University establishes Academy of Distinguished Teaching Scholars

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(May 21, 2012) --In recognition of the preeminent role of instructional faculty in advancing knowledge, The University of Texas at San Antonio has established the Academy of Distinguished Teaching Scholars.

UTSA's 17 recipients of the UT System Regents' Outstanding Teaching Awards were inducted as charter members of the academy. They include College of Architecture faculty member John Alexander; College of Business faculty members Tom Cannon, Rick Utecht and Ermine Orta; College of Education and Human Development faculty members Janis Harmon, Maria Kaylor and Alycia Maurer; College of Engineering faculty members Sazzad Bin-Shafique and Chunjiang Qian; College of Liberal and Fine Arts faculty members Mark Allen, Karen Dodwell, Daniel Engster, Kolleen Guy, Amy Jasperson, Mary McNaughton-Cassill and John Miller Morris; and University College faculty member Diane Abdo.

As part of a May 4 ceremony launching the academy, members signed a charter, along with President Ricardo Romo and Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs John Frederick.

"Recognizing our most effective classroom teachers is important in continuing to foster a culture of excellence at UTSA," said Frederick. "But beyond that, this academy also will be a working group, charged with advocating exceptional teaching and learning practices across our campuses."

"The academy members will serve as a much-needed resource to their faculty colleagues and especially to the Teaching and Learning Center," said Krisellen Maloney, dean of the UTSA Libraries. The TLC is under the UTSA Libraries, and Maloney was instrumental in helping launch the Academy of Distinguished Teaching Scholars.

"They will provide guidance and feedback for TLC programs and initiatives, conduct teaching seminars and also mentor new faculty," she said.

Membership in the academy will be limited to five percent of the overall faculty and will be open to any future recipients of the Regents' Teaching Award. For years in which no Regents' Awards are given, a similar process will be followed for selecting new members.

Academy members have been planning since earlier in the year and already have benefited from meeting and learning from each other, said Karen Dodwell, senior lecturer in the Department of English.

"We've discussed differences among disciplines and differences between teaching a graduate seminar versus a large class in an auditorium," Dodwell said. "It's important to note that the academy will not be advocating a one-size-fits-all technique; rather, we are eager to share what has worked for us with other teachers and also to learn from other teachers."

In addition to being an internal campus resource, Tom Cannon said the establishment of the academy sends a strong message to the community that the university places a high value on its teaching mission.

"Tier One means having excellent teaching faculty and excellent researchers," said Cannon, senior lecturer in the Department of Marketing. "Parents want to send their children to a university that will educate them, teach them and provide them with the skill sets and knowledge to begin their careers."

"From my perspective, the academy shows our external audiences that we have the faculty here who can do that."