Tony Arnold Wins University Trustees Award

Professor Tony Arnold’s innovative educational methods and “unparalleled devotion to students” have won him the University of Louisville’s 2013 Trustees Award. The annual award, selected by the Board of Trustees, recognizes a faculty member for extraordinary impact on students and is considered by many to be the highest honor the University bestows on a faculty member. Arnold will receive a plaque and a $5,000 cash award and will give a speech at the University Commencement ceremonies in May 2013.

Arnold is the Boehl Chair in Property and Land Use at the University of Louisville Brandeis School of Law. He holds an affiliated appointment in the Department of Urban and Public Affairs and directs the Center for Land Use and Environmental Responsibility.

Twenty-nine of Arnold’s former students in law and urban planning wrote letters of support for Interim Dean Susan Duncan’s nomination of Arnold. When news of his selection was posted on Facebook, hundreds of his former students “liked” or commented on it.

The fact that Arnold remains connected with his former students, many of whom he counts as friends, says a lot about the importance of mentoring to him. He is grateful for the positive, lasting influence of his own mentors, which has motivated him to make mentoring a core part of his role as a teacher. He often goes out of his way to be available to help students. One student described Arnold as “a compassionate professor and mentor that always goes above and beyond his call of duty to see students succeed.” A former student talked about how Arnold’s belief in her helped her to overcome her under-confidence as an African American woman from a western Kentucky farm family. With his encouragement and support, she received a national fellowship from the American Association of University Women and went on to realize her dream of working on agriculture policy and justice with the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Washington, DC. Others wrote about how he connected them with a job or internship opportunity. Many students credited their professional and personal success to Arnold’s mentoring.

His students praised his innovative experiential-learning methods that integrate intellectual rigor with development of practical skills. They stated that his methods should be a national model for legal education and that his courses were among the best they had ever had. He teaches a Land Use and Planning Law class in which interdisciplinary teams of law and urban planning students work on service-learning projects for government agencies or nonprofit organizations. Many of these projects have actually influenced public policy, and one – an urban tree canopy plan for Louisville – won a statewide planning award. His Real Estate Transactions class is structured around simulated negotiation and drafting of complex transactional documents based on real-world examples. Student after student wrote about how they were able to use practical skills learned in Arnold’s classes in the professional world, but also were able to see issues deeply, critically, and from multiple disciplines.

Students also expressed great enthusiasm for Arnold’s field-study land and water conservation seminars, in which he organizes many extensive field trips that take students to the sites of real-world environmental issues, where they discuss them with the participants. One student wrote, “It is one thing to learn about the conservation efforts taking place at the Green River dam in the classroom; it is quite another thing to learn about them at the riverside from the people on the ground. The courses were extraordinary and Professor Arnold really highlighted the intersection of the law and extra-legal disciplines as a vehicle for collaborative problem solving.”

Arnold is not only a distinguished teacher and mentor but also an internationally renowned multidisciplinary scholar. He received the University’s top award for outstanding research and scholarship in the social sciences in 2011, and his publications have been cited by scholars, policy-makers, and professionals over 1700 times. Arnold’s students articulated the tremendous value of being taught by a prominent expert. His obvious enthusiasm for his subject matter has created a positive and effective learning environment, as well as research innovations that are influencing our ideas and institutions.

University Trustee Bruce Henderson stated that Arnold’s “approach to scholarship, teaching and practice is cutting-edge, dynamic, multi-dimensional, and practical.” Arnold states that he hopes to make a positive difference in the world, not only through his own research and public service but also through the impact that he has on the education and lives of his students.

Arnold received his Bachelor of Arts with Highest Distinction from the University of Kansas in 1987, and his Doctor of Jurisprudence with Distinction from Stanford University in 1990. After five years in law practice, he returned to Stanford Law School as a Teaching Fellow in 1995-96. He has taught at several universities and joined the University of Louisville in 2005.