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Three Willamette Law professors are recognized for their teaching and scholarly achievements

by Jessica Rotter,

Professors Caroline Davidson, Paul Diller, and Karen Sandrik

Brian Gallini, Dean of the College of Law, has announced that three faculty members will be recognized for their outstanding teaching, research, and service through their appointment to new faculty positions. Professor Caroline Davidson will be appointed to the Norma J. Paulus Professorship in recognition of her impressive scholarship which serves to advance the legacy of Norma Paulus LLB’62. Professor Paul Diller will be appointed as the inaugural Roscoe C. & Debra H. Nelson Distinguished Faculty Scholar, which highlights his excellence in scholarship. Associate Dean & Professor Karen Sandrik will be appointed to the Maynard & Bertha Wilson Professorship, recognizing both her scholarly contributions and her continued commitment to innovation in experiential education. 

Willamette Law is pleased to honor each of these professors’ contributions to the College in addition to their broader contributions to legal education. The ongoing generosity of the alumni community makes it possible for the entire law faculty to continue to support students as well as pursue excellence in teaching and scholarship. Vice President for Advancement Shelby Radcliffe shares that, on behalf of the Willamette community, “we are so grateful for the donors who support our faculty with their philanthropy - their gifts are an investment in excellence in teaching, research, and service. These exceptional faculty will be an important part of the College of Law and our students’ success for years to come.”

With gratitude to the donors who have made it possible to honor these three professors, the College of Law looks forward to the impact these appointments will have on the law school. 

Caroline Davidson - Norma J. Paulus Professorship 

Professor Caroline Davidson will be appointed to the Norma J. Paulus Professorship. This Professorship was established in 2011 from funds contributed by both Norma Paulus, LLB’62, as well as Fred Paulus JD’26, who was the uncle of Norma Paulus’s husband. Although she did not graduate from college, after working as a legal secretary for two Oregon Supreme Court Justices, she decided to attend law school. She graduated from Willamette Law with Honors before practicing for several years. As a state representative in the early 70s, she was instrumental in the enactment of Oregon’s Bottle Bill as well as in Oregon’s ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment. She was also the first woman elected to statewide office in Oregon, serving as secretary of state from 1977-1985. She went on to serve as Superintendent of Public Instruction for almost a decade, as well as serving in a wide variety of other public interest roles. Paulus was an active alumnus at Willamette for the duration of her career, serving on the Willamette Board of Trustees from 1978 to 2005, and became a Life Trustee. 

In honor of Paulus’ pioneering work in the law, and consistent with stewarding the legacy of that work, Professor Davidson’s five-year appointment recognizes that her teaching and scholarly work advances the legacy of Norma Paulus’ career.

Davidson joined the College of Law in 2008 bringing extensive international experience. Davidson is an internationally renowned scholar and focuses her research on international and comparative criminal law and human rights. As a visiting scholar at the University of Chile from 2017-19, she conducted field research on domestic Chilean prosecutions for dictatorship-era atrocities. In recent years she has focused on sexual and gender-based violence. She received a Fulbright award and spent the 2023 spring semester in Colombia conducting research on the treatment of sexual and gender-based violence in Colombian courts. In particular, her work compares the approach toward sexual and gender-based violence taken at the Special Jurisdiction for Peace, a special transitional justice mechanism established as part of the Colombian peace agreement, with that of the ordinary criminal justice system. Recognizing how her scholarship has contributed significantly to the national and international legal canon, Davidson received the College of Law’s 2023 Robert L. Misner Award for Faculty Scholarship. American University Law Review, Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law, Columbia Human Rights Law Review, Cardozo Law Review, and St. John’s Law Review–to name but a few illustrative examples. 

“Across Professor Davidson’s career, she has consistently made impressive contributions to the national scholarly dialogue, to hundreds of fortunate students in the classroom, and to College of Law and University service. I am so pleased to announce this appointment in recognition of those contributions alongside those she no doubt will make in the years ahead,” shares Gallini.

Paul Diller - Roscoe C. & Debra H. Nelson Distinguished Faculty Scholar 

Professor Paul Diller will be the inaugural Roscoe C. & Debra H. Nelson Distinguished Faculty Scholar. The Roscoe C. & Debra H. Nelson Distinguished Faculty Scholar position was generously funded by the Nelsons to recognize and support the College of Law’s excellence in faculty scholarship. Roscoe Nelson III JD’73 worked for the Multnomah County D.A.’s office before practicing with his father at Nelson and Nelson, where he still practices today. Roscoe Nelson’s father, Roscoe Nelson Jr., served as an important mentor, friend, and business partner — an inspiration for Roscoe Nelson’s commitment to giving back to the legal community. His father’s lifetime of legal excellence and countless examples of fearless public advocacy are a shining example of Willamette’s motto “Not unto ourselves alone are we born.” The Nelsons’ generosity will allow the College of Law to honor faculty members, such as Diller, for years to come. More immediately, their investment in the College of Law will assist in supporting Diller’s ongoing scholarly work, which will benefit students, faculty, and the legal community. 

Diller joined the College of Law in 2005 and has taught courses in property, state and local government, and public health law. He also is the Director of the Certificate in Law & Government. Diller has written extensively about state preemption of local authority, as well as the structures underlying that dynamic, such as partisan gerrymandering. Most recently, he has examined the constitutional and other legal issues that have arisen in states’ and cities’ responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in their use of emergency authority. 

This five-year appointment both celebrates and supports Professor Diller’s work, which has been downloaded thousands of times, has been cited by courts and other scholars alike, and has been published in a range of top law reviews, including the University of Richmond Law Review, Washington University Law Review, Georgetown Law Journal, Stanford Law Review, University of Chicago Law Review, and the Boston University Law Review. This year alone, Diller has published two articles including “Emergency Rule: A New Paradigm for State and Local Governance?” in the Fordham Urban Law Journal and “Training a Public Accommodations Lens on Vaccine Passports” in the Lewis & Clark Law Review. As a dedicated scholar, Diller’s research made a significant impact on the legal community. 

“It is an overwhelming privilege to recognize Professor Diller, whose transformative scholarship has appeared in an impressive number of journals across his distinguished career. The care with which he approaches his work is both commendable and admirable, and I look forward to continuing to follow and support his important work,” Gallini says. 

Karen Sandrik - Maynard & Bertha Wilson Professorship

Associate Dean & Professor of Law Karen Sandrik will be appointed to the Maynard & Bertha Wilson Professorship. The position was established in 1993 for the benefit of the College of Law. Maynard Wilson JD’40 practiced law for forty years in Cottage Grove, Oregon. As a pillar of his community, Wilson and his wife, Bertha, devoted their lives to giving back, which inspired their ongoing generosity to the Willamette Law community. In honor of their memories, this five-year appointment both celebrates and supports Sandrik’s academic work and her commitment to advancing the College of Law’s instructional program in experiential education. 

Sandrik joined the College’s faculty in 2012 and currently serves as Associate Dean for Faculty and a Professor of Law. Sandrik teaches courses on contracts, secured transactions, sales, deals, IP Law, patent law, and IP transfer. An exceptional scholar, Sandrik’s research focuses on the intersection of commercial law and intellectual property. Most recently, her writing seeks to address problems with patent law, specifically patent licensing, patent damages, and innovation incentives, by employing the lens of contract law and the Uniform Commercial Code. Her work has appeared in a variety of top journals, including the Tulane Law Review, SMU Law Review, Louisiana Law Review, and Miami Law Review, among others.

In her commitment to expanding the College’s experiential education offerings, Sandrik continues to look for innovative ways to incorporate experiential components to existing courses alongside building out new experiential courses. In the fall of 2022, Sandrik co-taught a one-of-a-kind Intellectual Property Law and Practice course with Professor Andrew Gilden which was a highlight amongst students. 

That course was only the most recent example of her creative and innovative work in the legal classroom.  Her extremely popular “Deals” class frames legal issues around transactions rather than doctrinal areas. She brings in outside lawyers, bankers, accountants, real estate professionals and other business experts to provide case studies and context. Students examine deals including family succession plans, joint collaborations between a biotech and a pharmaceutical company, and an acquisition of a software company. The course quickly became a popular draw after it was first launched in 2018, and boasts long waiting lists of interested students every time it is offered. 

Gallini emphasizes that “it’s nearly impossible to convey in just a few sentences how big of an impact Dean Sandrik has had on our institution. I hope this new appointment helps to both recognize and celebrate that impact, particularly as it relates to supporting her creative efforts to help our students develop the skills necessary to be successful in the practice of law.”

About Willamette University College of Law

Willamette University College of Law was the first law school to open in the Pacific Northwest. Building on deep historic roots, we focus with pride on educating the next generation of problem-solving lawyers and leaders. Our location in Salem, Oregon, directly across the street from the Oregon State Capitol and Supreme Court, cannot be matched in the region. Our thought-leading scholars advance and promote our shared responsibility to make a difference in society, placing justice, fairness, and equality at the heart of everything we do.

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