May 19, 2011

SALT Great Teacher 2012: Keith Aoki

The Society of American Law Teachers has released the following statement regarding the naming of Keith Aoki, our colleague who passed away last month, receipient of its 2012 Great Teacher Award.

"The Board of Governors of the Society of American Law Teachers (SALT) announces with pride and sadness that it will be honoring Professor Keith Aoki posthumously with its 2012 SALT Great Teacher Award at the Saturday, January 7, 2012 SALT Annual Dinner in conjunction with the AALS annual meeting in Washington, D.C.

"A talented, creative, committed professor, teacher, friend, colleague, musician, artist, husband, and father, Keith has left his mark on the legal academy and in the hearts of students and colleagues alike.

"Keith’s educational path reflected the fact that his legal analysis and scholarship were intimately connected to his love of art and music.  That made Keith into a risk-taking intellectual who was passionate about ideas and justice.  Keith earned a B.F.A. degree from Wayne State, M.A. in Fine Arts from Hunter College, J.D. from Harvard Law School, and LL.M. from the University of Wisconsin Law School. At the time of his
death, Keith was a professor at the University of California at Davis School of Law, having come from the University of Oregon School of Law, where he taught from 1993 to 2006. He also taught at Lewis & Clark, Columbia, and Boston College.

"He brought his performance art into the classroom, delighting and unnerving students, challenging their assumptions and expectations.  He made generations of pompous law professors and law school students laugh at themselves with his legal comics.

"Reviewing the comments posted by those who knew Keith after his untimely death was announced, we know that he was also a teacher of teachers, mentoring colleagues through the first years of classroom preparation, urging them to be brave in their scholarship, and reminding them that their vulnerability wasn’t such a bad thing."Keith Aoki was a generous spirit, and his teaching, scholarship, and service were the creative products of that generosity, intelligence, compassion, and determination to make the world a better place."

Read tributes to Professor Aoki here, here and here.  A memorial service to honor Professor Aoki will take place at the law school on Thursday, May 26, at 3 pm.