1989 Metcalf Cup & Prize

Frances H. Miller, LAW

frances-millerProfessor Miller’s classroom surges with intellectual electricity. For more than twenty years, she has with energy and rigor exposed the social, economic, and moral components of legal issues. She reveals the great human questions that underlie the precisions and nuances of legal language. Her students learn not only to thread the mazes of trusts and wills, but to understand how the law arises out of the fears and hopes of people contemplating their own mortality.

Professor Miller has the rarest of academic reputations: that of a hard grader whose courses are a “must.” Hundreds of students come to class ready not only to listen, but to participate. Professor Miller often adopts the Socratic method, leading a student from unexamined assumptions or formulations to the unanticipated but disastrous general rule that would logically follow. Students not only learn how they went wrong, but are challenged and inspired to try again. Professor Miller’s unyielding demands for precision and logic are mediated by humor, warmth, and encouragement.

Both in and out of class, students find Professor Miller the most accessible, concerned, and helpful of teachers. Writes one: “Her investment in students’ work motivates them to invest in themselves, and to produce not just adequate writing, but the best work they can.” Former students now practicing law in fields far removed from her own acknowledge her important influence on their careers.

A former student writes of Professor Miller: “She loves to teach. The felicitous combination of love of teaching and academic excellence makes her one of the great assets of the University.”