School of Law Announces Inaugural Dean's Circle Faculty Award Winners

From left, Annie Smith, Jordan Blair Woods and Danielle Weatherby
University Relations

From left, Annie Smith, Jordan Blair Woods and Danielle Weatherby

The U of A School of Law has announced the inaugural Dean's Circle Faculty Award recipients. The awards were created to recognize excellence in teaching and advising, research and scholarship, and public service.

Jordan Blair Woods received the Dean's Circle Faculty Award for Scholarship, Danielle Weatherby received the Dean's Circle Faculty Award for Teaching and Annie Smith received the Dean's Circle Faculty Award for Public Service. Sara Gosman was the awards committee chair and led the law school through the inaugural year.

"I am pleased to recognize these outstanding individuals who represent excellence, leadership in legal education and demonstrated commitment to justice and community engagement," said law school Dean Margaret McCabe. "I am also proud of all our faculty members who have worked together as a body to recognize their peers annually."

The Dean's Circle Faculty Award recipients are recommended by the awards committee to the dean. These awards honor up to three outstanding teachers and each award carries an honorarium payment of $1,000.

"It was wonderful to chair the awards committee and be reminded of all the ways my colleagues are making a difference in the world," said Sara Gosman, associate professor of law. "Particularly in such a challenging year, I'm glad we are able to take a moment as a law school to recognize the excellent work of each of these faculty members." 

Other members of the committee included Dean Emeritus and Nathan G. Gordon Professor of Law Cynthia Nance, professor Steve Clowney, Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Development Laurent Sacharoff, faculty services and outreach librarian Daniel Bel and communication specialist and stewardship liaison Jacqueline Stites. The 2021 award recipients will form the 2022 awards committee.

Check out the Dean's Circle Faculty Awards video.


The selection of this award is based on scholarship that is novel or inherently excellent, addresses complex material, is well-researched, well-written, well placed, well received by experts in the field, and is influential among lawyers, judges or the legal academy.

"This was only possible because of the law school's unwavering dedication to support my scholarship over the years and the excellent feedback that I received from my colleagues at the law school," Woods said. "I am so grateful for this award."

Woods has been recognized as one of the top 40 LGBTQ+ Lawyers Under 40 by the National LGBT Bar Association. He also serves as the faculty director of the Richard B. Atkinson LGBTQ Law & Policy Program at the law school. His primary research interests and teaching areas include criminal law and procedure, family law, law and sexuality, professional responsibility and constitutional law. His recent scholarship has appeared or is forthcoming in the Stanford Law Review, Michigan Law Review, California Law Review, UCLA Law Review, Iowa Law Review, Minnesota Law Review and Northwestern University Law Review Online. His scholarship has informed many articles in the local news and national media.

Woods is a two-time recipient of the Dukeminier Award, was named as a Harry Krause Emerging Family Law Scholar by the University of Illinois College of Law's Family Law and Policy Program, and has been awarded the U of A Faculty Commendation for Teaching Commitment for three consecutive years since joining the law faculty.


The selection of this award is based on implementing pedagogical techniques in the classroom that engage students in reflecting on their own learning process, stimulate critical and creative thinking, and incorporate formative assessment. 

"This recognition inspires me to continue pouring my heart and soul into my students and into the role I play in their journey towards becoming a lawyer," Weatherby said. "It is a unique privilege to guide my students through the singular struggles of law school, to develop lifelong relationships with them and to watch their legal careers unfold. I am beyond grateful for the support I have received from my colleagues and humbled by this official affirmation of my teaching."

Weatherby joined the law school faculty in 2013. Her scholarship focuses on the intersection between religious exercise and public accommodation laws, First Amendment jurisprudence and its impact on student speech, education law, and emerging legal protections for transgender individuals. Her work has been published in some of the nation's top law journals, and she is regularly interviewed by local, state and national media for her expertise.

In addition to her teaching and research, Weatherby co-directs the school's student competitions program, oversees the school's three annual internal competitions and serves as co-coach of the Arkansas Bar Association National Appellate Advocacy Competition teams.


The selection of this award is based on modelling excellence through outstanding service to law school, legal academy or legal community, which is particularly important at a public, land grant university.

"I have loved leading our law school's public service and pro bono program," Smith said. "Receiving recognition from my law school colleagues is very meaningful, and I am grateful for it."

Smith is an associate professor of law and teaches the Civil Litigation & Advocacy Clinic and Human Trafficking Clinic. Smith also directs the School of Law's Public Service and Pro Bono Program. She and her students have represented numerous low-wage employees in unpaid wage, human trafficking and other matters. She was also the inaugural recipient of the Cole Fellowship, which recognizes extraordinary commitment to securing social and economic justice for people in poverty, at Legal Services of New Jersey.

Smith's scholarship focuses on access to justice and enforcement of the rights of low-wage workers. Her work has appeared in the New York University Review of Law and Social Change, Washington Law Review and South Carolina Law Review. Her project, the Arkansas Labor Trafficking Awareness Project, recently funded by the Women's Giving Circle at the U of A, aims to increase awareness of labor trafficking among Arkansas professionals who are most likely to come into contact with it and to equip them with adequate resources to respond.

About the University of Arkansas: As Arkansas' flagship institution, the U of A provides an internationally competitive education in more than 200 academic programs. Founded in 1871, the U of A contributes more than $2.2 billion to Arkansas' economy through the teaching of new knowledge and skills, entrepreneurship and job development, discovery through research and creative activity while also providing training for professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the U of A among the top 3% of U.S. colleges and universities with the highest level of research activity. U.S. News & World Report ranks the U of A among the top public universities in the nation. See how the U of A works to build a better world at Arkansas Research News.

Topic keywords: Awards; Education; Law & Justice; Points of Pride; Research and Innovation, School of Law



Yusra Sultana, director of communications
School of Law


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