Associate dean to receive award for contributions to the University

Cinnamon Cornell

In 1975, Lawrence Abraham moved from New York on a whim to take a job teaching at UT. This spring, Abraham, now associate dean of the School of Undergraduate Studies, will receive the Civitatis Award for his contributions to the University.

Established in 1997, the Civitatis Award recognizes faculty who have represented outstanding faculty citizenship at the University. During the spring semester, the committee submits three nominations to the president for consideration. 

Deborah Roberts, executive assistant for the undergraduate studies, said Abraham qualified for the award due to his development, implementation and assessment of the University’s core curriculum.

“[Abraham] exemplifies in [his] own way the outstanding faculty citizenship that this prestigious award recognizes,” Roberts said.

Abraham is a professor in the department of kinesiology and health education. He teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in motor-skill learning and biomechanics of human movement.

“I have always been interested in sports and physical activity,” Abraham said. “When I was a junior in college, I decided to change my major from geology to physical education and to earn a teaching certificate so I could pursue a career in that field.”

Abraham said he is interested in studying the coordination and control of human movement. This work combines kinesiology with biomedical engineering and neuroscience to examine how and why people do or do not move skillfully.

“I have been engaged in a variety of research projects that have allowed my students, my colleagues, and [I] to explore many cross-disciplinary aspects of human-movement coordination and control” Abraham said.

Abraham said most of the undergraduate students take his courses to fulfill a requirement, so he tries to help each student get beyond that requirement and find parts of the material they want to learn more about.

“My main goal is for students to learn ideas and ways of thinking that will stick with them,” Abraham said. “When they are asking questions about the content that push the class to new issues, I feel the best learning is going on.”

Samantha Gottlich, department of kinesiology and health education specialist, said as a graduate student she couldn’t have imagined having a better advisor and mentor. Gottlich said Abraham is generous, welcoming and dedicated to his students.

“[Abraham] provided guidance in the right amount and time, but he also respected the learning process enough to let me wrestle with problems and try and find solutions on my own before he helped me formulate an answer,” Gottlich said. “He taught me the value of asking questions and experiencing the discovery of the answer.”