UTSA Faculty Honors Convocation is April 28 at University Center

award winners
award winners

Top row: Can Saygin, Jenifer Thornton, David Hansen
Second row: Jose Lopez-Ribot, Doug E. Frantz, David Heuser
Third row: Richard Gambitta, Lisa Montoya, Christine Mosely
Fourth row: Misty Sailors, Kirsten Gardner, Lindsay G. Ratcliffe

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(April 26, 2011)--UTSA President Ricardo Romo and Provost John Frederick will host the 2011 Faculty Honors Convocation at 10:30 a.m., Thursday, April 28, in the University Center Retama Auditorium (2.02.02) on the Main Campus. UTSA faculty and staff are invited to the ceremony and reception.

In addition to honoring this year's recipients of the President's Distinguished Achievement Awards, the Faculty Honors Convocation honors recent retirees and faculty who have reached service-year milestones. This year, a number of changes were made to the awards program. Most notably, faculty may only win a given award once. Also, instead of having one award selection committee, multiple, smaller committees reviewed the nomination portfolios.

"We revamped the whole process for the presidential awards for 2011," said Nancy Martin, associate vice provost for core curriculum and QEP. "By having multiple review committees, we were able to engage the most qualified people in the selection process and significantly lighten the workload for the awards committees.

"Also, we expect that by allowing faculty to win a given award only once, we will broaden our pool of nominees. Our faculty is composed of brilliant people who do outstanding work, so we want to recognize as many of them as possible."

For more information about the President's Distinguished Achievement Awards and changes in the nomination and review processes, visit the Faculty Awards website.

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Teaching Excellence

Members of the Teaching Excellence Selection Committee noted that the three recipients for this award have a strong commitment to student learning as illustrated by their high expectations and their efforts to provide important learning opportunities for their students.

Can Saygin, associate professor of mechanical engineering in the College of Engineering, will receive the award for tenured faculty. "Dr. Saygin is a highly dedicated selfless professional with the gift of being able to make complex engineering subjects understandable," the selection committee noted. "In each class he knows how to motivate and challenge each student to strive for excellence not only with education but as an engineering professional. He is an approachable teacher who enjoys sharing his extensive knowledge and time with the students to ensure that they understand the subject. His courses are project based, where ingenuity and creativity are emphasized."

Jenifer Thornton, assistant professor in the Department of Interdisciplinary Learning and Teaching, College of Education and Human Development, will receive the award for tenure-track faculty. "Dr. Thornton's teaching philosophy centers on the belief that instructors should meet students where they are, and help students to make personal connections to content," the committee noted. "She firmly embraces the philosophy of differentiation, striving to honor students' diversity by recognizing their individual gifts and strengths, and embracing ways for them to demonstrate their understandings through assignment choice and alternative means of assessment."

David Hansen, lecturer III in the Department of History, College of Liberal and Fine Arts, will receive the award for non-tenure-track faculty. "In his many years of teaching at UTSA, Professor Hansen has proven to be an effective and innovative instructor who has earned the respect and admiration of his students and colleagues," the committee noted. "His approach to the courses he teaches intersects with and builds upon the goals and purposes of the core curriculum. For example, through assignments and course activities, he helps students recognize and understand the roots of historical problems. He uses history as a mechanism for teaching students how to think critically about the present as well as about the past."

 

Research Achievement

Jose Lopez-Ribot, professor of biology in the College of Sciences, will receive the award for tenured faculty. He is a founding member and associate director of the South Texas Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases. His research group studies Candida albicans, a natural fungus found in the body that often causes infections in individuals with weakened immune systems and is one of the leading causes of hospital-acquired infections.

"Dr. Lopez-Ribot is an outstanding senior scientist with a long list of accomplishments, including over 100 refereed papers and invited reviews, three patents awarded or applied for, and a long history of successful research funding," noted the Research Achievement Selection Committee, which was chaired by Charles Wilson.

Doug E. Frantz, assistant professor of chemistry in the College of Sciences, will receive the award for tenure-track faculty. "Since arriving at UTSA as an assistant professor in 2009, Frantz has established a productive and nationally recognized research program in medicinal chemistry," the committee noted. "His work has led to important new findings on cell differentiation that advance the prospects for stem cell treatments of heart disease and cancer." He has received numerous prestigious awards, including the 2010 Voelcker Fund Young Investigator Award.

 

Performance, Creative Production or Other Scholarly Achievement

David Heuser, professor of music in the College of Liberal and Fine Arts, was chosen as recipient of this award based on his compositions, which have been performed at the local, state, regional and national levels.

"Dr. Heuser's work most clearly answers the award criteria regarding its impact on students locally, regionally, and nationally," said committee chair John Silatien. "His opera 'A Short History of Root Vegetables' was composed specifically for our UTSA vocal students, but it also is being performed by other large student opera programs around the country. He composed the orchestral work 'Cauldron' for a youth orchestra in New York, and in May 2011, the Miami Youth Symphony will perform it."

 

Excellence in University Service

Richard Gambitta, professor of political science in the College of Liberal and Fine Arts and the Honors College, will receive the award for tenured/tenure-track faculty. Gambitta's accomplishments include the establishment of the Institute for Law and Public Affairs and, especially, the Summer Law School Preparation Academy, which has become one of the premier pre‐law institutes in the country. He also developed the UTSA Legislative Scholars Program (popularly known as the McClendon Scholars Program), which places UTSA students in legislative internships during sessions of the Texas Legislature. During his tenure as chair of the Department of Political Science and Geography, he spearheaded the development of the Legal Studies minor and the African American Studies minor.

Lisa Montoya, senior lecturer in economics in the College of Business, will receive the award for non-tenure-track faculty. Montoya is director of the Center for Student Professional Development in the College of Business. She also serves on the Undergraduate Programs Committee and the Scholarship Committee and, at the university level, is a member of the Provost's Diversity Advisory Board and the Freshman Experience Task Force; she also co-chairs the President's Alcohol on Campus Committee. One of her most significant service contributions was the creation of the Latino Financial Issues program, which weaves in teaching with community service.

"We felt that both Dr. Gambitta and Dr. Montoya had especially distinguished themselves in service to students -- Dr. Gambitta with pre-law students and Dr. Montoya with business students," said committee chair Ann Eisenberg.

 

Excellence in Community Service

Christine Moseley, professor in the Department of Interdisciplinary Learning and Teaching in the College of Education and Human Development, was selected for her work on various conservation initiatives. "Dr. Moseley has been tireless in her efforts to raise community awareness and advocate for our natural resources, particularly here in San Antonio," said committee chair Roxanne Henkin.

Moseley's achievements include the SAVE partnership that she created with two other colleagues at UTSA. This partnership connected COEHD with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, the San Antonio Parks and Recreation Department, the Texas Wildlife Association, Cibolo Nature Center, San Antonio River Authority and Mitchell Lake National Audubon Center. SAVE's goals include influencing teachers' knowledge of, and interaction with, San Antonio's natural areas and resources. Since the implementation of SAVE five years ago, approximately 1,500 UTSA students and local teachers have received certification in Project WILD, a national conservation program for K-12 educators.

 

Advancing Globalization

Work by Misty Sailors, associate professor in the Department of Interdisciplinary Learning and Teaching in the College of Education and Human Development, has added to both the body of knowledge in her field (literacy and reading teacher education) as well as to the international profile of UTSA. Since joining the university in 2002, Sailors has been awarded nearly $20 million in external research funding for project such as the Textbooks and Learning Materials Program. She has led the COEHD Read Malawi project, which will provide 120 book titles in both English and Chichewan, the native language of Malawi, to 1,000 of the country's 5,000 public schools. In 2005 Sailors spearheaded the $5 million Ithuba Writing Project, an educational partnership between COEHD and USAID that provided approximately two million books for children in South Africa.

 

Core Curriculum Teaching

Kirsten Gardner, associate professor of history in the College of Liberal and Fine Arts, will receive the award for tenured/tenure-track faculty. In her 10 years at UTSA, Gardner has regularly taught a variety of core classes in American studies, women's studies and history.

"Over the years, I have learned that good teachers recognize that the art of teaching is not the art of mastering a subject, but rather the insistence on stretching teaching skills and experiences in order to ensure that students gain the confidence and skills needed to learn in the classroom," Gardner said. "Fulfilling the goals of the Core Curriculum has inspired me to incorporate new ideas, innovate routinely, and constantly consider how and what my students are learning."

Lindsay G. Ratcliffe, lecturer I in the Writing Core program, will receive the award for non-tenure-track faculty. While maintaining academic rigor, Ratcliffe's classroom is learner-centered, her discussion and writing assignment topics are relevant and promote social consciousness in her students, and her delivery is animated and enthusiastic. In addition, she creates activities that enable students to practice the writing process, to evaluate sources critically, to construct and analyze arguments, and to present findings orally -- all concepts and skills expected by the core communications domain.

"Professor Ratcliffe," said one student, "continually made us push ourselves and yearn for more knowledge."