October 8, 2001
The Price is right
By Eric Rangus, firstname.lastname@example.org
Ask Polly Price about her job, the School of Laws associate dean
for academic affairs, a position she took over in July, and she will matter-of-factly
discuss her responsibilitiesshe supervises career services, works
with the admissions office, meets with students and also chairs the law
schools technology committee.
Ask Price about her current activities, and she will discuss the book
she is working onher firstand readying for publication next
The way Im telling myself to do it is to think of it as a
series of articles, Price says. She has been published in journals
before, but has never tackled this large of an effort. I like the
idea of a long-term project with a big subject. Its been a learning
process for me as well as something fun. The books title will
be Property Rights and Constitutional Protection: Rights and Liberties
Under the Law.
But to see Prices face brighten, to hear her cadence quicken, for
her to sit forward in her chair when she speaks
Ask her about basketball.
When I tell people about our team, I say that we were short and
slow, and that is just death for a basketball team, says the 5-foot-3
Price, an alumna of Emory College, her voice a mix of joyful reminiscence
and wry humor. Our team is the Emory Eagles womens basketball
team of 198586, Prices senior year. The squad was the Universitys
first to have uniforms, a 12-game intercollegiate schedule and even a
van for transport.
Prior to that year (and for Prices first two years on campus) the
Emory womens basketball team was more a theory than anything else.
A club-level activity, the team scratched out games against other local
colleges (Agnes Scott, for instance), but didnt have any formal
organization. It did produce two current faculty members, though: Price
and Carol Terry, an assistant professor of medicine.
While the 198586 team was still a club team (varsity play wouldnt
come to campus until 1988), but it was much more organizedbut still
a little rough around the edges. Senior Kim Craddock and coach Phil James
(an employee of Residence Life) set up the schedule. Some games saw only
five players dress and of the 12 games the Eagles suited up for they won
We had about six fans, says Price, the teams point
guard. We called them the Iron Six, and two of them were my roommates.
Prices most entertaining story about that year concerns a trip
the team took to Milledgeville to play Georgia Collegea school with
scholarship athletes, clearly an inhumane test for nonscholarship Emory.
The term Price uses to describe the game befits the vivid vocabulary of
a law professor: blood bath.
We had no business even playing them, she says. We
got beat 112 to 38. That number is seared in my brain. And it was the
only Emory score The Atlanta-Journal Constitution ever printed
the whole year.
Later in the year, Emory had scheduled a home game against Georgia College.
It didnt happen. We called them and said, You can come,
but we wont be here, Price laughs.
The team finished 012 and didnt even dig up a victory when
it squared off against the Emory yearbook, which lost its team photo.
We were crushed, totally crushed, Price says. We never
managed to win, but we had a great time.
Dont get the idea that Prices college career consisted only
of hoop dreams, however. She earned both bachelors and masters
degrees in American history during her four years at Emory. A Bobby Jones
Scholar her junior year, Price spent two semesters studying at St. Andrews
Its always inspiring because they are so much better students
that I was, says a clearly modest Price, who was Phi Beta Kappa
and a teaching fellow while a law student at Harvard. Having to
pick from that groupwe send four out of 12 to 15 finalistsis
always a very tough job.
I wanted to be a lawyer because I wanted to be a law professor,
she says. Once I got to law school, I was skeptical about whether
I would like practicing law. As it turned out, I loved it, and I still
After graduating from Harvard, Price clerked two years with the 8th Circuit
Court and was based in Little Rock, Ark., just down the road from her
hometown of Russellville. After her clerkship, Price practiced law for
five years, doing primarily appellate work.
It was really an inspiring time, and that made it a tough decision
when I had the opportunity to go into teaching, Price says. But
Im glad I did it. The transition has been wonderful, and Im
very happy with what I do here at Emory.
Price joined her alma maters law faculty in 1995. Now an associate
professor, she teaches courses in torts, legal methods and American legal
history. Prior to this year, she taught three-to-four classes a year,
but with her associate deanship responsibilities taking up a great deal
of effort, her workload has been whittled to one classthe legal
methods coursefor the time being.
Some of Prices favorite experiences, she says, have been her opportunities
to travel abroad. Last summer, she taught a class in Dresden, Germany,
and this past April she was the sole U.S. representative at a conference
in South Africa in which the attendees were tasked to train that countys
judges and magistrates in their new civil rights laws and legislation.
I love being on this side, Price says not about the desk
she is seated behind but rather the larger idea of being a faculty member
of a school where she spent her college days.
For years I was paying tuition to Emory College; I had some loans
that I was still paying back as of a few years ago, she continues.
When I was a lawyer, I loved the fact that I was making more money
than I ever paid in tuition to Emory. Im always grateful for that,
because I feel that Emory made that possible.
Price pauses for just a breath. Ive gotten far more from Emory than I ever gave.