Dr. Miriam Salholz: Sharing global perspective
By Lois Elfman
Dr. Miriam Salholz doesn’t use the word “retired” to describe her classroom teaching days at St. Francis College coming to an end. Throughout her life and professional career, she has embraced interesting challenges and been unafraid to explore new territory. In her 15 years at St. Francis College, she has taught business law and created interdisciplinary courses and seminars, including The Law of Death and Dying, Women and the Law, Law in U.S. Culture, International Business Law, Civil Rights and Human Rights, and Sports and the Law.
In addition to earning a Juris Doctor, Salholz also achieved the LL.M. in International Legal Studies. She spent more than a decade in Paris as senior counsel for a French multinational corporation while continuing to teach in Athens and Paris, and she has organized law courses around the world.
Salholz has also held faculty positions at Houston Law Center, Fordham University School of Law and Seton Hall University School of Law. Last July, she was named an academic member of the Athens Institute for Education and Research, for which she is organizing a small symposium on global legal education.
While the spring semester at SFC was her last as a full-time faculty member, Salholz did take the online certification course and may share her incredible experiences and vivid stories with SFC students online in the future.
How did teaching aspects of the law to undergraduates intrigue and inspire you in a different way than teaching law students?
MS: The key difference is that the law students wanted to be in my course in particular because I taught a course called International Business Transactions (IBT). That was not a required course, so the students who took that course wanted to be in that course for various reasons.
At St. Francis College, most of the students who took my [business law] courses…took them because it was a requirement for their major. If you were an accounting major or you were a business management major you had to take my two courses.
I was inspired to interest them in the study of law, to excite them in the course that they were taking and to explain to them why it was important for their future professional lives. We talked about cases that were in the book, but I also told them about cases that were not in the book and I presented them as stories to show how they were interesting and affected people. It made the law personal to them. I would try to nurture their ability to think and to reason. Even beyond the law, I thought those were useful life skills.
How has St. Francis College’s Franciscan mission impacted your teaching during your time at the college?
MS: Students had family obligations and also worked. I had to be flexible in my teaching with them and be understanding of the obligations that these students had outside of the classroom. It made me become more flexible.
The most important thing to me was to show these students of what they were capable. To expand their horizons to make them realize that they were capable of really great things that they hadn’t thought of, whether it was the law or something else.
What do you consider notable milestones in your 15 years at St. Francis?
MS: Some years ago, thanks to a St. Francis graduate who later clerked for her, we were honored with a visit from Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. I was asked to be the faculty member to coordinate students for her visit. In particular, they asked me to have three students prepare questions. The day of her visit we had lunch and then she read out the questions of my students. We didn’t know which question she would select. The students had the opportunity to meet with the Justice and have a picture taken with her. I really enjoyed giving this to the students and helping this day come about.
Another milestone, in the spring of 2019 I was named faculty of the year. I have gotten lots of accolades in my life, but this is one of the ones that means the most to me. This was a recognition from the constituencies that I am here to serve. The students were telling me in a beautiful way that they appreciated all that I had done.
What will you miss most about teaching St. Francis students?
MS: What I miss most about teaching St. Francis students are the students. St. Francis students are endearing human beings. They are kind. They are striving to get ahead. I will miss seeing them on a daily basis and being able to expand their horizons.
What ongoing relationships have you sustained with St. Francis alumni who you’ve taught and mentored over the years?
MS: I keep in contact with a young woman who is Chinese. I took my daughter to China…and she struck up a friendship with a wonderful young woman who confided that she wanted to go to college in New York. She was thinking of NYU. I said, “No, you must come to St. Francis.” She came to St. Francis and graduated top of her class. She is an absolutely brilliant, wonderful human being.
Do you have any message you want to share with the St. Francis community as it faces the ongoing challenges due to COVID-19?
MS: Be flexible and understanding with the students. Above all, wear your masks, don’t gather in groups, pray and look forward to our better future together.