UT professor emeritus James Stice receives lifetime achievement award

Eunice Ali

James Stice, the Bob R. Dorsey Professor Emeritus in the Cockrell School of Engineering, received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Society for Engineering Education on June 16. 

The award recognizes his accomplishment on enhancing teaching effectiveness. Norman Fortenberry, the society’s executive director, said he was honored to recognize Stice’s achievement. 

“Dr. Stice is a pioneer in engineering education,” Fortenberry said. “He inspired and mentored multiple generations of faculty members.”

Stice taught in the McKetta Department of Chemical Engineering for a total of 28 years. During his early years as a faculty member, Stice said he founded and served as the first director of the Center for Teaching Effectiveness. This initiative, which was at first intended for new faculty hires in engineering, was quickly expanded for other faculty members across campus, according to Stice.

Although the the center was eventually closed, educational psychology professor Marilla Svinicki said it leaves a lasting impact.

“When [the center] was in place, it raised [awareness]…of the idea of general teaching skills,” Svinicki said. “It wasn’t something that a lot of people bought into at the time.” 

Svinicki, who has worked together with Stice for 15 years, served as the center’s director after Stice stepped down from the position to return to teaching full-time.

In 1991, Stice also co-founded the National Effective Teaching Institute under the American Society of Engineering Education. The institute offers workshops for engineering instructors.

Svinicki said Stice enjoyed working with students more than doing research during his time teaching on campus.

“He was the most curious person, always willing to try something new,” Svinicki said. “Students were always in his office talking to him. They remembered him.”

Thomas Truskett, chair of the McKetta Department of Chemical Engineering, experienced firsthand Stice’s passion for teaching. 

“I took a senior-level chemical engineering class from him in the ‘90s,” Truskett said. “He was always the professor that everyone wanted to take. He was able to give you a very realistic [picture] of how the things he was teaching you had an actual impact on the chemical engineering profession to this day, such as how chemical plants are built and how they work and what can go wrong.”

Correction: An earlier version of this article misquoted Truskett about chemical plants and failed to refer to the chemical engineering department by its full name, the McKetta Department of Chemical Engineering, in his title.