UT announces recipients of Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award

Matthew Adams

UT announced Monday 11 faculty members have received the Regents' Outstanding Teaching Award.

The award, given by the Board of Regents, was established in 2008 to recognize the University’s highest level of educators in the classroom, laboratory, their field or online teaching, according to the University press release.

The 11 faculty winners will each receive $25,000, and a ceremony will be held Aug. 19 at the JW Marriott in Austin, according to the press release.

Paul Foster, chairman of the Board of Regents, said in a statement the amount of money available allows the Board to give and do something different from other universities.

“With a total of more than $1.9 million dollars this year, no other university system in the nation is making this kind of an investment in rewarding outstanding faculty,” Foster said in a statement. “The efforts of these faculty members significantly enhances the educational experiences of our students, and the UT Board of Regents is pleased to honor them.”

Roberta Rincon, UT System employee, said the Board’s process includes department and college nominations which must be submitted around September and portfolios which must be submitted by March.

During this process, faculty members are required to put together a 150 page portfolio that includes their teaching philosophy, letters of recommendations from students and peers, and student evaluations, Rincon said.

Rincon said once the faculty members have been reviewed within their college, the University reviews the selections and then submits it to the Board.   

H.W. Perry Jr., a government and law professor, said he appreciates the award because it provides an outside verification that teaching is still important, and the time former students put into the letters of recommendation means a lot.

Perry said he believes it is important for students to take responsibility for their actions when they are in a smaller classroom setting.

“One thing I am known for is teaching with the Socratic method,” Perry said. “On the first day of class I tell students they have to come to class to be prepared and be called on. They will have to learn to speak and think on their feet. Teaching with the method, you spend a lot of time with a student and if they just trying to fake their way through, then they are wasting their colleagues time.”

While this can be tough for students, Perry said the Socratic method does challenge students and he sees students perform at a higher level.

Christine Julien, associate professor in the Cockrell School of Engineering, said when she first started teaching, she did not know what it took to prepare and deliver a lecture.

Once she gained experience, Julien said something she has worked on is better assessing what students are actually learning.

“I have figured out clever ways to assess what students have learned besides just regurgitating the information,” Julien said. “There are easy ways for students to get around the assessment and convince me they have learned something. I have done a better job of making assessments that are more interesting and measures something meaningful.”