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Drake Law School: 150 Years of Preparing Students: Outstanding Faculty

Cole's Vision

"Under [Cole's] influence and leadership, faculty included prominent members of the bench and bar. That legacy was sustained by future faculty and deans by hiring faculty with practice experience and a strong level of comfort with the bar in addition to academic credentials and promise of scholarship.”
— David S. Walker, Teaching and Learning Professionalism in the First Year with Some Thoughts on the Role of the Dean, 40 U. Tol. L. Rev. 421, 448 (2009).


Drake Law School prides itself on having an accessible faculty and staff - so much so that it is part of the school's mission statement (published under the Welcome to Drake Law School heading). Contemporary student comments support that view. For instance, the 2015 Princeton Review's The Best 169 Law Schools quotes students: "A core of 'very approachable, knowledgeable' professors who boast 'a lot of real world experience' form the backbone of the no-nonsense, 'meat and potato' academics at Drake."

Drake Law School Dean Tollefson holds class in his living room, July 23, 1962

An injury in 1962 did not prompt Dean Tollefson to cancel classes—just move them to his living room.

Professor Shontavia Johnson meets with a Drake Law student.

Professor Shontavia Johnson meets with a student in her office. (2014)

Professor Neil Hamilton at Drake Law Woman Professor Auction 1984

Professor Neil Hamilton auctions off items at the 1984 Drake Law Women auction, which raises money for the emergency fund for law students. 


Cole himself was awarded a pension for distinguished scholars from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching (at page 448). Current faculty are well regarded for their teaching, public service, and scholarship, as the following examples show. See the linked faculty profiles to read more about these and other Drake Law faculty members.


Provost Ron Troyer presents Prof. Laurie Dore a university-wide award for teaching excellence.

Provost Ron Troyer presents Drake Law Professor Laurie Doré the Madelyn Levitt Teacher of the Year Award in 2009.



NAACP Des Moines Branch President Arnold Woods presents Drake Law Professors Russell Lovell and David Walker with the President’s Committee of the Year Award in 2014 for their work on the Legal Redress Committee.



Drake Law Prof. Melissa Weresh with retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.

Law Professor Melissa Weresh visits with retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor after Weresh received the 2009 Warren E. Burger Writing Competition Prize.


Although this guide only covers Drake Law's first 150 years, more recent faculty successes can be found in the Law School's news releases.

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