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UT Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award Winners

2012-2013

Michael A. Abebe, Ph.D.
Michael A. Abebe, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Department of Management
College of Business Administration

I strongly believe that, as educators, our roles as teachers and researchers are closely intertwined. Hence, an effective research program informs and invigorates the classroom experience. My teaching philosophy in general emphasizes relevance and critical thinking. I often customize my teaching approaches and techniques to the specific learning context. My teaching philosophy is strongly embedded on research-infused teaching. I believe that effective teachers not only convey new knowledge to their students but also help them discover their independent intellectual voice through critical thinking. I continue to strive to create an intellectually challenging, tolerant and relevant learning environment.

 
Marci R. McMahon, Ph.D.
Marci R. McMahon, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Department of English
College of Arts & Humanities

In my literature courses, I guide students to explore the concept of positionality– that is, how their life experiences and characteristics, compared with those of others, shape their perspectives on and their actions in the world. In doing so, I hope to deepen my students' capacities for critical self-reflection, while also expand their abilities to bridge the theoretical and historical with the personal and the political. In order to achieve these aims within the literature classroom, I balance a traditional close reading approach to narrative with lessons and assignments that connect our literature to pertinent social issues of the day.

 
Karen Lozano, Ph.D.
Karen Lozano, Ph.D.
Professor and Julia Beecherl Endowed Chair
Department of Mechanical Engineering
College of Engineering & Computer Science

I design my classes and research activities to provide students with opportunities to spark their imagination, curiosity, creativity and critical thinking skills to engage them in their studies and guarantee their success. With these activities, students learn complex concepts, develop writing and presentation skills, face failure and solve problems, design a path for success and develop time management skills.

 
Maria Cristina Villalobos, Ph.D.
Maria Cristina Villalobos, Ph.D.
Associate Professor and Founding Director, Center of Excellence in STEM Education
Department of Mathematics
College of Science & Mathematics

Challenging students and giving them the opportunities to explore and discover builds their confidence in the subject area. I try to unlock their fullest potential and mentor them in their academic and professional careers and guide those pursuing graduate studies. It is wonderful to see that light ignite when they understand and make connections.

 
Emmy Pérez
Gustavo G. Dietrich
Lecturer
Department of Computer Science
College of Engineering & Computer Science

I strive to be a compassionate educator that cares not only about the student's learning of the specific subject matter of the course but also about those aspects that will make them better human beings. I always tell my students "when I see you, I see my children" and that is how I treat them.

 
Dumitru Caruntu, Ph.D., P.E.
Dumitru Caruntu, Ph.D., P.E.
Associate Professor
Department of Mechanical Engineering
College of Engineering & Computer Science

My strong belief is that teaching engineering has to be exciting and inspiring. Discovering new engineering challenges, problems and solutions is the main focus of instruction. Students have to get from their professors the enthusiasm and the tools for succeeding in their careers and becoming long-lasting engineering learners. It is amazing how they learn to be creative, yet very analytical in their approaches, and passionate, yet careful and rigorous in their conclusions. I always thought that if the students are excited about the material I teach and understand it, then they can perform and they like it.

 

2011-2012

Arturo Fuentes, Ph.D.
Arturo Fuentes, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Department of Mechanical Engineering
College of Engineering & Computer Science

To current and prospective engineering students, I demonstrate my passion and enthusiasm for the subject matter and my commitment to their academic and professional success. I strive to provide the best educational experience and to promote high standards by being a role model. My teaching efforts include designing and implementing effective student challenges that take place inside and outside the classroom. These motivate and engage students and provide formative feedback to help them achieve their full potential.

 
Caroline Suzanne Miles, Ph.D.
Caroline Suzanne Miles, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Department of English
College of Arts & Humanities

In my students, I aim to cultivate intellectual curiosity, creativity and the desire for lifelong learning, instill the practical individual and collaborative skills necessary to be successful in the workforce, and encourage a sense of civic responsibility and ethical regard for others in regional, national and global contexts. I work to develop a dynamic curriculum that is relevant to my students’ lives and futures, that pushes them to think beyond their comfort zone, and that will ultimately contribute to stronger communities. At the same time, rather than adhering to a strict teaching philosophy, I constantly rethink and revise my approach to teaching through an ongoing dialogue with new pedagogies and technologies, my students and the environment in which I teach.

 
Kamal Sarkar, Ph.D.
Kamal Sarkar, Ph.D.
Lecturer
Department of Mechanical Engineering
College of Engineering & Computer Science

In my mind, the duty of a teacher is to foster a passion for knowledge in students. Ultimately, students are our ambassadors. Their success is our success!

 
Sonia Hernandez, Ph.D.
Sonia Hernandez, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Department of History & Philosophy
College of Arts & Humanities

If students acquire knowledge about their history, their family, and their communities they are able to make connections to their place in our nation; they will then realize that they have a responsibility to it. I strive to transform my students into practicing historians and my responsibility to them, the community, and to the profession of history is to help students see themselves as real historians who critically think about the past in ways that will enrich their present. In this way, history is meaningful, thought-provoking, and instills a passion for this type of problem solving in a compassionate, balanced and creative way.

 
Emmy Pérez
Emmy Pérez
Associate Professor
Department of English
College of Arts & Humanities

Exchanging and discussing work in a compassionate, rigorous creative writing workshop can be a form of gift-giving when participants rise to the challenge of excellence and innovation in their writing and criticism. Writing well in any genre is a powerful skill that leads to more opportunities in life and can help in the pursuit of social justice for our communities. When creative writing students lead service learning literacy projects in community and detention centers, they teach academic techniques in their service while improving their own writing as their audiences expand from the classroom into the community.

 
Aje-Ori Agbese, Ph.D.
Aje-Ori Agbese, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Department of Communication
College of Arts & Humanities

My teaching is based on one of my favorite sayings – “Don’t just pass through the university. Let the university pass through you.” Whether it’s writing news stories, preparing the front page of a newspaper or magazine, learning about culture or musing on the media’s influence, I want my students to gain the knowledge and skills that will help them appreciate diversity and be open to various experiences. I want them to be active and responsible participants in their education by taking part in activities and opportunities beyond the classroom so they can get a taste of "real world" situations and are better prepared to face whatever comes their way.

 

2010-2011

Linda Belau, Ph.D.
Linda Belau, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Department of English
College of Arts & Humanities

Since practical instruction and the passing on of positive knowledge can be taught directly, it is the primary purpose of teaching as I see it. The other side of education—the developing of open-minded learners—cannot be directly taught without simply indoctrinating one's students. To keep the classroom space open and democratic, this part of education must always remain the indirect result of teaching. Through commitment to diversity, creativity, flexibility, and responsibility in the classroom, I find that I can reach my students in a number of ways that attends to both direct and indirect modes of learning.

 
Theron Francis, Ph.D.
Theron Francis, Ph.D.
Lecturer
Department of English
College of Arts & Humanities

I believe in learning by doing. My students and I learn best by doing useful research that serves the communities we live in. An ethical purpose, which helps students think about local and global relationships, inspires our work. For me this is advocating for the environment that sustains us.

 

2009-2010

Elvia Ardalani, Ed.D.
Elvia Ardalani, Ed.D.
Assistant Professor
Modern Languages & Literatures Department
College of Arts & Humanities

Teaching is an absolute privilege. For me, the classroom offers the possibility to empower the students by means of cultural acknowledgement and the power of writing. An individual who writes is above all an individual who has read, reflected and quantified the importance of personal experience within the academic framework.

 
Muhammad I. Bhatti, Ph.D.
Muhammad I. Bhatti, Ph.D.
Professor of Physics
Department of Physics and Geology
College of Science & Mathematics

My teaching philosophy hinges on the fact that we are living in a period of rapid changes. As a result, it is more important than ever to convince students that expanding and deepening our base of knowledge is a worthwhile endeavor. I am privileged to teach and to guide my students to learn the subject of Physics, which is the basis for modern science. As an educator, I always try to turn my students’ minds on by using the inquiry approach to learning. To see gains in their understanding — these are the most rewarding moments of my career. Students demand respect, enthusiasm and excitement inside and outside of the classroom. I am always ready to support and provide for them.

 
Kenneth L. Buckman, Ph.D.
Kenneth L. Buckman, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Department of History and Philosophy
College of Arts & Humanities

Whatever the vehicle or mode of presentation one uses, to enter a classroom means to intend to be the most challenging, the most fair, and the most rewarding teacher students will have at this institution or any institution. Teaching means to stimulate student imagination and creativity, to cultivate powerful standards, to engender a profound sense of self and to nurture a deep and enduring ethicality.

 
Jessica Lavariega Monforti, Ph.D.
Jessica Lavariega Monforti, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Political Science, Senior Faculty Research Associate, Center for Survey Research
Department of Political Science
College of Arts & Humanities

I love teaching students about the things that will impact their lives — to talk to them about their rights and responsibilities as citizens and residents is powerful for me and for them.

 
Hassan Ahmad, Ph.D.
Hassan Ahmad, Ph.D.
Professor
Department of Chemistry
College of Science & Mathematics

Teaching and learning is a process in which often difficult and unfamiliar subject content is made more meaningful by effective communication. In biochemistry, providing everyday real-life examples makes learning much more meaningful and fun. In the classroom setting or with one-to-one teaching, I consider myself a facilitator of learning and often allow students to take the center stage. Listening to students’ comments and questions is something I consider essential in my teaching practice. I promote critical thinking and expect students to become skillful listeners. As an effective teacher, it is imperative that I maintain a welcoming atmosphere in the classroom by getting to know my students as individuals as well as a class.

 
Brian J. Warren, Ed.D.
Brian J. Warren, Ed.D.
Lecturer
Creative Drama and Children’s Theatre Specialist, Department of Communication
College of Arts & Humanities

Through use of an energetic and genuinely devoted approach to leading students, I endeavor to constantly “sell” my subject matter while also exhibiting a personal stake in my discipline by my own professional involvement. This encourages active participation from the students, and I am never more gratified than when my students make practical, consistent and responsible application of the concepts learned in my courses.

 

2008-2009

Stephanie Alvarez
Stephanie Alvarez, Ph. D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Modern Languages and Literature
College of Arts & Humanities

"By employing and utilizing an assets-based approach to education, we as educators can help uncover and tap into the many strengths our students bring to the classroom every day. One of the greatest rewards as an educator is providing students with the opportunities to tap into their strengths, acquire and create knowledge both inside and outside of the classroom."

 
Bimal K. Banik, Ph.D. C .Chem. F.R.S.C.
Bimal K. Banik, Ph.D. C .Chem. F.R.S.C.
President’s Endowed Professor (Science & Engineering) and Professor of Chemistry
Department of Chemistry
College of Science & Mathematics

"The extreme satisfaction and remarkable joy in teaching and mentoring has prompted me to continue in my profession to produce outstanding students and direct them in world-class science. I have the opportunity and privilege to engage students in the wonder of science in the classroom and the research laboratory, to excite students about their career paths, and to develop the next generation of researchers and educators. By providing support activities such as advising, mentoring, academic, research enrichment and scientific development training, I hope to contribute to increasing the number of students entering in higher education."

 
Deborah L. Cole, Ph.D.
Deborah L. Cole, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Department of English
College of Arts & Humanities

“Whenever I am asked, ‘How do you like your job?’ my first and honest response is, ‘I love my students!’ Their genuine curiosity about other languages and cultures and the diversity of their own voices inspire me to create a learning environment where they feel comfortable and confident participating in scholarly conversations. When I treat my students like linguists, anthropologists, and teachers, they respond with excellence, engagement, and professionalism.”

 
Robert A. Freeman, Ph.D.
Robert A. Freeman, Ph.D.
Professor
Department of Mechanical Engineering
College of Engineering & Computer Science

"I believe one should focus on developing an effective classroom environment. This means first and foremost to come to class prepared (and on time). This requires a well-developed understanding of the desired student learning outcomes for the course and a thorough understanding of the knowledge associated with those outcomes, and the ability to present that knowledge in a number of different modes. In other words, create a knowledge-centered and learner-centered environment. Beyond those two attributes, and as professed by the National Academy sponsored study on How People Learn, strive to create a community-centered and assessment-centered environment. I try to address the community aspect by engaging students in the classroom dialog, by encouraging collaboration, and by including group assignments. The assessment aspect is tougher to deal with in light of the time required to provide immediate formative assessment. However, at a minimum one should provide immediate feedback via detailed solution keys to assignments and exams made available the moment those articles are due. Finally, never forget what it is like to be the student."

 
Kimberly A. Selber, Ph.D.
Kimberly A. Selber, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Communication
College of Arts & Humanities

"I believe that teaching that takes place outside of the formal classroom is sometimes more valuable than that which happens within a formal structure. I don’t see my responsibilities ending at the classroom door, nor do I see them ending at graduation."

 
Constantine M. Tarawneh, Ph.D.
Constantine M. Tarawneh, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Department of Mechanical Engineering
College of Engineering & Computer Science

"My teaching philosophy is based on the premise that good teaching starts with discipline. I am a strong believer that the first two things the students should learn are discipline and commitment before they can excel in their area. If you can get the students to invest time and effort into your course then they will be much more likely to succeed."