Exceptional Teaching Recognized as Law and Business Professors Receive McGlothlin Awards

The 2023 McGlothlin Awards for Exceptional Teaching have been granted to Professor Katherine Guthrie and Professor Nancy Combs, both esteemed faculty members at William & Mary.

Since its establishment in 2016, the annual McGlothlin Awards have been bestowed upon exceptional educators at William & Mary. This distinguished accolade recognizes the unwavering dedication to teaching exhibited by two outstanding professors—one from William & Mary Law School and the other from the Raymond A. Mason School of Business. Not only does this recognition celebrate their sustained commitments to education, but it also includes a prize for each recipient, generously provided by James W. McGlothlin '62, J.D. '64, LL.D. '00, and Frances Gibson McGlothlin '66, L.H.D. '18.

Professor Katherine Guthrie

"I am immensely grateful to Jim and Fran for acknowledging that teaching excellence lies at the core of William & Mary's identity," said Todd Mooradian, Dean of the Raymond A. Mason School of Business and T.C. and Elizabeth Clarke Professor of Business Administration. "This year's award goes to Katherine Guthrie, the quintessential teacher-scholar whose unwavering dedication lies in fostering the growth of her students and advancing innovative pedagogies and curricula."

2023 McGlothlin Teaching Award RecipientsProfessor Guthrie embodies the core values of the business school, displaying an unwavering commitment to excellence, inclusivity, and personal growth. Dean Mooradian further expressed, "Professor Guthrie stands as an inspiring testament of principled achievement for our students. It is rare to encounter an individual as dedicated to higher education and willing to give of her time and talents to others."

Guthrie is one of the pillars of the undergraduate finance program and has made many noteworthy contributions in and out of the classroom to promote undergraduate learning and career development. She is the founding faculty advisor to four diverse student organizations. In 2015 as the advisor for Women in Business, she collaborated to establish the first Women's Leadership Summit and National Stock Pitch Competition, which has since evolved into the Mason School's largest annual event. Alumnae of W&M expressed how the Summit addressed a prevalent issue at the School of Business. Before the Summit, it had been common practice for the most prestigious and interesting finance jobs to be exclusively available to men within a particular William & Mary social fraternity. The skewed placements perpetuated a power imbalance for business school students from diverse backgrounds. The impact of the Summit was profound, visibly transforming the atmosphere within the Mason School. No longer did access to desirable careers depend on acceptance by members of dominant groups. As a result, individuals from all backgrounds felt empowered and more comfortable occupying more space.

Her background in economics, extensive experience in the DE&I field, genuine care and openness, and her experience as a first-generation student have enabled Guthrie to contribute substantively to DE&I discussions. As the first recipient of the Mansfield Professorship, she used her entire stipend for student-supported initiatives. Her efforts culminated in Mason's first-ever diversity initiative: a professional development course targeted at struggling first- and second-year students from across campus titled "Diversity in the Workplace: Finding your Voice." The course introduced students to the business world, highlighting emerging trends across industries and the changing landscape of corporate culture, and provided them with opportunities to further their professional development. Her course has been described by a former Teaching Assistant as "ahead of its time in that its definition of diversity included unobservable characteristics like a student's unique strengths, and its treatment of professional development focused on the ability to find corporate cultural fit. Professor Guthrie's vision, supported by her students' contributions to our community, set the tone for how the business school would approach diversity, equity & inclusion: as an advantage, not an act of charity."

More recently, when the pandemic impacted all of us in March 2020, many summer internships and job opportunities for students were revoked. Guthrie immediately recognized the need to create a program to support these students and, as a result, launched the Mason Summer Business Institute (MSBI), a four-week program available online to all W&M undergraduates for free. The MSBI was designed to be a substantive academic experience for students to strengthen their skills and resumes. It included cross-discipline lectures, exposure to different technological platforms, mentoring, and networking. Her exceptional leadership and collaboration with faculty members, Executive Partners, alumni, and multiple departments were the driving forces behind the resounding success of this program.

Guthrie is fully vested in the success of our students, with the desire and ability to advance W&M's mission. She has previously earned numerous competitive, high-profile awards for her contributions. Her leadership efforts have been recognized by her students, colleagues, and the administration, including the Alfred N. Page Undergraduate Teaching Award (2012), the Mansfield Professorship (2015-19), Dungan Innovative Teaching Fellowship (2017), Diversity Recognition Award (2017), the Daniel C. Lewis Service Award (2021), and the Inaugural W&M Building Connections & Bridging Differences Award (2022).

Guthrie received her Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Michigan in 2006 and her B.A. in Economics and International Relations as a dual degree from the University of California, Davis. Her broad research interests cover topics from corporate governance to household finance. Guthrie's work has been published in several prestigious peer-reviewed journal articles, including the flagship journal for academic research in finance, the Journal of Finance. Currently, she is exploring how behavioral factors related to sleep and fatigue influence individuals' economic and financial choices.

Professor Nancy Combs

“I am delighted we are able to celebrate teaching excellence on our faculty each year with the McGlothlin Award,” said Dean and Trustee Professor of Law A. Benjamin Spencer. “Professor Nancy Combs, this year’s law recipient, is widely considered a superstar by peers in international criminal law. But, as her students can attest, her brilliance is not confined to her scholarship. She brings an incredible breadth of knowledge, sincere interest in students, and infectious enthusiasm to her classes. She is an exceptional member of the William & Mary faculty.”

Professor Allison Orr Larsen, Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Development at the Law2023 McGlothlin Teaching Award Recipients School, said the evaluations and letters of recommendation from alumni made clear that Combs’ devotion to her students is “deep and long-lasting.” Combs, she said, “has the unique ability to challenge and to nurture students all at the same time. Her mind is exceptional, but it is her very large heart that makes her an absolute treasure of our community.”

Combs joined the William & Mary faculty in 2004 and is the Scott Research Professor and Goodrich Professor of Law.

Celebrated legal scholars Robert E. Scott, J.D. Class of 1968, and his wife, Elizabeth Shumaker Scott, a Class of 1967 undergraduate alumna of William & Mary, established the Scott Research Professorship in 2003. The Goodrich Professorship was created in 1999 in honor of former university rector Ernest W. Goodrich B.A. ’35, Hon. LL.D. ’02.

The Class of 2024 honored Combs as 1L Professor of the Year last spring. She is a previous recipient of the William & Mary Alumni Fellowship Award for teaching excellence and, in addition, is a two-time recipient of the Plumeri Award for Faculty Excellence, a recognition made possible through the generosity of Joseph J. Plumeri ’66, D.P.S. ’11.

Combs teaches courses in criminal law, human rights, and international criminal law. Prior to joining the faculty, she served as legal advisor at the Iran-United States Claims Tribunal in The Hague. She has written extensively on topics in international law and international criminal justice, publishing dozens of articles and essays appearing in the nation’s leading law journals. She is the author of two books, “Factfinding Without Facts: The Uncertain Evidentiary Foundations of International Criminal Convictions” (Cambridge University Press) and “Guilty Pleas in International Law: Constructing a Restorative Justice Approach” (Stanford University Press).

She has participated as an expert witness in international criminal trials in Norway, Sweden, and The Netherlands, and she was a member of the International Expert Framework on International Criminal Procedure. She is currently on the Steering Board of Rethinking SLIC, a global research project that explores secondary liability for international crimes and serious human rights violations.

Combs holds a Ph.D. in international law from Leiden University School of Law and a J.D. from the University of California at Berkeley, where she earned the Thelen Marrin Prize for graduating first in her class. She received her B.A. in philosophy, summa cum laude, from the University of Portland. Following her graduation from law school, she clerked for Judge Diarmuid F. O’Scannlain of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and for Justice Anthony Kennedy of the U.S. Supreme Court.