Skip to content


News Posted on April 4, 2011

Recognition Celebration Honors Prof. Tanaka, Scholarship Donors and Recipients

Clay TanakaProfessor Clay Tanaka was presented with the William and Sally Rutter Distinguished Teaching Award and King Hall's 2010-11 scholarship donors and recipients were honored at the 32nd Annual Scholarship Recognition and Distinguished Teaching Award celebration on March 31.  The event included tributes to Professor Tanaka from Dean Kevin R. Johnson and Senior Assistant Dean for Student Affairs Hollis Kulwin, as well as remarks from scholarship recipient Elica Vafaie '11.

Dean Johnson began the proceedings by honoring the King Hall Alumni Board members and scholarship donors who have supported excellence at UC Davis School of Law. 

"In just the past year, we have seen remarkable achievements including the completion of the King Hall expansion, the investiture of our alumna Tani Cantil-Sakauye as Chief Justice of California, the addition of outstanding senior scholars-Angela Harris from UC Berkeley, Ashutosh Bhagwat from UC Hastings, and ‘Jack' Chin from the University of Arizona-to our faculty, the hosting of a session of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in our new Kalmanovitz Appellate Courtroom, and another rise in our U.S. News ranking," said Dean Johnson.  "These are truly exciting times around King Hall, and these things could not have happened without the dedication of our community of supporters."

Vafaie, the John F. Cheadle Memorial scholarship recipient, also took the opportunity to express her thanks to the private supporters who have made scholarships available to King Hall students.  In relieving some of the financial burden of law school, the scholarship has freed her to become involved in the Law Review, the Immigration Law Clinic, and other organizations and activities.

"Scholarships and grants have given me the opportunity to give back to my community, which is the reason I came to law school," said Vafaie.  "I want to really thank the donors for allowing us to thrive at King Hall."

Dean Kulwin spoke about Professor Tanaka's "consistently stellar" student evaluations, his "engaging lectures in which he combines the required information with examples from his real-world experiences," and his "famous rolodex" containing names of judges and practitioners Professor Tanaka came to know in his 27 years working in the California Attorney General's Office.  Professor Tanaka frequently draws upon his many contacts to bring guest speakers to his Legal Writing and Research course and also to assist students with their job searches, she said.  She read from a number of moving testimonials from students who wrote in support of Professor Tanaka's nomination, including one who stated, "Coming to law school, I had all these ideas of what I wanted to be.  Now, on the cusp of leaving law school, all I want to be is a man like Clay Tanaka."

Professor Tanaka accepted the award with characteristic humility, eloquence, and humor.  He thanked Bill and Sally Rutter for creating the award, and also expressed his gratitude to the faculty, friends, and family who have supported him.  He said he felt humbled to have his name added to the list of Distinguished Teaching Award recipients that includes colleagues like Professors Floyd Feeney, Rex Perschbacher, and Edward Imwinkelried, and gave credit to King Hall students for inspiring his efforts.

"King Hall is a great law school, and my appreciation for it is even greater because I attended a different law school," he said.  "I appreciate the collegiality, the friendliness, and sense of community.  I think of my students like a part of my family.  We have great students come to King Hall from all over, and I'm constantly reminded that in the blink of an eye they will become our future judges and legislators and community leaders," he said.  "I want to say to you all: when you do, remember King Hall."

Full list of 2010-11 Scholarship Recipients