the 2017 Duncan Teaching Award Recipient earlier this month. As this powerhouse fellow Surly Subgroup blogger embarks upon her eighth fall with UK Law this recognition comes as no surprise for those of us who have had the good fortune of working with Professor Bird-Pollan on the many panels she organizes, populates, moderates, and participates in for various major conferences including Law & Society and the Southeastern Association of Law Schools. Teaching requires enthusiasm, excellent organization skills, and attention to detail. We can confirm that Jennifer embodies these attributes from our interactions and engagement with her at tax conferences. In addition, teaching (especially) tax requires a mastery of the subject matter. As fellow tax scholars, we can also attest to this master tax maven. Jennifer teaches it all including basic tax, international tax, estate and gift tax, partnership and corporate tax, and tax policy. Professor Bird-Pollan is the entire tax law curriculum. Moreover, having earned her Ph.D. at Vanderbilt in Philosophy she frames her analysis to these many tax subjects from a justice & fairness perspective. Like her fortunate students, I would love to be in the room where this happens! But as the James and Mary Lassiter Associate Professor of Law beloved daughter’s signage recounts,
the situation is a lot more nuanced than that …
Teaching happens day in and day out with students in the classrooms, hallways, emails, and front lines of tax legal and other services (like VITA programs at UK Law that Jennifer supervises) of our law schools. As faculty, somewhat surprisingly we rarely venture into other colleagues’ classrooms, especially not a faculty member’s classroom or even campus at another law school. While it mirrors the tag line for my beloved hometown of Las Vegas it is an interesting academic truth, “What happens in the classroom, stays in the classroom.” This is generally accurate, except for written student evaluations, which are confidential and seen only by evaluated faculty and her administrators. Nevertheless, the extremes of teaching experiences, the not so good and the very good experiences, tend to leak.
Well the good word has leaked from UK Law classrooms and consistent with our tax faculty community experiences, the not so surprising news is that Professor Bird-Pollan is an exceptionally gifted teacher. “Students describe [Professor Bird-Pollan’s] classroom teaching as simply wonderful. A past student said she ‘made the material interesting and much easier to understand.’ Another student described her International Tax class as ‘brutal,’ and did not ‘know if [he/she] would have survived it under a different professor.” We are not at all surprised that what happens outside of tax classrooms, is reflective of what happens inside of tax classrooms at UK Law.
Professor Jennifer Bird-Pollan we are proud to know you as a thoughtful and evocative tax scholar, an engaged tax community service provider in Kentucky and around the globe (did I mention she earned a Fulbright at Vienna University in Business and Economics in Austria), a fellow Surly Subgroup blogger, and most recently and notably the 2017 recipient of the Duncan Teaching award. You have made a positive difference in the lives of students for a decade at the University of Kentucky, Harvard, and Vanderbilt. This is yet another of your gifts to the universe that pays rich dividends for all. We are so proud of you and all you do, and most grateful to call you our friend.
Mazel Tov to you Tax Maven and Mensch and to the UK Law! We look forward to being with you again soon in the rooms where it happens.