Professor Daryl Levinson was awarded the prestigious Sacks-Freund Teaching Award, and staff member Kathy Lovell was given the Suzanne L. Richardson Staff Recognition Award during today’s Class Day Program. Both awardees were selected by the class of 2008 for their contributions to student life at HLS.

“Winning this award means more to me than anything that has happened…in my professional life,” said Levinson. Instead of giving the graduating class advice, which he said he was completely unqualified to give since he was merely a “humble teacher,” Levinson offered a humorous “re-cap” of the last three years of law school by outlining “ten ideas that explain virtually all of law.”

A constitutional law scholar, Levinson joined the Harvard Law faculty in 2005 and was appointed Fessenden Professor of Law last year. Levinson is leading the Law School’s effort to create a more structured program for students who are interested in becoming legal academics. He holds a B.A. from Harvard University and a J.D. and M.A. from the University of Virginia.

Established in 1992, the Sacks-Freund award is named in honor of the late Harvard Law School Professors Albert Sacks and Paul Freund. Recent award winners have included Robert Bordone, Richard Fallon, Martha Minow, William Stuntz, Laurence Tribe, and Lani Guinier.

Lovell is an enrollment officer in the Registrar’s office. She is the 13th recipient of the staff award, and the fifth since the award was renamed for Suzanne Richardson, who was dean of students at HLS from 1993-2004.

Several students were recognized for their service and leadership to the HLS community, and the entire student body was applauded for the pro bono work they have done throughout the year. Although each student is required to do 40 hours of pro bono work before graduating, this year’s class far exceeded that, with a grand total of 296,936 hours.

To conclude the program, Mayor Cory Booker of Newark, New Jersey, addressed the class. He was selected by the class marshalls to speak because of the difference he has made in his community through unconventional strategies, such as living in Newark’s public housing projects for eight years to observe conditions first-hand.

“Before I could go out to change the world…I’ve realized that the biggest, most important challenge is not to change myself, but to be myself,” said Booker. “I believe that the highest calling that we have is not to emulate some kind of superstar…but to look within ourself for truth and to let it emanate from our being. Don’t hesitate…to thrust yourself out there.”

Booker’s political career began when he was elected to the Newark City Council in 1998, beating a four-term incumbent. He holds a B.A. in political science and an M.A. in sociology from Stanford University and was a Rhodes Scholar, studying at The Queen’s College, Oxford. In 1997, Booker earned his J.D. from Yale Law School.