Students choose professor of the year
The UH Law Center student body has selected professor Sapna Kumar as “Faculty of the Year.”
“I pride myself as a teacher, and I hoped that I would one day be recognized, but it came as a surprise for me to win the award before I was tenured,” Kumar said.
“I taught fewer classes this year than usual, so not as many students had taken one of my classes. Several of my property students said they had lobbied on my behalf, so I felt deeply honored.”
Kumar joined the UHLC faculty in 2009, teaching property, patent and administrative law. Prior to beginning her career at the Law Center, she clerked for Judge Kenneth F. Ripple of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals; conducted research as a faculty fellow at the Duke University School of Law and practiced with two law firms.
“Professor Kumar was one of the best professors I had in law school,” said Tamecia Glover-Harris, former student of Professor Kumar’s property’s class.” I liked her no-nonsense approach to teaching.”
Glover-Harris said Kumar begins the semester with helpful information including job and internship advice, news and tips. She then teaches the course and leaves the students with “Kumar’s Takeaways” — a summary of what the students are supposed to learn, Harris said.
The summaries help first year students to distinguish what they understood and what they needed more assistance understanding. Kumar is always available during office hours and willing to schedule outside her traditional office hours to accommodate students.
“Students learn in all sorts of ways. Some do best listening to a lecture multiple times, some listen by working problems, and others need charts and diagrams. I try to accommodate a variety of learning styles,” Kumar said.
“I want my first-year students to remember my poor singing skills. I try to sing a property-related song each class.”
She said she believes exams should be a learning opportunity, allowing students to request a copy of their graded exam for review during office hours. The exam can then be used as study material for the next year’s classes.
“For all of my exams, after the grades are turned in, I will send an email to the class with a copy of the essay questions, an exam memo, and two to three top answers,” she said.
What stands out about professor Kumar is her desire to see her students succeed, said Marcella Burke, former student and research assistant for Kumar.
“One of the most pressing needs for law students in an increasingly-comparative legal market is mentorship. Fortunately, professors like Kumar are eager to take the time to advise, and in many cases, promote her students in the greater legal community.”
Kumar makes an effort to support her students not only in the classroom setting, but outside the classroom as well, Harris said.
“She would attend student events to mingle. This gave us a chance to see her as a person, not just our professor,” Harris said.
Kumar helps students with the Student Bar Association, class schedule planning and by providing tips for students to maintain success throughout law school.
“I want students to remember that I am invested not just in their success in my class, but in their legal career,” Kumar said. “I hope that my students know they can always come to me for legal advice.”
Kumar said she enjoys having a job where she gets paid to do what she loves and hopes that the law schools will come to recognize the importance of both teaching and research.
“Professor Kumar is a tireless advocate for the success of her students,” Burke said. “She is both a friend and a mentor; someone whom I very much admire. She is not only an excellent teacher, but she has also been a pillar beneath my success in law school.”