A proponent of access to education, Sam Donaldson has taught at the university level for 17 years, though he says his education career started much earlier.
"In kindergarten I would come home and line up my stuffed animals and teach them what I had learned in school," says Donaldson, a new professor of law at Georgia State University College of Law. "Teaching is the one thing that I've always wanted to do."
Donaldson comes to Atlanta from the University of Washington School of Law, where he has been on the faculty full time since 1999 and most recently served as associate dean for academic administration. He taught part time at the university for four years while he was a practicing attorney in the Seattle area.
Georgia State is a good match for Donaldson, a product of public schools, is a proponent of access to education. Even as GSU grows in prestige, Donaldson says that the school's continuing dedication to access is to be admired.
"GSU is one of the few remaining law schools where it is relatively affordable to go to law school, and yet there isn't any compromise in terms of the education or mission," Donaldson says. "I like the fact that GSU Law is recognizing its obligations to be a professional school as well as a graduate school."
A native of Oregon, Donaldson studied history and political science. Even then, he had a side gig as a high school speech and debate coach. After college, Donaldson attended law school at Arizona State University; during that time, he taught at a community college in Tucson.
At GSU, he will be teaching courses on property, wills and trusts, and federal income tax.
Donaldson relocated to Atlanta this summer to get married — his wife is an estate planning attorney here — and says Georgia State was his first choice.
"I could not have asked for a better result," he says. "I was very happy at the University of Washington, but there are better things in Atlanta, and I count the [GSU] law school among those. It was a personal reason that motivated the move, but the professional reasons are proving to be compelling too."
As much as he enjoys teaching, Donaldson also likes to learn and challenge himself by picking up new hobbies. Recently he's tried his hand at cake baking, inspired by the Food Network show Ace of Cakes.
Most of his leisure time, however, is dedicated to crossword puzzles. The documentary Wordplay sparked his interest six years ago, and since then Donaldson has participated in crossword puzzle tournaments and started to pitch puzzles of his creation. In pursuit of this avocation, he has landed crossword puzzles in The New York Times, USA Today and The Los Angeles Times, among other publications.
Kathleen Poe Ross