Thursday, August 12, 2010

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72 Educators Lauded for Excellence, Innovation in Undergraduate Teaching

AUSTIN – Seventy-two faculty members from institutions within The University of Texas System were recognized Wednesday (Aug. 11) by the Board of Regents for outstanding teaching and will share $2 million in awards.

The educators were honored as the 2010 Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award winners during a ceremony on the UT Austin campus. The awards, which range from $15,000 to $30,000, are given to faculty members who demonstrate extraordinary classroom performance and innovation at the undergraduate level. The event marked the program’s second year.

“These awards show that the Board of Regents and the UT System are focused on rewarding excellence in the classroom – for it is there that our institutions provide the most critical facet of the university  experience: the education of our students,” said Regents’ Chairman Colleen McHugh.

Award nominees must demonstrate a clear commitment to teaching and a sustained ability to deliver excellence to the undergraduate learning experience. In the competition for the awards, faculty candidates were subjected to rigorous examination of their teaching performance over three years by campus and external examiners.

Evaluations by students, peer faculty and external reviewers considered a range of activities and criteria, including classroom expertise, curricula quality, innovative course development and student learning outcomes. A teaching portfolio was required to demonstrate pedagogical innovation, continuous improvement of course materials, overall teacher training experience and a statement of teaching philosophy and objectives.

“We have a clear duty to provide an exceptional education to our students. These awards not only further that goal, they help advance a culture of excellence that translates to better pedagogy and research, and, ultimately, to a stronger and more vibrant economy for this great state,” said UT System Chancellor Francisco G. Cigarroa, M.D.

Among those honored this year were 38 tenured faculty members, who each received $30,000 awards. Seventeen tenure-track faculty each received $25,000 awards and another 17 contingent faculty each received $15,000 awards. Besides the cash awards, winners also received a bronze medallion and a certificate commemorating the achievement.

“We believe in rewarding excellence, but we also believe in setting rigorous standards in our teaching awards. Therefore, we know these educators incorporate the very best teaching methods and that they impart cutting-edge concepts and information based on scholarship and research,” said David B. Prior, UT System’s executive vice chancellor for academic affairs.

A complete list of names and the institutions at which they teach is available online at www.utsystem.edu/teachingawards/.

The awards program was established by the Board of Regents in August 2008 as the latest in a series of UT System-sponsored activities aimed at fostering innovative approaches to teaching, research and commercialization endeavors at all 15 UT System institutions.

In 2004, the System launched the Science and Technology Acquisition and Retention (STARs) Program, which created a multimillion dollar fund to recruit and retain top-flight researchers to UT institutions. Researchers recruited and/or retained under the program have generated more than $345 million in sponsored research at UT institutions.

In 2005, the Chancellor’s Health Fellows program was established to enhance faculty collaborations and achievements, and other communications projects, among the health and academic campuses.  That same year, the Innovations in Health Science Education program was created to recognize innovation and achievement in undergraduate or graduate health science education. The top prize for that program is $7,500.

And in 2007, the UT System initiated the $2 million Texas Ignition Fund (TIF), which recognizes extraordinary research discovery. TIF grants of up to $50,000 are used to help move inventions from the laboratory to the commercial marketplace. Also in 2007, the UT System established the annual Chancellor’s Innovations in Education Awards – $5,000 prizes which recognize faculty who demonstrate teaching excellence; and the Chancellor’s Entrepreneurship and Innovation Awards, which reward outstanding individual and collaborative accomplishments in research and innovation. Prizes in that category can reach $15,000.

About The University of Texas System

The University of Texas System is one of the nation’s largest higher education systems, with nine academic campuses and six health institutions. The UT System has an annual operating budget of $11.9 billion (FY 2010) including $2.5 billion in sponsored programs funded by federal, state, local and private sources. Preliminary student enrollment exceeded 202,000 in the 2009 academic year. The UT System confers more than one-third of the state's undergraduate degrees and educates nearly three-fourths of the state's health care professionals annually. With more than 84,000 employees, the UT System is one of the largest employers in the state.

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