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News Posted on March 22, 2010

Recognition Celebration Honors Professor Pérez, Scholarship Recipients

DTAProfessor Amagda Pérez was presented with the William and Sally Rutter Distinguished Teaching Award and King Hall's 2009-10 scholarship recipients were honored at the 31st Annual Recognition Celebration on March 18.  The event included moving tributes to Professor Pérez from students and colleagues, as well as remarks from Dean Kevin R. Johnson, Professor Pérez, and scholarship recipient Maryam Sayyed '10.

Dean Johnson began the proceedings by honoring the King Hall Alumni Board members and donors who have supported excellence at UC Davis School of Law.  He noted that over the course of its relatively brief history, King Hall has risen to international prominence and joined the ranks of the nation's top law schools.  "This could not have happened without the dedication of our community of supporters, and we thank you all," he said.

Sayyed, the John F. Cheadle Memorial scholarship recipient, also took the opportunity to express her thanks to the private supporters who have given to make more than two dozen different scholarships available to King Hall students.  She said that her scholarship was not only a tremendous help with the financial burden of law school, but also "a positive message of encouragement" regarding her choice of public service law as a career.

"I want to thank the all the donors who are here tonight for encouraging us and letting us know that there are people out there who notice, who care, and who want to support our endeavors," she said.  "Without you, we could not continue to do what we do, and so for allowing us to pursue these opportunities, I thank you."

Dean Johnson introduced José Padilla, Executive Director of California Rural Legal Assistance, who praised Professor Pérez for her dedication to serving immigrants, the rural poor, and underrepresented communities as Director of the UC Davis School of Law Immigration Law Clinic and Executive Director of California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation.  Professor Emeritus James F. Smith, founder of the Immigration Clinic, spoke of the important and expanding role clinical education has played at King Hall, and praised Professor Pérez's compassion for the clinic's clients, saying she "has naturalized more people in this state than anyone has ever done." Aidín Castillo '11, an Immigration Clinic student, spoke movingly of Professor Pérez's role as a mentor for her and other students.

In presenting the Distinguished Teaching Award, Dean Johnson introduced Professor Pérez saying, "In my mind, Professor Pérez is precisely the kind of professor that we should have at a law school housed in a building named after Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr."

Stating that she felt "honored and deeply humbled" by the award, Professor Pérez, a 1991 graduate of King Hall, gave thanks to the many Law School faculty who acted as mentors for her, as well as King Hall colleagues and students who have contributed to the success of the Immigration Law Clinic, and her family who supported her, including her parents, who "on farm workers' salaries managed to send their five children to college."

"It is a deep honor to receive this award that goes to the heart of the King Hall mission, which is to train socially responsible lawyers committed to professional excellence, public service, and the highest ethical standards," said Professor Pérez.

2009-2010 Scholarship Recipients