IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law Professor Sarah K. Harding is the recipient of the Illinois Institute of Technology’s 2015 John W. Rowe University Excellence in Teaching Award. The award was announced by IIT Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Alan Cramb at a faculty recognition and awards reception in April and was presented on May 21 during the IIT Board of Directors’ dinner.
Established by Illinois Tech in 2014, the award recognizes faculty who have made notable contributions to their profession and to the university. It is named for John W. Rowe, past chairman of the IIT Board of Trustees and chairman emeritus of Exelon Corporation, for his commitment to leadership, education, and service.
Harding completed her undergraduate education at McGill University in Montreal. She earned an LL.B. from Dalhousie Law School in Nova Scotia, a BCL from Oxford University during her studies as a Rhodes Scholar, and an LL.M. from Yale Law School.
A member of the IIT Chicago-Kent faculty since 1995, Harding has taught courses in property law, international intellectual property, and torts and comparative law, and developed the curriculum and materials for her comparative constitutional law and cultural heritage law courses. Her research focuses on property-related issues with an emphasis on the social and cultural significance of property. From 2008 to 2014, Harding was associate dean for faculty research and development. She has served as co-director of IIT Chicago-Kent’s Institute for Law and the Humanities.
“Open and accessible” is how Harding describes her teaching style. “I’m a firm believer in making the classroom a welcoming and non-threatening place-the opposite of the classic Paper Chase law school classroom,” she says, referring to the 1970 novel written by Harvard Law School graduate John Jay Osborn, Jr. Harding strives to make her students “comfortable speaking even when they don’t know the answers. Learning is a process, not an outcome.”
Daisy Ayllon (’14) agrees. “Professor Harding is a brilliant teacher who connects with her students. Her teaching is not formulaic; rather, her approach to teaching is to engage and rediscover the material with her students. This inspires students to love the law and to seek opportunities that enhance their lives both as future lawyers and as human beings.”
Amy Harvey (’13) comments: “She is thorough in her preparation and thoughtful in her presentation. Her dedication to her students does not end with the semester, the academic year, or graduation day. She remains genuinely interested, involved and committed to her students’ success.”
Outside the classroom, Harding advises students on independent research projects and law review notes, helps prepare teams for the National Cultural Heritage Law Moot Court Competition and serves as a mentor, informally and formally, through IIT Chicago-Kent’s faculty-student mentoring program.
“Professor Sarah Harding is a truly exceptional teacher, advisor, mentor and friend,” says Harvey. “She strives to fully engage her students and open up dialogues about the law and legal concepts in ways that contribute not only to academic success but also carry forward into professional practice.”