University of Maryland mock trial team coach Mark Graber is "not a conventional kind of professor" for junior philosophy major Parmida Enkeshafi.
Graber — who is also a professor in the University of Maryland-Baltimore's Francis King Carey School of Law — is a knowledgeable mentor who will "go the extra mile," to help his students, Enkeshafi said. After freezing up and forgetting her questions during her first mock trial tournament last year, Enkeshafi said she was surprised to learn she had been placed on the university's top student team.
"[Graber] said that he saw something in me," Enkeshafi said. "And that really affected me because from then on I did everything I could to prove I deserved to be on the A-team."
UMB announced this week that the University System of Maryland has named Graber a USM Regents Professor, making Graber one of seven people to ever be recognized for a "record of scholarly achievement and potential for truly exceptional service to the System and its institutions" according to the program policy. Graber is the first professor from UMB to receive this appointment since the system's Board of Regents established the Regents Professorships in 1992, the release read.
Jay Perman, UMB president, nominated Graber, and his nomination was then reviewed and approved by "a committee of experts from three different institutions," the system's Board of Regents and system Chancellor Robert Caret, according to the release.
"It's quite an honor and I'm really thrilled that I was selected," Graber said. "I'm really grateful to the people who worked on this."
Graber currently serves as the Jacob A. France Professor of Constitutionalism with the Carey School of Law in addition to his mock trial team coaching positions at both this university and UMB. He earned his law degree at Columbia University Law School in 1981 before completing a doctorate in political science at Yale University, he said. After joining this university's government and politics department in 1993, he became an adjunct with Maryland Carey Law in 2002, became a full-time professor in government and law with the school in 2003 and moved his primary appointment to law in 2007.
As a USM Regents Professor, Graber will perform certain public service for the system, giving an annual lecture at a system institution and helping shape curriculum, he said. Graber said he particularly hopes to shape prelaw curriculum, as he thinks prelaw education is "extraordinarily important."
He is also recognized as a founder of the American Constitutional Development Movement, according to the release. The movement examines constitutional doctrine in terms of law, history and political science, he said.
Donald Tobin, Carey Law School dean, said Graber is not only a great scholar, but is also "incredibly committed to students and the mission of training the next generation of great lawyers."
"As a dean, when you get to see someone who is just a phenomenal scholar and passionate about students, it puts a huge smile on your face because that's what we strive for," he said. "I think that's what part of what makes mark, or professor Graber, really special."
Graber's favorite part of teaching is "watching the students grow and thinking that maybe you contributed an iota to them having a better life," he said.
He has the ability to "make other people around him better," said Tobin, which in turn benefits the entire Carey Law School.
Enkeshafi said Graber recognizes the time and effort that students put into the mock trial program. After a tournament last weekend, Graber emailed the entire program to congratulate Enkeshafi's team on a second place finish, she said.
"[Mock trial] does take a lot of time and it does take things out of you," she said. "You sometimes miss football games and you miss soccer games or so on and so forth but Professor Graber really makes it worth it."
While Graber doesn't "sugar coat" things, his advice is very constructive, and also funny, Enkeshafi said.
"While mock trial is very serious, and we do take it seriously, he does put the fun in mock trial that I think everyone needs," Enkeshafi said.
The system board will make Graber's appointment official at its meeting this Friday.