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Daniel E. Smith

Daniel E. Smith

Assistant Professor

“Teaching has enabled me to share knowledge and help students develop essential knowledge and skills—communication, leadership and assessment—as well as advise them regarding career goals and related choices.”

Degrees Held:

  • ABD Political Science – Rutgers University
  • J.D. – University of Virginia, 1988
  • B.A. – College of William & Mary, 1985

Career Highlights:

I practiced telecommunications and administrative law in Washington, D.C., for eight years (before and after graduate school). In that job, I represented ProNet, then the leading medical paging company in the U.S. and was on the small team filing appellate briefs before the 5th and 8th Circuits challenging the Telecommunications Act of 1996. I did much of the licensing work for the early stages of what is now T-Mobile and worked with several experimental high-tech communications projects.

In law school, I worked for the university’s legal counsel during the South Africa divestment protests and helped develop a student organization policy that became a leading strategy for universities nationally.

A project I started as an undergraduate and expanded in graduate school led to my first publication — a study of western political theory manifested in the early biblical texts — and participation by invitation to the first conference on Political Hebraism in Jerusalem, Israel.

Professionally, my primary specialty is in constitutional law, with emphases in civil liberties, criminal trial rights and constitutional law of elections, but I have developed significant experience in voter suppression and in political science pedagogy. I have published multiple book chapters addressing voting restrictions in the 21st century and, in addition to over a dozen publications and conference presentations on pedagogy, I have developed a virtual Supreme Court site currently being used in several of my advanced courses.

In which online program(s) do you teach?

B.S. in Criminology

In what ways do you connect with online students?

Pretty much the standard tools; Zoom, online chat through the CMS (Canvas) and email. I’m open to alternative means of communication.

What do you want your students to take away from class?

Focusing specifically on rights of the accused and similar courses and identification of the core constitutional, statutory and administrative rights. An understanding of the central role of judges in determining and shaping the parameters of those rights, and the discretion judges have in the legal system — students get at this outcome by “doing” in the extensive simulations we use in the class. Additional learning outcomes address group dynamics and leadership skills. Even as an online class, there will be team components paralleling the face-to-face course, in which students are divided into working law firms.

Why did you start teaching?

In law practice, I was rarely able to help individuals achieve their professional and other goals. Teaching has enabled me to share knowledge and help students develop essential knowledge and skills—communication, leadership and assessment—as well as advise them regarding career goals and related choices.

What advice would you give to your online students?

Online is different than traditional face-to-face classes. It is relatively easy to go through the motions, especially if your goal is to simply obtain the degree. If you want to get the most out of your classes, you need to be engaged, and on more than a superficial level. Your instructors are taking on significant additional work and many classes are being designed from scratch to accommodate you, your schedule and your career goals. Take advantage of their knowledge, expertise and experience. If you want to make an impact and learn more, set as a goal to work your assigned readings and/or lecture contents into the class discussions. That’s the common thread in sharing information and developing a learning community online.

What qualities make someone particularly successful in the field in which you teach?

Passion about the subject and caring about the students. Everything else is secondary and driven by these two qualities. You don’t even have to be a dynamic speaker. If you believe in what you are teaching and find it interesting, the students will see it.

What is the one book you think everyone should read?

There are three: “Invisible Cities” by Italo Calvino (imagery is astounding), “Super Mad at Everything All the Time” by Alison Dagnes (to understand the divide in U.S. today), and “The Belgariad” by David Eddings (best escape fantasy series ever).

What do you do when you need a laugh?

I read Amazon product reviews for the Hutzler 571 Banana Slicer. This was one of the first products to have hundreds of mock product reviews.

Tell us something your students may not know about you:

I have a talented musical family. My wife sings tenor in a barbershop group and my son had a choir scholarship in college and has an amazing voice for classical and show tunes while my daughter has several EPs and a couple of CDs out (if you like Indie folk/pop, look up Sarah Elyse – her 2020 CD “Work in Prog” is excellent). I’m a keyboardist, competent harmonica player and singer, although despite having played open mics and even weddings, I have the worst voice in the family.

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