APRIL 8, 2021 — Hector Aguilar, distinguished senior lecturer in the Department of Chemistry, has been selected as a fellow in The University of Texas System Academy of Distinguished Teachers. He is the third UTSA faculty member to be inducted into this esteemed group of educators.
The academy recognizes outstanding educators who are leaders in education committed to improving the student learning experience. Established in 2012, the academy selects educators across The University of Texas System’s eight academic institutions. Fellows of the academy serve as the system-level advisory and advocacy group devoted to cultivating classroom innovation, interdisciplinary educational perspectives and promoting best practices for undergraduate instruction throughout UT System campuses.
“I am blessed to have a career that allows me to live my passion of educating, mentoring, and guiding students toward their future ambitions,” said Aguilar. “I am honored and excited to be part of this extraordinary group of educators, and I look forward to contributing to the academy’s mission to actively advocate for exemplary undergraduate learning across the UT System.”
Aguilar is setting the standard for what it means to be an exemplary teacher. His passion and enthusiasm for chemistry makes his courses some of the most popular on campus, engaging students with innovative new methods of instruction. Aguilar’s commitment to student engagement ensures his students can apply what they’ve learned to be competitive in the workforce.
“Dr. Aguilar has a talent for engaging undergraduate students, particularly underrepresented and first-generation students, and helping them succeed,” said Kimberly Andrews Espy, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs. “What sets him apart is his true dedication to creating experiential learning opportunities in the classroom.”
Aguilar earned his Ph.D. from UTSA in 2013 and takes every opportunity to help his students succeed both inside and outside of the classroom. He serves as assistant director at UTSA for the National Institutes of Health–funded Enhancing Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Educational Diversity program, which provides valuable opportunities to underrepresented and first-generation students.
He also cocreated and codirects the College of Sciences’ honors program and has collaborated with the Honors College to create a streamlined program for honors students interested in the sciences. He is an elected member of the Honors College Advisory Council and the Instructional Advisory Board. Aguilar is also the faculty adviser for the American Chemical Society Student Affiliated Chapter and the Pre-Pharmacy Organization at UTSA.
Aguilar has a distinguished list of accomplishments
Hector Aguilar’s most recent accolades include the highly competitive Regents' Outstanding Teaching Award in 2017. He was also inducted into the UTSA Academy of Distinguished Teaching Scholars that same year. Aguilar in 2018 received the UTSA Innovation Award and the Honors Alliance Award from honors students. Aguilar in 2020 received UTSA’s President’s Distinguished Achievement Award for Excellence in University Service.
Travis Menard, a Roadrunner alumnus who is now pursuing his graduate education at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, realized Aguilar was different from his other undergraduate instructors when, despite the large class size, Aguilar took the time to learn all his students’ names. Menard’s career trajectory, he said, was influenced in large part by Aguilar.
“Many of my most fond memories are from taking classes with and working for Dr. Aguilar,” said Menard. “I learned more than I ever thought I could about a topic I never knew I would be interested in. His courses helped me to not only find my ganas (“passion”) but also gave me the skills necessary to further pursue it.”
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