Award Winners

USC Associates Award for Excellence Teaching
Presented at the 33rd Annual Academic Honors Convocation
April 8, 2014

Thomas Griffith & Robert Landel

Thomas Griffith
John B. Milliken Professor of Law and Taxation
USC Gould School of Law

Since joining the university's faculty in 1984, Tom Griffith has worked tirelessly to enhance the classroom experience at the Gould School of Law and to ensure that all of USC’s law students master the foundational skill of rigorous legal analysis. Professor Griffith pioneered highly effective teaching strategies, relying on his background training in law and education to identify new methods for instructing law students. In addition to his other teaching and scholarly activities, he spent thousands of hours building a new academic support curriculum, which included tutoring sessions, exam-taking skills courses, and hands-on workshops. After he informally implemented these cutting-edge forms of instruction, students flourished, systemically improving their classroom performance, passing the bar at significantly higher rates, and achieving greater professional success. Recognizing the value and importance of Professor Griffith’s ideas, the law school has now reformed its curriculum, incorporating and emphasizing this hands-on, skills-based approach to learning.

Professor Griffith is widely admired throughout the law school for his extraordinary dedication to teaching and his willingness to spend countless hours with students in both formal and informal contexts. He has received some of the best teaching evaluations, with students routinely describing him as “fantastic,” “awesome” and “born to teach.” Throughout his career, he has received many teaching and mentoring awards; among these special recognitions, he has won the law school’s Faculty of the Year award no fewer than four times.

For his stellar teaching and passionate commitment to enriching students’ educational experiences, the University of Southern California is pleased to honor Thomas Griffith with the USC Associates Award for Excellence in Teaching.


Robert Landel
Professor of Clinical Physical Therapy
Division of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy
Ostrow School of Dentistry of the University of Southern California

Enthusiastic, patient, and challenging are a few of the words students use to describe Rob Landel. Dedicated to learner-centered instruction, he has implemented key curricular changes within
his division—changes that have helped make USC the nation’s top-ranked physical therapy school. Professor Landel teaches students in their final year of the doctor of physical therapy program, and his course demands integration and application of the knowledge, skill, and abilities that students have learned in their first two years of study and during their concurrent clinical rotations. A practicing clinician, Professor Landel shares his passion for patient care with his students, recounting stories of failures as well as successes, citing as a principle that “you will make mistakes; you just don’t have to make mine!” Despite their reputation for difficulty, his courses—and his teaching—routinely receive rave reviews.

A native of Southern California, Professor Landel received his master’s and doctoral degrees in physical therapy from USC. After joining USC’s faculty in 1988, he founded USC Physical Therapy Associates, an outpatient faculty practice, and co-founded the USC Orthopedic Physical Therapy Residency Program. He currently serves as director of the doctor of physical therapy program and all four physical therapy residency programs. Professor Landel has received national recognition for his remarkable teaching abilities, and has been honored with his division’s Outstanding Teacher Award on two occasions, the only person to receive this distinction more than once.

For his extraordinary efforts on behalf of his students and his unstinting devotion to their success, the University of Southern California is pleased to honor Robert Landel with the USC Associates Award for Excellence in Teaching.