(Aug. 14, 2019) -- UTSA faculty members Stacey Davis and Dixie Shaw-Tillmon are in Austin today to receive the 2019 UT System Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award. They are among 27 educators from UT System’s 14 academic and health institutions being recognized for their extraordinary classroom performance and innovation in undergraduate instruction.
“These educators are dedicated to continually looking for new and better ways to inspire students to learn and succeed,” said UT System Board of Regents Chairman Kevin Eltife. “And they’re ensuring the next generation, whether they be teachers, scientists or health care providers, is armed with passion and knowledge. Their contributions are immeasurable.”
During today’s UT System Board of Regents meeting, Davis and Shaw-Tillmon will each receive a certificate, a medallion and a check for $25,000.
Davis is an associate professor of music theory and serves as associate chair of the Department of Music in the College of Liberal and Fine Arts. She joined UTSA in 2002 and teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in music theory, aural skills and music psychology and specializes in music perception and cognition.
“I am honored and grateful to receive this recognition, so much of which is a credit to the many outstanding mentors and colleagues that offer me continuous guidance and support,” shared Davis. “It is a joy and privilege to help UTSA music students explore the ways in which a deeper understanding of music theory can aid their skill development and professional preparation. These students inspire me to continue learning as I strive to be an innovative, engaging and connected teacher.”
Deeply committed to her students’ personal and academic success, Davis is lauded for her impeccable clarity in explaining difficult concepts, for being able to inspire a deep love for music analysis and research, and for her ability to encourage students to maintain curiosity, think critically, develop fluent skills and make connections between all aspects of their musicianship.
“Dr. Davis is the epitome of what it means to be an excellent educator. She is kind, caring, organized and passionate about what she does. Dr. Davis’ courses were always immaculately structured, challenging and some of the most impactful courses in my undergraduate career. Years after graduating, I know that Dr. Davis will always be there to give me support or advice when I reach out to her,” shared Sundas Mohi-Truong ’15, a former student who is now an orchestra director at Tompkins High School in Katy, Texas.
Shaw-Tillmon is a lecturer III in the Writing Program within the University College who has taught Freshman Composition courses at UTSA since 2005. Her position as one of the first professors UTSA freshmen encounter is one that she takes very seriously. Her teaching philosophy is simple, yet profound – the most innovative action she can take is to teach her students, not just her subject.
Her mission is to make sure her students know they have the ability to succeed as long as they work hard. She provides constant revision options for her students, which allows them to write multiple drafts, get feedback and continually improve their writing and critical thinking skills.
“What I do is not flashy,” says Shaw-Tillmon. “Writing courses rarely make the news with ground-breaking discoveries. But what I do matters to those future scientists, engineers, and business and community leaders because it is my connection with students and my teaching methods that help them stay in school to achieve their dreams.”
Every semester she receives glowing student evaluations that praise her teaching methods and describe her as “amazing,” “caring” and possessing “a wicked sense of humor.” By all accounts she makes every student feel that she truly cares that they succeed not just on their essays but in life.
Beyond her own classroom, Shaw-Tillmon works tirelessly to align the Writing Program curriculum with national best practices, ensuring that UTSA students receive the best instruction possible. Her efforts have earned her the UTSA Quantitative Literacy Program Faculty Excellence Award (2016) and the UTSA President’s Distinguished Achievement Award in Core Curriculum Teaching (2017).
“For many years, Dixie and Stacey have been among the most highly respected instructors at UTSA who have both changed the lives of many students and inspired fellow faculty with their efforts to help students succeed,” said UTSA Senior Vice Provost Heather Shipley, who was a 2012 recipient of the Regents’ Teaching Award and today oversees the university’s faculty success efforts. “I am thrilled that their hard work, innovation and dedication have been recognized beyond UTSA, earning them a place among the state’s most outstanding professors.”
The ROTA program was established in 2008 to recognize faculty who demonstrate a history and promising future of sustained excellence in undergraduate teaching. Including this year's recipients, 49 UTSA faculty members have received the award. A list of past recipients is available on the UTSA Faculty Awards website.
ROTA recipients are vetted at their own institutions before advancing to compete at the System level. Then, candidates from each institution are evaluated by a selection committee of distinguished educators from both in and outside the UT System.
In their evaluations of a candidate's teaching performance, members of the selection committee consider a range of activities and criteria including classroom expertise, curricula quality, innovative course development and student learning outcomes.
Because of the depth and breadth of educators across the UT System, the awards are among the nation's most competitive.
This fall, Davis and Shaw-Tillmon will become the newest members of the UTSA Academy for Distinguished Teaching Scholars, a group comprised of ROTA winners that provides institutional leadership and guidance for excellent teaching at UTSA.
See the complete list of the 2019 UT System Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award winners.
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