UT System Regents give Outstanding Teaching Awards to seven Valley faculty members

EDINBURG & BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS – JUNE 17, 2015 – Six faculty members from The University of Texas-Pan American and one from The University of Texas at Brownsville / Texas Southmost College have been selected to receive The University of Texas System Board of Regents' 2015 Outstanding Teaching Award. The award is considered among the highest and most prestigious in the nation to recognize teaching excellence. 

Initiated by the Regents in 2008, the program recognizes tenured, tenure-track and contingent faculty (including lecturers, adjuncts and instructional assistants) for outstanding teaching, mentoring, and personal commitment to students and the learning process, as well as for motivating students in the classroom.

Each honoree receives $25,000 and will be honored at a ceremony Aug. 19 in Austin. 

The award recipients at UTPA and UTB/TSC – among 79 faculty members at the UT System's academic and health institutions honored this year – are:

  • Colin Charlton, Ph.D., associate professor , English, UTPA College of Arts and Humanities (tenured);
  • Jose Gutierrez-Gonzalez, Ph.D., associate professor, Chemistry, UTPA College of Science and Mathematics (tenured);
  • Horacio Vasquez, Ph.D., associate professor, Mechanical Engineering, UTPA College of Engineering and Computer Science (tenured);
  • Christine Reilly, Ph.D., assistant professor, Computer Science, UTPA College of Engineering and Computer Science (tenure-track);
  • Emmett Tomai, Ph.D., assistant professor, Computer Science, UTPA College of Engineering and Computer Science (tenure-track);
  • Jorge Vidal, Ph.D., lecturer I, Economics and Finance, UTPA College of Business Administration (contingent); and
  • Daniel Hunter-Holly, Ph.D., associate professor, Music (voice), UTB/TSC College of Liberal Arts (tenured).

All of this year's winners at UTPA and UTB/TSC have been hired as faculty at the new university – The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley – which opens in September 2015. 

“These amazing educators are responsible for helping to prepare the next generation of great leaders,” Regents Chairman Paul Foster said. “With a total award of more than $1.9 million dollars this year, no other university system in the nation is making this kind of an investment in rewarding outstanding faculty. The efforts of these faculty members significantly enhance the educational experiences of our students and the UT Board of Regents is pleased to have this opportunity to honor them.”

Award recipients are evaluated by peer colleagues, students and each UT System institution president before advancing to consideration at the UT System level. Review categories include classroom expertise, curricula quality, innovative course development and learning outcomes.

The UTPA honorees join 33 other UTPA faculty members who have won the award. At UTB/TSC, 13 faculty members previously have won the Regents’ Award.

More than $15 million has been awarded to deserving faculty members since the program began.

“This recognition of the faculty at UT Pan American and at UT Brownsville / Texas Southmost College is a true testament to their commitment to excellence in teaching and in everything they do to help students be successful,” said Dr. Havidán Rodríguez, UTPA president ad interim and provost and executive vice president for Academic Affairs at UTRGV. “As we transition to UTRGV, our faculty will continue their dedication to excellence and their passion for making a positive impact on our students and the Rio Grande Valley community. We thank the Regents for acknowledging their outstanding accomplishments in such a significant way.” 

A complete list of winners by institution will be available in July at the Regents' Outstanding Teaching Awards website.