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October 15, 2008

Professor Ernest Smith honored with Massey Teaching Excellence Award

Photo of Professor Ernest E. Smith

Professor Ernest Smith

Dean Larry Sager of The University of Texas School of Law has announced that Ernest E. Smith, the Rex G. Baker Centennial Chair in Natural Resources Law, is the recipient of the 2008–2010 Massey Teaching Excellence Award. Professor Smith, an internationally recognized energy law scholar and a former dean of the Law School, has taught at UT Law for forty-five years. Last spring he taught the first-ever wind power law course to be offered at an American law school. Smith is being honored with the award, which carries a significant stipend, at a reception at the Law School on Wednesday, October 15, 2008.

Photo of John and Elizabeth Massey

John and Libba Massey

“Teaching law has been my life for over four decades. I cannot imagine a job that could have been more personally rewarding than teaching and getting to know the hundreds—or more probably thousands—of students who have been in my classes. I have, I hope, contributed in some way to their success as attorneys and as fine, honorable men and women,” Smith said. “There is no honor that could ever mean more to me than the Massey Award for Teaching Excellence. I am deeply grateful for receiving it and to John and Elizabeth Massey for establishing the award.”

Smith earned his undergraduate degree from Southern Methodist University and his law degree from Harvard Law School. He joined the UT Law faculty in 1963 and quickly established his reputation as an expert in the field of oil and gas law and as an excellent and popular classroom teacher. Smith served as dean of UT Law School from 1974 to 1979.

Smith is co-author of the leading casebook on Oil and Gas Law (West, 5th ed., 2007) and the leading treatise on Texas Law of Oil and Gas (3 volumes, 2nd ed., LEXIS Law Pub., 1998, & 2007 updates). He also teaches in the area of property, and is co-author of a widely used text, Cases and Materials on Property (Foundation, 9th ed., 2007). Smith has been a visiting professor at several law schools, including Harvard Law School.

“It is a very, very happy moment at UT Law—one in which we can acknowledge three remarkable members of our community of ideas and constructive projects at once,” Dean Sager said. “Ernest Smith has been a favorite teacher of generations of our students, and by changing them for the better has changed the world as well. And John and Libba Massey have been wonderful members of our community; they have been tremendously generous and actively involved in making UT Law an even better environment in which to teach and learn. We are marvelously lucky to be graced by teachers like Ernest and supporters and counselors like John and Libba.”

In the fall of 2004, the Law School announced the endowment of the Massey Teaching Excellence Award by John H. Massey, J.D. ’66, and his wife, Elizabeth S. Massey, B.S. ’61. The Law School is charged with presenting the award to a faculty member who “epitomizes the School’s priority of providing the highest quality of teaching to its students.”

The Masseys live in Dallas, where Mr. Massey has had a successful career as an investor and executive in radio, television, and the insurance business. Elizabeth Massey has long been active as a community volunteer.

“Libba and I both received excellent educations at The University of Texas from which we have benefited throughout the entirety of our adult lives,” John Massey said. “These Excellence in Teaching awards which we have established at various places throughout the UT system are our way of expressing appreciation for the traditions of great teaching at UT and, more specifically, to recognize and honor the “great teachers” of today.

The University of Texas School of Law has long had one of the outstanding faculties in the nation, in terms of both scholarly distinction and success in the classroom.

The Massey Teaching Excellence Award Endowment is one of the most generous of its kind in the nation. The first recipient of the award was UT Law professor David Rabban, a leading scholar in free speech in American history and labor law, and a member of the University’s elite Academy of Distinguished Teachers. Stanley Johanson, the nation’s foremost scholar on wills and estates, who is also a University Distinguished Teacher, and one of John Massey’s former professors, was the second recipient of the award.

Related links:

Professor Ernest Smith:

Professor Ernest Smith to teach first-ever Wind Law course:

Professor David Rabban Honored with First Massey Teaching Excellence Award:

Professor Stanley Johanson Honored with Massey Teaching Excellence Award:

Contact: Kirston Fortune, Assistant Dean for Communications, (512) 471.7330 or