Campus News

UGA law faculty member named University Professor

Dan Coenen

Longtime UGA law professor Dan T. Coenen has been awarded the title University Professor, following approval by the board of regents last month.

The University Professorship is reserved for UGA faculty who have had a significant impact on the university in addition to fulfilling their normal academic responsibilities. The impact may be in the areas of policy development, teaching, curricular change, innovative programs or academic leadership. University Professors are individuals whose actions as change-agents have improved the quality with which the university serves its missions.

“Dan Coenen is the consummate faculty member who richly deserves this recognition,” says Arnett C. Mace Jr., senior vice president for academic affairs and provost. “He serves with distinction in all functions of the University of Georgia. An outstanding teacher, nationally recognized scholar, superb leader and contributor to a myriad of committees, Dan contributes to the university with distinction and integrity.”

Law dean Rebecca H. White says she can think of no person who better fits the University Professor description in every sense than Coenen.

“Dan has served with distinction on numerous committees charged with reviewing and strengthening initiatives at both the law school and the university,” she says. “His exemplary teaching skills have been recognized multiple times, again not only at the law school but campus wide. In mind, what is most remarkable about Dan Coenen is that, despite serving in the demanding role of a full-time law professor, he has found the time to make a significant impact on the undergraduate student population at the university. Not once, but twice, he has been recognized by the Student Government Association for his dedication and commitment.”

Coenen, who currently holds a J. Alton Hosch Professorship, joined the university’s law faculty in 1987 and teaches constitutional law, contracts, and criminal law. He says he is moved and humbled to receive the professorship, especially because he believes UGA’s faculty runs deep with teachers who work tirelessly every day to help students and to better society.

“I am honored to be a member of this faculty and especially honored to be designated a University Professor at a university as extraordinary as ours,” he says.

Coenen received the Meigs Award, the university’s highest honor for teaching excellence, in 1998. Law students have selected him on multiple occasions as the recipient of the faculty book award for teaching excellence, the professional responsibility award and the John C. O’Byrne Award for significant contributions furthering student-faculty relations. Coenen has also been chosen as an honorary graduation marshal seven times. In 2000, he was recognized by the undergraduate Student Government Association as an outstanding teacher for having a profound effect on a student leader. And last year he received the SGA’s outstanding professor recognition award.

Coenen has served as a faculty mentor in UGA’s Lilly Teaching Fellows Program and was a senior teaching fellow in 1999-2000. He was inducted into the university’s Teaching Academy in 2001 and was elected as a member of the organization’s executive committee the following year. Since 2001, he has served as a senior faculty fellow in the Foundation Fellows program.

Over the years, he has served on numerous law school committees, including the dean’s advisory, admissions, and faculty recruitment committees, as well as the UGA President’s Faculty Advisory Committee and the Faculty Awards Review Committee, a group empanelled by then-provost Karen A. Holbrook and chaired by Coenen to review the top faculty recognitions at UGA. Presently, Coenen is overseeing a thorough review of the upper-level curriculum at the law school and is chair of the Meigs selection committee and co-chair of the program review committee for the political science department.

A nationally recognized constitutional law scholar, Coenen served as a law clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Harry A. Blackmun. His written scholarship on state-federal relations, Supreme Court decision making and the separation of powers has appeared in leading law reviews nationwide, including the prestigious Yale Law Review, and is the subject of his first book, Constitutional Law: The Commerce Clause, published last year.

Coenen’s appointment is effective at the start of the 2005-06 academic year. He will retain the University Professor title until resignation or retirement. No more than one University Professor is appointed per year.