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JAG Faculty Member Wins Award for Excellence

  POSTED ON: Monday, April 10, 2023 10:01 AM by

The United States Naval Academy congratulates Lt. Mark Jessup for being this year’s recipient of the Apgar Award for Excellence in Teaching. He is an Assistant Professor of Military Law at the United States Naval Academy and the Academic Officer for the Leadership, Ethics, and Law (LEL) Department. A Judge Advocate General (JAG), a military lawyer, was the first awardee in 1997.


“Words cannot express how honored I am to receive this award,” said Jessup. “I thank God often for the incredible opportunity to teach at the United States Naval Academy.”

The award recognizes and encourages our relatively junior faculty who have had a significant impact on their students and/or who have made a significant contribution to the art of teaching and counseling students. It is presented to a junior military faculty member in odd years and to a junior civilian faculty member in even years who has not taught for more than five consecutive semesters. 

Jessup is a Houston, Texas, native who earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, magna cum laude, from Texas A&M University in 2012, and a Certificate in Leadership Development Studies from his four years in the Corps of Cadets. He graduated from the University of Houston Law Center in May 2015, and was commissioned through the JAG Corps Student Program in June 2015.

He came to the Academy after being a trial counsel at Region Legal Service Office Northwest, during which he was selected as the Naval Legal Service Command's Trial Counsel of the Year and qualified as a specialist in the Military Justice Litigation Career Track. He now teaches “Law for the Junior Officer” and the “Law of Armed Conflict” elective.

Navy Capt. Andrew Ledford is the chair of the Leadership Ethics and Law Department, who saw that Jessup made an immediate impact well beyond the classroom when he started here. 

“He came onto my radar as someone who just absolutely knocks it out of the park and crushes it,” Ledford said, beginning with the John Johnson Award for Mental Toughness.

“Mark worked with me to spearhead getting that as a commandant instruction, getting it as an annual award for the Naval Academy, and was instrumental in creating the entire construction, all of the legalities that went through with two things, the watch that we get from Luminox that goes to the midshipman who gets this award each year, as well as a sword that is paid for by a donation from the family of John Johnson. We awarded it for the first time last year. He just got on to the department, picked up on that, and said, ‘Hey, I got it.’ It was phenomenal.” 

The next thing Jessup took on that is going to have a direct impact on the core courses of leadership and ethics is the use of the Apple TV show “The Line” about the Eddie Gallagher case and the war crimes he was accused of. “Mark was instrumental in coordinating with Apple TV so that the Naval Academy would be able to get the rights to show that to all the midshipmen for case studies on law of armed conflict,” said Ledford. “Mark handled all that with producers, the author, the director of the show, and Apple TV in getting the rights.” These episodes are now free for all midshipmen to access and learn from for years to come.

Lt. Cmdr. Tim Bergstrom, JAGC, law section head and assistant professor of military law, said Jessup is part of the JAG Corps's military justice litigation career track. “We have a group of JAGs that specialize in litigation within that community, and Mark is one of the most skilled litigators that we have. He has an exceptional courtroom presence, which transfers really well into the classroom. He also has an incredible depth of knowledge about the Constitution and the law of armed conflict. He's so well regarded by his students and his peers. His work is just absolutely exceptional.”

“This experience has been a blessing,” said Jessup, “and I’m thankful for the servant leadership I have seen modeled during my career, and for those who have continued to invest so much in my development. My hope is to do the same for those I have the privilege to lead and instruct, and I am so grateful for any impact I’ve had on the midshipmen during my time here.”

One such midshipman is now Ensign Caden Meilner, Class of 2022, who was Jessup’s student as well as a mentee who valued the immense detail Jessup shared, his depth of knowledge, and his sense of humor that made him many a midshipman’s favorite professor. “The balance of that was pretty special, honestly,” Meilner said. “He really prepared us well. I genuinely looked forward to going to class.” Jessup and his family were a great support system for Meilner outside of the classroom too. 

Professor Carolyn Judge, deputy director of Teaching, Learning and Multimedia, is on the committee that evaluates those who have been nominated. According to Judge, it wasn’t an easy selection as there were a number of excellent candidates.

“The committee was very, very impressed with his ability to really engage with the students on material that could be very dry. But he had them enthusiastic and engaged. They just raved really about how much the students were eager to participate and contribute and how well he handled the flow of the class,” said Judge. “He didn't stick to any predetermined plan, he went where the student interests were, and was able to really handle all of the issues and questions that came up, demonstrating his expertise, but also keeping the enthusiasm of the students and getting everyone to be engaged with it.” 

Jessup contributes to teaching and learning beyond his class and what is required of a junior military officer, such as developing an elective course. “He taught an excellent class,” Judge said, “and really stood out.”

“I just genuinely really admire him,” Meilner said. “He's an officer and a gentleman. At the end of the day, he truly embodies both of those things to the highest extent, and he's somebody that I honestly aspire to be like.”

The Apgar Award was established in 1996 by Mahlon Apgar, IV, and Anne Demarest Nelson Apgar to recognize, encourage, and reward individual faculty members at the Naval Academy who have had a demonstrable impact on their students and/or who have made a significant contribution to the art of teaching and counseling students. Special emphasis is placed on instilling the values of character, responsibility, and integrity of Navy and Marine Corps officers through their example and methods. For more information about the Apgar Award and previous awardees, as well as other USNA faculty awards, visit


Category: General Interest, People