During Class Day exercises on May 26, Professor Michael Klarman received the Class of 2010’s Sacks-Freund Teaching Award in honor of his teaching ability, openness to student concerns, and contributions to student life at HLS.
Introducing Klarman, Class Marshal Jesica Nachman ’10 highlighted his warmth and friendliness towards students. Quoting her classmates, Nachman said Klarman is a “model teacher” who “made constitutional law come alive” in the classroom.
Dean Martha Minow lauded Klarman as “unbelievably amazing.”
Accepting the award, Klarman cited the careers of Thurgood Marshall and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, urging the graduates to take on social reform. Considering what Marshall and Ginsburg had to face — racism and sexism, respectively—social reform now seems easy by comparison, he said. “There is no excuse for not making an effort,” Klarman told the graduates. Moreover, Marshall and Ginsburg prove that “profound social reform is possible, and it can happen more quickly than imagined.”
The Kirkland & Ellis Professor of Law, Klarman joined the Harvard Law School faculty in 2008. An expert in constitutional law and history with a particular focus on race, he currently teaches criminal law, constitutional law, constitutional theory, and constitutional history.
Klarman is the author of “From Jim Crow to Civil Rights: The Supreme Court and the Struggle for Racial Equality,” which won the Bancroft Prize in 2005, widely considered to be the most prestigious award in American history writing. His most recent book is “Unfinished Business: Racial Equality in American History,” which was published in 2007.
Klarman’s scholarly work and teaching have garnered him several awards, including the first Roger and Madeleine Traynor Faculty Achievement Award for Excellence in Legal Scholarship given by the University of Virginia Law School, the University of Virginia Harrison Achievement Award, the State Council of Higher Education Faculty Award, and the All-University Teaching Award, one of Virginia’s highest honors for excellence in teaching, research, and service. He was elected to the Academy of Arts and Sciences in October 2009.
The Sacks-Freund award was created in 1992, in honor of the late Harvard Law School Professors Albert Sacks and Paul Freund. Recent winners include Elizabeth Warren, Robert Bordone, Richard Fallon, Martha Minow, William Stuntz, Laurence Tribe and Lani Guinier.