The 2013 Academic Staff Excellence Awards honor staff members representing a broad spectrum of fields and duties at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. John Pray and Mary Prosser, along with eight other individuals, have been selected to receive recognition for their achievements in leadership, public service, research, teaching and overall excellence.
The Academic Staff Assembly honored the recipients on April 8; a reception with Interim Chancellor David Ward is scheduled for April 23.
“Whether contributing to research, teaching, outreach or administration, each member of our academic staff plays a critical role in the university’s success,” says Ward. “I offer my sincere thanks and congratulations to the recipients of these awards. Their dedication and insight facilitates the collaborative innovation for which UW-Madison is known.”
John Pray, clinical professor of law, Law School
Robert and Carroll Heideman Award for Excellence in Public Service and Outreach
“John is probably best known — rightly — for co-founding the Wisconsin Innocence Project,” says Keith Findley, assistant professor of law. “That doesn’t tell the whole story. John’s clients, like his students, have come to trust and value John as a mentor, protector and friend.”
In clinical programs as well, including the Legal Assistance to Institutionalized Persons Project and the Criminal Appeals Project, Pray has spent extensive time debating cases with students and helping redraft pleadings, sometimes word by word. Students have gravitated toward his gentle style, approachability and humor.
Pray regularly speaks to community groups and lectures in both law school and undergraduate courses. He recently completed a six-year term on the Board of Bar Examiners, screening State Bar applicants to ensure proficiency and fitness for the profession.
“It doesn't happen often,” says Pray, “but nothing beats walking an innocent person out of prison thanks to the hard work of law students and colleagues.”
Mary Prosser, clinical associate professor of law, Law School
Chancellor’s Hilldale Award for Excellence in Teaching
“Mary is a fearless and active litigator, deeply committed to both students and clients in the Legal Assistance to Institutionalized Persons Project,” says Meredith Ross, clinical professor emerita of law. “She cares a great deal about her students’ intellectual, emotional and professional development. She gives a great deal — talent and skills, time and effort, heart and soul — in return.”
Prosser helps students feel comfortable, yet challenged, encouraging exploration of new approaches without fear. At the same time, she consistently emphasizes to her students that they represent real people, to whom they owe thorough research into the facts and law, as well as the best possible advice and advocacy.
“My job combines two passions: teaching and practicing criminal law,” says Prosser. “It’s wonderful to be able to collaborate with engaged students as they learn a new profession — and share what it means to help other people with real problems.”
Submitted by Law School News on April 11, 2013