A visit by the Dean

A guest post by Greg Crawford, Dean of the College of Science

I enjoy visiting classroom lectures with students because I always learn something new from the leading experts who instruct our students. Recently, I sat with the Patent Agent Masters students for a two-hour lecture from Mr. Howard Milton Jr., author of Patent Architecture, and I learned something much bigger than patent law. Mr. Milton was a model of great leadership with intellectual virtues and emotional intelligence for our students.

Mr. Milton, who has been teaching the students for several weeks, clearly exhibited wisdom– not just the vast accumulation of knowledge and data he has from long experience, ­but the thoughtful analysis and good judgment to discover meaning in the facts. Time after time, he demonstrated this wisdom in response to the students’ questions, often asking another question to encourage deeper reflection. Our Patent Law students are bright, engaged, and interactive, and this Socratic approach provided them not only deep understanding of patent law but also an inspiration and example to strive for great things in their careers based on vision and mission. They learned how to be good human beings as well as good at their jobs.

This engagement succeeded because of Mr. Milton’s humility, his self-awareness, and his openness to self-improvement. Despite his decades of experience and expertise in the field, he recognized the students’ talent and valued their opinions. He even solicited their advice, accepted the feedback seriously, and in some cases mentioned how it would help him change is approach in the future. He exhibited a high degree of emotional intelligence that benefited both himself and the students.  This was an important learning experience for our students.

I wanted to share this experience because of the powerful impact it had on our students, and me personally. First, I am so grateful that such a wise and authentic patent practitioner will spend time to train and mentor our terrific students here at Notre Dame. Second, I am excited that our students’  education goes beyond information and provides a mentoring in virtues and emotional intelligence – the “soft skills” that are so important for success. Finally, I personally benefited from the opportunity to step back, reflect, and recall the vital human dimension of all of our work that makes it significant and satisfying. For all of us engaged in Mr. Milton’s presentation, the lecture was a beautiful experience of educating the heart as well as the mind, of inspiring passion for your profession, prudence to act effectively, and courage to embrace great goals and achieve them.

Thank you, Mr. Milton, for sharing your great mind and your great heart, your wisdom and your courage, and your skills in patent law while lifting our vision to become virtuous leaders who will have a positive impact on society in our careers and in our lives.

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