“A real community”

Professor Sarah Waldeck pursues her twin passions of teaching and research

What’s it like to be a student in Sarah Waldeck’s classroom? The Distinguished Professor of Law employs a surprising metaphor to describe her classroom environment. “It’s like being in a game,” she says. “You either come ready to play or you don’t.”

Loyola law students, she says, always come ready to play.

That means they’re prepared to engage when Waldeck asks questions, and they respectfully challenge each other in breakout groups. Curiosity and intellectual rigor drive classroom discussion. And there’s something else Waldeck noticed during her earliest days at the School of Law.

“I saw that my students had a real community—a community that supported each other,” she says. “It made me think I could be here long term.”

A Teacher at Heart

Waldeck’s official arrival at Loyola in fall 2019 marked a Midwestern homecoming for the Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, native, who earned her law degree at the University of Wisconsin. Previously, Waldeck served on the faculty at Seton Hall University School of Law for over 15 years.

Thanks to an eye-opening Bigelow Fellowship at the University of Chicago, Waldeck pursued a career that combines teaching and research.

“That was the moment I decided to become a law school professor,” she says. “I sometimes joke that if I hadn’t gone to law school, I would have become a high school teacher.”

Among Waldeck’s proudest Loyola moments? Being nominated for the Ignatius Loyola Award for Excellence in Teaching—twice in three years.

“I saw that my students had a real community—a community that supported each other.”

Bridging the Past and Present

In addition to teaching torts, estates, property, and cultural property—and a stint as acting associate dean of academic affairs—Waldeck focuses on research that examines the law and racial injustice.

A 2019 paper examines the social and economic incentives that compel residents of a racially integrated Chicago suburb to follow a decades-old law designed to prevent white flight—even though today that law is unconstitutional and unenforceable.

In another paper, Waldeck and her coauthor explore the federal housing policies that led to segregated cities; then, the authors propose policy changes that could begin to remedy these harms.

It’s research that seamlessly aligns with the School of Law’s explicit anti-racist mission.

“Students take the mission statement very seriously, and they expect us to take it seriously, too,” Waldeck says. “It’s so exciting that students are going to take this mission statement and carry it forward into their professional careers. They’re going to take their individual talents and set the world on fire. I can’t wait to see the results.” —Kelsey Schagemann (May 2022)

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As a community of thinkers, doers, and leaders, our faculty members are renowned scholars whose scholarship has a significant impact.  Learn more about our faculty and how they bring their transformative scholarship into the classroom.

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Loyola University Chicago School of Law is a student-focused law center inspired by the Jesuit tradition of academic excellence, intellectual openness, and service to others.

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