The College Designates Ron Hofer as NJC Distinguished Professor

By Joy Lyngar

A New Way to Think About Faculty Service

On January 1, NJC bestowed a new honor for the first time. We made Professor Ron Hofer an “NJC Distinguished Professor.” I probably don’t need to tell you about how great Ron is and why we considered him for our inaugural Distinguished Professorship. He has been teaching for the College for 23 years, consistently scores top evaluation marks, has received the Payant Award for Faculty Excellence from the Faculty Council, and is in high demand around the country for his engaging presentation style, his humor, and the way he helps judges write better opinions.

The reason I thought Ron might agree to participate in this new arrangement is that he has shown great loyalty and affection to NJC over the years. He publicly credits the College for the national reach that has given him recognition across the country. In memory of his father, he created a sculpture of the scales of justice which has a place of distinction in front of our building. Read more about Distinguished Professor Hofer in our Case In Point magazine coming out later this year. He regularly donates the stuffed animals he wins at Circus Circus to NJC and other charities. (Ron is actually the only NJC faculty member who has been asked to leave a Reno casino for excessive winnings.  It’s too bad the winnings were Circus Circus stuffed animals!)

You might think that this new title is a good thing for Ron Hofer, but let me tell you why it is a better thing for NJC, and might inspire you to think differently about your service to the College.

Has this ever happened to you? Two weeks after you return home from teaching for NJC, you receive this voice mail message:

“I heard you teach when I was a student at The National Judicial College. You gave an excellent presentation! I’m calling to invite you to come to my state’s annual judicial conference and repeat your presentation for all of the judges in my state.”

It could just as easily be an administrative law agency or a tribe calling.

What should you do? I hope this article gives you a new way to think about your response.

As part of the agreement making him an NJC Distinguished Professor, Ron agreed to teach exclusively for us in 2016. If Ron gets a call from someone wanting him to teach for their state, tribe, or agency, he refers the call to NJC as his agent, and we negotiate the terms of the deal.

The person who planted the seed in my mind for this idea is Judge Toni Boone, Chair-Elect of the Faculty Council. Someone from an administrative law agency obtained her contact information from the roster of an NJC course and called her up to see if she would come out and repeat the same presentation for their judges. In her response, Judge Boone evidenced a loyalty and an understanding of NJC’s business model that inspired me. She recognized that NJC would “cease to be” if each individual instructor was also willing to volunteer their services to teach independently for other entities.

Back to that voice mail message. What would happen if you return the call and say, “I’m interested in teaching for your state. I am a member of the faculty of NJC, and I’d like you to contact William Brunson at NJC to arrange the terms of the speaking engagement…”?

The College will benefit greatly if you give us this opportunity. We will work on the terms of an agreement with the state (or agency or tribe) for a custom built course. This gives us an opportunity to establish a relationship with the requesting entity, raises our enrollment numbers for the year, and increases our contact database with potential customers. In return, we provide staffing support for the creation of your learning objectives and material, provide travel agency support for booking your airline ticket, and advocate on your behalf for adequate time for your session, and audio-visual support. We also conduct a needs assessment to ensure that your presentation receives the highest possible ratings.

This type of contribution is not for every member of our faculty, and certainly not for every speaking opportunity. You may have pre-existing relationships with your state or local bar association. You may have already been a nationally renowned speaker before you taught for NJC for the first time. However, if you credit the College for the speaking invitation, please consider bringing us into the communication loop.

Some of you might already be funneling speaking requests through us, and I’d love to hear from you. Contact me (lyngar@judges.org or 775-327-8263). I’m happy to answer any questions you might have about our negotiation process and our custom built course product. I’m grateful to Distinguished Professor Ron Hofer for agreeing to be part of this new initiative and demonstrating a new way to contribute to the College’s success.


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