As most of Professor Ingrid Hillinger’s so-called “kids” will tell you, she is one of the scariest, but also the most beloved, of Boston College Law School professors. So, when word reached Hon. Elizabeth Gunn ’05 that the woman who had changed her life was a contender for a major award, she immediately took action, recruiting four other bankruptcy judge proteges to co-write with her a nomination letter.
It worked, and last October Hillinger received the National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges’ 2022 Excellence in Education Award.
The five judges who penned the recommendation are but a small fraction of the protégés and mentees who gladly would have added their signatures in praise of Hillinger, herself a legendary writer of recommendations.
She is admired for her habit of retreating from the limelight so that it shines more comprehensively on the thousands she has taught over the span of forty-five years, and she is respected for how she models professional behavior. In the words of one former student: “No matter how long she’s been teaching a class, every lecture she tries to make it better. That drive to always improve is very inspiring.”
“No matter how long she’s been teaching a class, every lecture she tries to make it better. That drive to always improve is very inspiring.”Former Professor Hillinger student
One of those inspired was Gunn, a US Bankruptcy Judge for the District of Columbia. “I’m a bankruptcy lawyer because of Ingrid,” she says proudly. So, too, were the co-authors of the letter for Hillinger: two grads from William & Mary (where Hillinger taught before BC Law), Hon. Karen Jennemann (Ret.) and Hon. Frank Santoro; and two from BC, Hon. Erik Kimball ’90 and Hon. Mark Houle ’96.
Hillinger’s brand of excellence is defined by generosity, caring, and a steely commitment to seeing that both she and her students are the best that they can be. “She continues to inspire us many years after we have left her classroom,” her supporters say—a pedagogical award in its own right.