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$15 Million Program to Recognize Top-Notch Teaching, Commercialization Efforts

EL PASO – The University of Texas System Board of Regents today (November 13) approved details of a $15 million initiative that will encourage and recognize extraordinary efforts in undergraduate teaching and commercialization activities at the System’s nine academic institutions.

“Regents place a high priority on outstanding undergraduate teaching and technology transfer, and we want to further encourage such excellence by recognizing those who craft innovative, high-caliber approaches to instruction – as well as those who successfully transform laboratory discoveries into commercial enterprises,” Regents’ Chairman H. Scott Caven, Jr., said.

The initiative effectively creates two awards programs that recognize teaching excellence, one at UT Austin and the other for UT System’s eight other institutions; and another program that supports superior technology transfer and commercialization activities at UT Austin.

One-time awards will range from $15,000 to $30,000, believed to be among the highest offered by any public university system in the nation.

Each program was allocated $1 million per year over five years, and collectively, at least 30 awards are expected to be distributed each year, beginning in the fall 2009 academic year. Teaching awards will be offered to tenured, tenure-track and other faculty, who will be evaluated on sustained excellence in teaching, instructional development, curricular design and advising and mentoring.

The commercialization program effectively establishes a center at UT Austin aimed at accelerating the transfer of university discoveries into commercial products and increasing the number of start-up companies.

“This is an unprecedented commitment to teaching and commercialization excellence within the UT System – perhaps even the entire country – and we believe these programs will elevate the quality of our undergraduate teaching and technology transfer activities to new heights,” said David B. Prior, executive vice chancellor for academic affairs.

The new programs would augment numerous existing UT System initiatives which also aim to recognize outstanding teaching and accelerate commercialization activities across all institutions, such as the annual Chancellor’s Innovations in Education Awards, the Texas Ignition Fund and the Chancellor’s Health Fellows.

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 $11.5 billion (FY 2009) including $2.5 billion in sponsored programs funded by federal, state, local and private sources. Student enrollment exceeded 194,000 in the 2007 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 81,000 employees, the UT System is one of the largest employers in the state.