Within three years of joining Saint Louis University Law School’s faculty, Sam Jordan ’98 was voted Faculty Member of the Year by the graduating students. Jordan gives much of the credit for the honor to his Rhodes education. “My experience at Rhodes is what made me think it might be rewarding to become a professor in the first place, and it remains a constant source of inspiration.”
Although Jordan was a Political Science and Economics double major, he also had a passion for music and theater. He was a member of the Rhodes Singers, the MasterSingers Chorale and the Wool Socks. Not only that, he appeared in six shows at McCoy Theatre. Jordan says, “From my Music and Theatre professors, I have been inspired to demonstrate passion in the classroom. I think what I learned most from Cookie Ewing and the late Tony Lee Garner is the importance of being passionate about what you spend your time doing. My experiences with them were intense and demanding, but I cherish those times because they so obviously loved what they were doing and with whom they were doing it.”
In addition to those experiences, Jordan’s Political Science professors taught him not only the value of focusing on individual students, but sparked his interest in law. Jordan explains: “Dan Cullen, Steve Wirls and Mike Nelson were influential, in part because they got me thinking about a lot of things that led me in the direction of law school. But more important, they demonstrated the value of focusing on the whole student. They took a personal interest in me, and I left Rhodes with a meaningful relationship with each of them that continues to this day.”
After graduating from Rhodes, Jordan spent two years in Teach for America, and was then accepted to the University of Chicago Law School to do a joint degree in Law and Public Policy. After law school, he spent one year as a law clerk for the Hon. Milton Shadur and two years as a fellow at Harvard Law School before joining the SLU faculty. Jordan says, “Working for Judge Shadur was wonderful and inspirational, and it confirmed the importance of choosing a job that provides fulfillment. He is now 86, but still works hard every day because he flat-out loves his job.”
Though he teaches at a large university, he finds his experience as a professor comparable to his experience at Rhodes. “One of the things that I like about teaching at a law school is that it provides a relatively intimate environment—our school is fairly large by law school standards, but we still only have something like 800 students total. That makes it a lot easier to develop relationships with students, even though there may be quite a few of them in any given course. In short, it is true that there is a difference in the teaching style that I use compared to what I experienced at Rhodes. But I also think it’s true that there are other aspects of teaching at a law school that compare favorably with Rhodes—and those are precisely the aspects that I enjoy the most!” Even with all his responsiblities, Jordan makes time during seasonal breaks to rejuvenate himself, especially traveling to places like France, Panama, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Arizona and most recently, China.
By: Emily Sullivan ’13