(Nov. 21, 2011) -- Richard Gambitta, retired director of the UTSA Institute for Law and Public Affairs and professor of political science, was one of 27 individuals recognized as one of the nation's "U.S. Professors of the Year" at a recent ceremony in Washington, D. C., by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council For Advancement and Support of Education (CASE).
Established in 1981, the "U.S. Professors of the Year" program salutes the nation's most outstanding undergraduate teachers who influence the lives and careers of their students. The award is recognized as one of the most prestigious awards honoring undergraduate teaching.
Among nearly 300 nominees, the winners exhibited extraordinary dedication to undergraduate teaching by demonstrating excellence in several areas including impact on and involvement with undergraduate students, scholarly approach to teaching and learning, contribution to undergraduate education in the institution, community and profession, and support from colleagues and former undergraduate students.
"We are truly proud of all of our outstanding teachers at UTSA, and Richard Gambitta is certainly deserving of this recognition for his many years of service to the university and to our students," said John Frederick, UTSA provost and vice president for academic affairs. "We hope this is the first of many professor-of-the-year awards for UTSA."
Gambitta's education career spanned 35 years at UTSA, where he taught politics, constitutional law, civil liberties and public administration. He chaired the Department of Political Science and Geography and co-founded and supervised the UTSA Summer Law School Preparation Academy (SLSPA). The academy contributed significantly to increasing the number of minority and underrepresented students admitted to more than 150 law schools across the country including top-tier schools such as Harvard, Columbia, Georgetown, California-Berkeley and University of Texas at Austin. Additionally, Gambitta co-founded the UTSA McClendon Legislative Scholars program, which awards $10,000 to 10 selected students who are placed with members of the Texas House of Representatives including the Office of the Speaker of the House.
"Our national vitality and liberty and our local prosperity and competitiveness so greatly depend upon our success in educating our people," said Gambitta. "I have been blessed to have had the opportunity to open intellectual and professional doors for our students and to facilitate a few of their dreams across 35 years, therein contributing to the health, welfare and wisdom of our society, economy and polity. This national recognition of our work at UTSA by the prestigious Carnegie Foundation and CASE lends credence to the significant success of our efforts."
A Fulbright scholar, National Endowment for the Humanities fellow, and Piper professor, Gambitta has presented research across Europe, Asia and North America and his writings have appeared in diverse books and journal articles. A media favorite, Gambitta has served as an adviser to CNN and TBS, written for the "PBS Newshour Online," moderated televised political debates and provided political analysis at the federal, state and local levels for broadcast and print media.
Known for his community involvement, Gambitta currently serves as a commissioner of the San Antonio Housing Authority and chairs the VIA Intra-City Rail and Streetcar Commission, contributing to policy-reform leadership in regional housing and transportation affairs. Formerly, he chaired the board of directors of Goodwill Industries of San Antonio. Additionally, Gambitta has served on the Mayor's Commission on Integrity and Trust in Government, the advisory council to the board of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the advisory committee of the San Antonio Police Department Training Academy.
A recipient of numerous accolades and accomplishments, Gambitta received the 2011 UTSA President's Distinguished Achievement Award for Excellence in University Service, the 2011 Richard Howe Excellence in Service to Undergraduates Award, the UT System Chancellor's Council Outstanding Teaching Award (twice) and the inaugural University of Texas Regents Award for Outstanding Teaching 2009, which provided a $30,000 honorarium.
UTSA prides itself on giving students a well-rounded education. Combining a top-tier academic program with opportunities for personal growth prepares students to compete in a global economy. And that's not all. They learn to be informed and engaged citizens as well. At the heart of that academic program is an award-winning core curriculum.
For four consecutive years, UTSA has received an A-rating from the American Council of Trustees and Alumni for the caliber of its core curriculum. According to ACTA, UTSA requires its students to take six of the seven courses deemed "crucial" to a well-rounded education: composition, literature, U.S. government or history, economics, mathematics and science. Only a handful of other institutions in the U.S. are giving students these tools, which are needed to succeed in careers and the community.
Did you know? UTSA is one of only three Texas institutions and 23 in the United States to receive the highest rating for its core curriculum in the 2014-2015 edition of the ACTA's "What Will They Learn?" report.
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