The teacher who is indeed wise does not bid you to enter the house of his wisdom but rather leads you to the threshold of your mind. – Khalil Gibran
I was deeply, deeply saddened to learn that Professor Anne Proffitt Dupre of UGA Law School died early Tuesday morning. Professor Dupre inspired her students because she expected the best and she had no patience for anything less. And, of course, she cared. She really cared about her students. This is a great loss to the law school, but even more so, a loss to all of us who had the privilege to know her.
Professor Dupre and I had a special, first-day relationship. Our section was her first – both her first year teaching, and the very first class she taught. And I was the first student she called on. If you’ve been to law school, you’ll understand that being “called on” can mean (as it did in this case) 55 minutes of grueling cross-examination, standing up (no sitting for Professor Dupre, at least not as a first year) in front of 70 people you’ve just met and who you just know are evaluating every word you say and thinking “Really? She sounds like a complete moron. Did she read at all? Or is she just that dumb?” Naturally, I was terrified. And so, as it turned out, was Professor Dupre. She told me later how she’d worried over that first day, that first student to be called on. What would happen if she picked someone who was unprepared or who couldn’t take the pressure? Her whole plan for the lesson required an interaction, a question and answer. A conversation. So, strangely, she was perhaps as relieved to have picked me as I was intimidated to be chosen. She scared the heck out of us, but she was human.
But I had so much more to learn. When I walked into class that first morning, I’d been proud that I’d even read the cases for the first day (Who does real work on the first day, right?). When I walked out, I knew that this class and this professor would challenge my intellect in a way I’d never experienced before. She made me into a thinker. She brought out the best in me. I’ll always be grateful to Professor Dupre for that.
For more on Professor Dupre’s impact on others, please visit the University of Georgia Law School’s memorial page. For her full obituary, detailing her many accomplishments, see here and here. She will truly be missed.