Standing in front of a crowd of about 200 people, Law Prof. Don Herzog felt a little out of his element on the stage of Rackham Auditorium last night, not used to the formal setting for his lecture.
Herzog is more used to the front of a classroom as his stage, where perhaps his greatest trademark is his active use of his desk during class.
“He’s just all over it,” Law student Jennifer Walker, a student of Herzong’s said. “He’ll jump on it, he’ll jump off it, he’ll jump back on.”
Herzog admitted he felt out of place without his desk.
“I felt confined by the lecture,” said in an interview after the event.
Herzog — who received this year’s Golden Apple Award — is one professor who is often the main attraction when it comes to his classes. Last night, Herzog, the Edson R. Sunderland Professor of Law in the Law School and a professor of political science, delivered the 21st annual Golden Apple Lecture.
Though Herzog’s address was titled the “Ideal Last Lecture,” Herzog treated it as a typical lecture during which he discussed women’s rights, opening with a couple lighthearted comments about his teaching style.
“I haven’t actually held a lecture in about 30 years now, so I printed this sort of Socratic method Q and A, but you guys haven’t done all the reading. It’s a waste of time,” he told the audience.
Students Honoring Outstanding University Teaching, or SHOUT, presented Herzog with the Golden Apple Award — the only student-bestowed award for teaching at the University.
Herzog, a professor at the University since 1983, wrote in an e-mail interview after the lecture that the award was “impossibly sweet.”
“Teaching does matter, in a big bad ferocious way, and it’s a great pleasure to think I may be doing it well,” Herzog wrote.
However, students entering Herzog’s classes shouldn’t expect to get an A without working hard.
“Professor Herzog truly elicits the best of his students and the best efforts of his students,” Law School Dean Evan Caminker said in an interview after the event.
Caminker said a former student of Herzog once told him that Herzog “made her think so hard her brain constantly hurt.”
LSA senior Joey Eisman, chair of SHOUT, said during his speech introducing Herzog that the process of selecting a professor began in November and culminated in hundreds of nominations submitted in January.
“Golden Apple Award honors those teachers who consistently treat every lecture as if it were their last time to disseminate knowledge to his or her students and engage each student to think critically and inspire discourses outside the classroom,” Eisman said.
Walker, who has taken two classes from Herzog, said a major reason she took a Law class focusing on the First Amendment was because Herzog was the professor.
Rackham student Zev Berger, who Herzog advises for his Ph.D. candidate studies, said if this were the last lecture he would give, “he would do it just the same.”