AUSTIN – In recognition of their classroom excellence, 72 educators from institutions within The University of Texas System will share $1.8 million in awards, and will be honored during a special ceremony next week.
The educators will be honored as the 2011 Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award winners during an Aug. 24 ceremony on the UT Austin campus. The cash awards, which range from $15,000 to $30,000 – and believed to be among the nation’s highest for higher education faculty – are given to faculty members at UT System academic institutions who demonstrate extraordinary classroom performance and innovation at the undergraduate level. The event will mark the program’s third year.
A complete list of names and the institutions at which they teach is available online.
“Exceptional university teaching has been at the core of the services our universities provide to our students since our inception in 1883. When most of us reflect back on our college experience one or more great educators who left an indelible mark on our lives come to mind. I think of my mentor, teacher and friend, Dr. John Bickley, in front of a class at UT Austin. Dr. Bickley would be so proud that in 2011 the Regents are recognizing and rewarding great teaching,” said Regent’s Chairman Gene Powell.
“Today the Board of Regents considers it a true honor and privilege to recognize another class of great educators from across the University of Texas System with not only a ceremonial event but with much deserved financial rewards. The Board is committed to continuing the process of seeking out, hiring and rewarding great teachers and the Board looks forward to holding these ceremonies for many years to come,” Powell added.
Award nominees must demonstrate a clear commitment to teaching and a sustained ability to deliver excellence to the undergraduate learning experience. Candidates’ teaching performance over three years was rigorously examined by campus and external judges.
“It is our System’s responsibility to provide an exceptional education to our students, and we believe this award program not only furthers that goal, but helps promote a culture of excellence that produces better teaching, better learning and, ultimately, better prepared graduates to enter our work force,” said UT System Chancellor Francisco G. Cigarroa, M.D. “These awards have proved to be so successful in promoting outstanding teaching that we hope to expand the program to our health institutions as well.”
Additionally, students, peer faculty and external reviewers considered a range of activities and criteria, including classroom expertise, quality of curriculum, 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.
Among those that will be honored this year are 38 tenured faculty members, who each received $30,000 awards. Seventeen tenure-track faculty each will receive $25,000 awards and another 17 contingent faculty each are to receive $15,000 awards. Besides the cash awards, winners also will receive a bronze medallion and a certificate commemorating the achievement.
“Outside of the recognition of the students, the core activity of teaching largely goes unnoticed,” said Charlotte Canning, a theater arts professor at UT Austin who is among this year’s awardees. “The Regents Award is especially welcome, however, because it brings the great diversity of excellent teaching to the attention of those outside the classroom and communicates to the state what individual students have long known: with a great teacher behind you there are no limits to what you can achieve,” she added.
The awards program – established by the Board of Regents in August 2008 – has recognized 217 educators spanning more than 100 disciplines. The awards are 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 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.
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 $12.8 billion (FY 2011) including $2.3 billion in sponsored programs funded by federal, state, local and private sources. Preliminary student enrollment exceeded 211,000 in the 2010 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 68,000 employees, the UT System is one of the largest employers in the state.