MAY 1, 2023 — Langston Clark, an associate professor in the UTSA College of Education and Human Development (COEHD) and the College for Health, Community and Policy (HCAP), has been named a 2023 Piper Professor Award recipient. The award, established by the San Antonio-based Minnie Stevens Piper Foundation in 1958, recognizes 10 college professors each year from across Texas for their outstanding academic, scientific and scholarly achievements.
Clark, who teaches aspiring physical education (P.E.) instructors and researches the intersection of athletics, race and education, is the 12th UTSA faculty member to receive the award.
“Professor Clark’s deep commitment to the student experience and student success goes far beyond the classroom and is evident through the positive impact he has had on his students,” said UTSA Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Kimberly Andrews Espy. “This well-deserved recognition is indicative of the vital work he is doing to guide and inspire the teachers of tomorrow and the dedication of UTSA’s extraordinary faculty who are making a difference every day.”
Clark discovered a passion for education early in his life. As a sixth grader, he volunteered as a peer assistant for a physical education program geared toward students with disabilities. That experience introduced him to adapted physical education. In high school, he took advantage of similar opportunities by teaching at the campus daycare and working as a health and P.E. teaching assistant for elementary school students.
“These experiences were foundational to my decision to pursue a career in teaching,” Clark said. “I have committed myself to the training of future teachers, because I understand the value of a healthy educational ecosystem as pivotal to individual growth and the progress of society as a whole.”
Clark’s interest in adapted physical activity grew during his undergraduate studies at North Carolina A&T State University, where he enrolled in a course about disabilities and movement. The class provided him the opportunity to work directly with individuals with disabilities and is like the adaptive P.E. course he now teaches to his own students.
Clark earned his doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction with a concentration in physical education teacher education (PETE) from the University of Texas at Austin. He joined UTSA in 2015 and is now a member of HCAP’s Department of Kinesiology, where he serves as coordinator for its P.E. teacher education program and COEHD’s Department of Interdisciplinary Learning and Teaching (ILT). The largest department in COEHD, ILT prepares students to become effective educators and leaders in culturally diverse settings by emphasizing the importance of inclusivity, equity and collaboration in education.
Having earned his bachelor’s degree from North Carolina A&T—a Historically Black University—and now teaching at a Hispanic Serving Institution, Clark cares deeply about contributing to ILT’s mission and to the continued development of minority-serving institutions.
When it comes to his own teaching methodology and his students’ success, Clark gives credit to the influential professors he had throughout his education, as they were a key part in his development as a teacher.
“Honestly, I wish I could tell you that I use some innovative approaches to teaching Black, Brown, Latinx and first-generation college students, but I do not,” Clark said. “My secret is that I was actually taught how to teach. This training allows me to effectively modify my teaching and advocate for students with diverse abilities.”
Clark has positively affected countless Roadrunners during his eight years at UTSA. In addition to helping his students academically, Clark is also a mentor for both current and former students.
“No other professor has impacted my studies and interest to continue growth in graduate school as Dr. Clark has,” said Omar Sanchez, one of Clark’s past students who is now pursuing a doctorate at The Ohio State University. “He never once stopped offering advice after I took his class. He is the reason I proudly say I am a first-generation Hispanic college graduate.”
Brandon Boyd, another former student, mentioned the invaluable guidance that Clark provided while he was navigating his next steps after graduate school.
“Dr. Clark has been an inspirational figure who has helped guide my path to success as an aspiring physical therapist and university instructor,” Boyd said. “His dedication to his students and community is unmatched.”
Clark’s commitment to his students extends outside of the classroom. He serves as faculty leader for the UTSA Black Student Initiatives fundraiser, which supports programming for Black student leaders on campus. At North Carolina A&T, he founded and continues to be involved with a group of scholars called ‘From A&T to Ph.D.,’ which fosters a community of support for students pursuing doctoral degrees at the institution.
“I am committed to increasing the quality of the student experience in higher education,” Clark said. “Ultimately, my purpose for providing a high-quality education for my students is that it is essential for their development as individuals who contribute to their families, their communities and society.”
In addition to the Piper Professor Award, Clark is a Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow for the 2022-2023 academic year. This prestigious award is offered through the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, one of the most competitive scholarly programs in the nation. He is also the recipient of over a half dozen awards recognizing his contributions to the fields of health and physical education as an early career scholar.
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