Professor Cathy Hwang has been awarded an Early Career Teaching Award, which recognizes significant contributions to teaching at the U through new and innovative teaching methods.
The award, the highest teaching award for pre-tenured faculty at the U, is given to only four University of Utah professors each year. The University Teaching Committee evaluates nominees based on a teaching portfolio, a curriculum vitae, letters of support, and student evaluations.
Jeff Schwartz, the William H. Leary Professor of Law at the College of Law, nominated Hwang for excellent teaching and efforts to engage students at every opportunity. Dean Elizabeth Kronk Warner, Associate Dean RonNell Andersen Jones, and three former students — Connor Bills ’19, Jason Perry ’18, and Andrew Steiner ’18 — supported the nomination.
“By every metric, Professor Hwang is an exceptional teacher. Her exceptional teaching, however, does not stop at the classroom door. She defines teaching broadly and engages students at every opportunity,” said Kronk Warner.
From volunteering to guest lecture in undergraduate classes to advising first-year students on curricular matters to recruiting new students with the admissions office, Hwang is an enthusiastic ambassador for
the College of Law, she noted.
Perry described Hwang’s teaching as an engaging mix of pedagogies.
“Her lectures include a balance of Socratic explanations of cases and the law with a plethora of memorable fact-patterns and hypothetical situations that encouraged us as students to apply legal principles and gain mastery of said principles. Not only were the hypotheticals effective teaching tools but helped create a collegial environment,” said Perry.
Steiner recounted being a student in Hwang’s first class taught at the law school and was impressed by how seasoned she appeared, despite her new arrival in Utah.
“If she hadn’t been candid about it being her first semester teaching, none of her students would have guessed that she wasn’t an experienced hand,” he said.
Bills, another former student, said Hwang often provided opportunities to role play deal structuring and negotiating in her courses, giving law students a leg up on gaining practical experience prior to arriving at a law firm.
“For most freshly minted attorneys, the greatest hurdle is connecting their theoretical understanding of the law and effectively applying the law in practice. Cathy’s approach provides law students with the necessary tools to feel confident even on the very first day of the job,” said Bills.
Hwang has made a difference in the lives of countless students. Perry, who is currently completing a prestigious judicial clerkship at the Utah Supreme Court, noted that Hwang often went above and beyond, fielding phone calls from students after hours, reviewing resumes, calling employers and judges, and even reviewing thank you emails he sent after interviews.
Hwang brought several new courses to the College of Law, including a summer bootcamp Deals course and a new Mergers and Acquisitions class. She also established a new course earlier this spring with Schwartz designed to give students an opportunity to engage with prominent scholars and leaders closely connected to contemporary business law issues.
The Law, Economics and Business Workshop at the College of Law brought together scholars, students, and faculty for seminar-style discussion of innovative and complex topics in the field. Distinguished scholars from law schools and business schools throughout the country presented new papers at the U.
Hwang has served on the Dean’s Diversity Council, she is a faculty advisor to the student’s Business Law Society, she co-advises the Minority Law Caucus, and co-coached the College of Law’s award-winning Transactional LawMeet team.
As evidence of her exceptional teaching, enrollment in business law, the area in which she teaches, has increased by 26% since she started teaching at the College of Law. A recent graduate also made a gift to the law school to name Hwang’s office, in recognition of the support he received from her as a student.
Outside of service to students, Hwang has quickly established herself as an excellent scholar since arriving at ULaw in 2016. Two of her articles, Deal Momentum, published in the UCLA Law Review, and Unbundled Bargains: Multi-agreement Dealmaking in Complex Mergers and Acquisitions, published in the University of Pennsylvania Law Review, were voted by law professors onto the Top 10 Corporate and Securities Law Articles of the Year list. Previously, she was selected to participate in the Stanford/Yale/Harvard Junior Faculty Forum, an invitation that was extended through a highly competitive blind review process.
Hwang received her J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School and her undergraduate degree in economics and international relations from Pomona College. Prior to joining the faculty at Utah, she was the academic fellow at Stanford Rock Center for Corporate Governance, a joint initiative of Stanford Law School and Stanford’s Graduate School of Business.
She recently accepted a position at the University of Virginia School of Law “She cares deeply about her students, as evidenced by the exceptional support and outreach she provides. She also works exceptionally hard to ensure that she teaches in a way that is accessible to all students. Our community is a much better place with Professor Hwang in it, and I cannot think of anyone more deserving of recognition,” said Kronk Warner.