Visiting Assistant Professor Diana Winters makes smooth transition to academia
When Diana R. H. Winters first learned of BU Law’s two-year Health Law VAP program, it impressed her as a perfect transition to the academic career she had always contemplated.
Winters had practiced law for seven years after graduating, simultaneously, with a J.D. from New York University School of Law and a Ph.D. from Harvard University’s History of American Civilization Program. Most recently she had served as an assistant solicitor general for the New York State Attorney General’s Office.
When she set her sights on a return to academia, the Health Law VAP program stood out as an ideal mix of teaching, researching and writing.
The program, through a competitive application process, selects scholars for full-time, two-year appointments in the School of Law as visiting assistant professors and prepares them for full-time tenure track appointments to law schools. Scholars receive a competitive stipend and teach one class each semester.
In her first year, Winters taught an advanced civil procedure course on access to courts. She also taught an advanced environmental law seminar, which dovetailed with her strong interest in food-safety law. Meanwhile, she pursued her own research and writing.
Teaching a class for the first time isn’t easy. “To be properly prepared, to teach a good class and engage your students, takes a great deal of commitment and time. But I learned so much from the experience. The students here are very smart, very engaged. You can’t miss a beat,” she said.
Next spring, Winters will teach environmental law, which will give her experience with a large survey class.
She credits Associate Professors of Law Kevin Outterson and Abigail Moncrieff, her mentors in the program, with smoothing her transition to an academic environment and with helping her network with others in the field, both at BU and beyond. She also counts Professor of Law Emerita Frances Miller as an invaluable and generous informal mentor. Winters expects that her participation in the program and the connections she has made will serve her well as she enters the teaching market for a tenure-track position.
As high as her expectations were when joining the program, her experiences have exceeded them.
“It’s an ideal program. It’s enabled me to gain extremely valuable experience, and it’s enabled me to be intellectually immersed in a wonderful academic environment where I can teach, write and bounce ideas off of some truly great minds,” said Winters.