those of us who have had the privilege of taking a course with him can attest that Professor Meyer is indeed an outstanding lecturer and legal scholar, his ability to bring to life to the subject matter of his courses in discussions and programs outside of the classroom is what makes him a truly exceptional educator," wrote Danielle Robinson Briand, a School of Law alumna, on behalf of the International Human Rights Law Society. "Over the course of our organization's three-year existence, Professor Meyer has collaborated with us on a broad range of events, from a speaker series on human rights work to a conference on nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament to a conference in Nicaragua on international human rights, domestic violence and mediation."
Meyer allows his students to use his office as a place to brainstorm and meet, Briand said. He has also opened his extensive network of contacts to the University community.
"I've been lucky that I was tapped early on by some student leaders to be faculty adviser and that has built bridges to those students that go a bit outside of the classroom, and in some cases way outside of the classroom to trips to Nicaragua," Meyer said.
Meyer said he strives to get his students to feel uncomfortable with the assumptions they have so they have to reevaluate them and contemplate how they could think more expansively.
"The key ingredient in my view to law school learning is not learning facts of law. In other words, it's not so important what the law actually is but why it is that way. The key skill I try to work on with students, for better or worse, is to try to get to them to understand not just what the present law is but how it might be different," Meyer said. "If they lack that imagination for thinking about how it might be different, they cannot be very effective lawyers as counselors or advocates because it's only by having a sense of imagination of what the law can be, how it can be different than how it is now that, in my view, the student develops the creative and open-mindedness that makes for a good lawyer."
Prior to coming to Quinnipiac, Meyer served in New York City as senior counsel to the Independent Inquiry Committee investigating corruption and mismanagement in the United Nations Oil-for-Food Program in Iraq. He is also a former assistant U.S. attorney in New Haven who specialized in environmental, financial and civil rights crimes. Meyer was appeals chief from 2000 to 2004 for the office's cases on appeal to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Meyer has also been a clerk for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Harry A. Blackmun in Washington, D.C. and for Chief Judge James L. Oakes of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in Brattleboro, Vt. Between Yale College and Yale Law School, Meyer was a Fulbright Scholar in Ecuador.
"Professor Meyer has always gone above and beyond for his students," said Tamara Sager, a School of Law alumna. "Although he has countless commitments that could make anyone dizzy, he is always there for his students. When I needed career advice or help with an assignment from another professor, Professor Meyer always offered solid support. He is always willing to stop whatever he's doing to give his students his undivided attention as if there was nothing else going on in the world at that moment."