This week's Tax Prof Profile comes to us from the Student Bar Association at Western New England:
Each spring, the Student Bar Association at Western New England College in Springfield, Massachusetts conducts an election for its highest honor, the Professor of the Year Award. Named for a beloved, long-time member of the faculty who died in 2004, the 2005 Catherine J. Jones Professor of the Year Award was recently bestowed to Frederick D. Royal, a twenty-seven year tax teaching veteran. Beloved by his students, and known for his entertaining, inspiring, and thoroughly-engaging teaching style, Frederick Royal truly embodies all of the qualities of a great law Professor. Accordingly, it is with great respect and admiration that we, the students of Western New England College, wish to congratulate and “spotlight” one of our own—and one the finest individuals teaching in the academy today.
Most of the current students at Western New England are surprised to learn that Professor Royal began his teaching career as a member the law school’s adjunct faculty. At just thirty-two years old, with a young family and a bustling tax practice in tow, Fred Royal fell into tax teaching almost by accident. When the Dean needed another tax instructor, along came Royal, credentialed with practical experience, an LL.M from Boston University and a Clerkship with Judge William Drennan of the United States Tax Court. What is of no surprise, however, is how quickly favored this new addition to the law school was to both its students and staff. Royal’s natural teaching talent soon became evident, and in 1978, he joined the law school’s full-time faculty. More remarkably, he was named the Professor of the Year in 1979, after just one year of full-time teaching. This extraordinary recognition, coupled with his receiving the Award again in 1997, and this year, places him in an ultra-elite group of instructors which includes only three individuals, including the Award’s namesake.
As with all great teaching personalities, Royal’s trademark euphemisms now form a timeless connect spanning three decades and two generations of students. “Ah, look how pretty you’ve ‘colored’ here!” he cajoles at the sight of a law student’s fond affinity for highlighting the entire text of Code sections... “Ah, yes, ‘day and night, youth and age’... any takers?” unfailingly lures in at least one novitiate tax student. Or, his standard retort to the student in his introductory class who always insists on calling him ‘Fred’: “Sure, I believe in you calling me by my first name. My first name is Professor.” Yet, this rapier wit does not detract from his personae as a most serious and dedicated teacher; his “Royalisms” merely enlighten the scene, making many students who loathed the thought of taking income tax enthusiastic about the subject. It’s this enthusiasm that is trademark Royal: “A teacher must have committed and dedicated students” he said in his Professor of the Year acceptance speech, “and people like you make my job fun. A teacher feels the energy and excitement of his students, and in that way, my job is that of a cheerleader. If I can interest you in my subject matter, then all I have to do is encourage you to use your own intellectual abilities.”
However, perhaps most remarkable of all these things, is that at a time when some of his contemporaries might look favorably on a slower pace, Professor Royal has taken up the charge as Director of a new LL.M program in Estate Planning and Elder Law at Western New England College School of Law. Royal created the program from the ground-up and it is the only program of its kind in the Northeast and one of only a few in the nation. In this role, he has provided more than just excellent teaching, but an opportunity for current students and members of the local bar to gain a practical expertise in the expanding areas of estate planning and elder law.
This year, like every one before it, Royal will send off a small group of his advanced students to some of the best LL.M Taxation programs in the country. They will take with them a wealth of knowledge and a most thorough rudimentary preparation in tax law. But most importantly, they will join a litany of former students, including prominent members of the tax field, with fond memories of a truly inspiring teacher who radiated with a profound commitment for his student’s learning, an unwavering admiration for his professional colleagues, and a deep devotion to his friends and family.
Each Saturday, TaxProf Blog shines the spotlight on one of the 700+ tax professors in America's law schools. We hope to help bring the many individual stories of scholarly achievements, teaching innovations, public service, and career moves within the tax professorate to the attention of the broader tax community. Please email me suggestions for future Tax Prof Profiles. For prior Tax Prof Profiles, see here.