Lifelong Impact of Professor Inspires Scholarship Fund

From left: College of Sciences Dean Michael Johnson, Chris Lombardo, Director of the School of Politics, Security, and International Affairs Kerstin Hamann.

In a hectic world, it pays to pause and say “thank you.”

That’s the philosophy of Chris Lombardo, who was struck not too long ago about his own inattention to showing gratefulness. More specifically, he realized the impact that longtime Political Science professor Roger Handberg, Ph.D., had on Lombardo’s career as an attorney.

“The foundational lessons I learned about researching, really how to approach law, all came from Dr. Handberg,” Lombardo said.

Lombardo came to UCF, then Florida Technological University, after graduating from Winter Park High School with intentions of ultimately becoming an attorney. His pre-law track landed him early in his education in Handberg’s Constitutional Law class, which already had a reputation as one of the hardest classes at the university.

Lombardo agrees that it was difficult, but he was fascinated by Handberg’s methodology. More than rote recitation and memorization, Handberg forces students to think about the law as a living, changing thing, he said. Successful lawyers use a law’s history to predict how it will be interpreted in a modern mindset and eventually change in the future.

“Either you learn to think like a lawyer, or you’re just a tape recorder replaying facts. You really haven’t learned anything,” Lombardo said.

Lombardo enjoyed Handberg’s challenges so much that he actively sought out his classes for the rest of his studies at UCF. Not only did it build up a foundational law knowledge, but it equipped him for the even more demanding environment of law school at Florida State University. And just as UCF had Handberg, FSU’s law school had a well-respected Constitutional Law professor with a reputation for toughness, Patricia Dore.

“She was the person who crushed your GPA,” Lombardo said.

Still, four years under Handberg had taught Lombardo and the other Knights who had traveled to Tallahassee with him how to perform under pressure. While other students withered under the gaze of Dore, Lombardo held his own.

“She was pretty astounded by our grasp on the law as incoming students,” Lombardo said. “And it really goes back to Handberg’s training and preparation.”

Lombardo’s gratefulness recently took shape as a scholarship fund that honors Handberg’s influence on his life.  He was quickly joined by several other alumni who also benefitted from Handberg’s teaching. The fund is more than halfway toward the $25,000 needed to fully endow the scholarship.  If you enjoyed learning from Dr. Handberg, please join this effort by adding your support here.

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