Tuesday, December 14, 2021
If you don't know Michael P. Maslanka but feel like you've seen his name before, and maybe a lot, it's because few law professors in North Texas are more sought out by journalists to interpret and analyze law, in particular employment and employment discrimination law. He joined UNT Dallas College of Law in 2015 after practicing for 34 years. In fact, the photo above was taken the night before his last closing argument in his last trial as a lawyer. Now as a professor, he's found renewed fulfillment and is truly loved and respected by his students and colleagues (not to mention reporters). The grandson of a Polish immigrant-steel-worker-turned-dairy-farmer, Michael is a hoops fanatic, as his favorite movie reveals, a lover of Shakespeare for this specific reason, and an admirer of these two U.S. presidents for this one shared critical virtue.
What is your favorite aspect about your job?
I don’t want to over-lawyer this answer, but I object to the question as mischaracterization! It is not a job, it is for me -- hand-to-heart -- a calling. Best thing? To hear from students/graduates that what I said in class has made a real difference in their lives. Bonus room: you never know what it can be.
What employee benefit or activity would you like to see added to UNT World?
24/7 access to my office at the law school. The books I publish don’t write themselves.
What is your proudest work moment?
The day I realized that being allowed to live this calling is the greatest privilege of my life.
What is your proudest non-work moment?
What is a fact about you that may surprise your work colleagues?
I am fairly transparent but perhaps that my last name in Polish and means “buttermilk” and that my grandfather, after immigrating to the United States, worked in the steel mills in Buffalo, saved every nickel and dime and bought, yes, you guessed it, a dairy farm!
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE...
Movie?: Hoosiers. To say that Hoosiers is a movie about basketball is like saying that Moby Dick is a novel about a whale. It is about second chances, which (for the most part) we all deserve to get. (In fact, he created this video about his favorite movie that he incorporates in his class).
Book?: No book but plays -- all of the plays of Shakespeare. Why? Because he grasped -- liked no one before or since -- that we are not all good or all bad. A lesson I seek to teach students.
Inspirational figure?: Abraham Washington -- sorry, but I merged Abe and George together. Why? They shared one critical virtue: they each subordinated their ego to the greater good. True profiles in courage.