‘Think, feel, experience’

  Tuesday, June 26, 2018
  Awards and Recognitions

By Amanda Taylor

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, TEXAS – Dr. Cory Wimberly, associate professor of philosophy at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, views his teaching style as performance, in the theoretical sense.

The act of teaching is just as important as the lessons taught, he says, and the ultimate goal is getting students to think and become submerged in the material.

“Students learn more from having their own powerful philosophical experiences than from watching me talk about mine,” Wimberly said. “They have to think, feel and experience.”

Wimberly has applied this pedagogy to the classroom for 12 years, contributing to his designation this year as a recipient of The University of Texas System Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award (ROTA).

‘‘I love taking students through the basic philosophies of the different political parties and positions.
—Dr. Cory Wimberly, associate professor of philosophy’’

Overall, 27 faculty members throughout UT System universities have received the prestigious ROTA. Two are from UTRGV, to include Wimberly and Dr. Dagoberto Ramirez of University College.

“I am surprised by how I feel about the win,” Wimberly said. “I am certainly excited and honored as one might expect, but I also feel driven by the award. Oftentimes, awards feel like validation or recognition of hard work. But in this case, it feels like a debt to all future students to continue to improve and offer them the best experience possible.”

Wimberly currently teaches Continental Philosophy. It centers on cutting-edge philosophy from Europe and gives students an inside look into prisons, gender, sexuality, art, democracy and ethics. Another of his courses, a hybrid called Philosophy 1362: Race, Sexuality and Class, won the Hybrid Excellence Award for being recognized as the best hybrid course at UTRGV in 2017.

Wimberly’s primary focus of study in philosophy is on propaganda, which he believes holds content that builds reading, writing, critical thinking and speaking skills.

“I love taking students through the basic philosophies of the different political parties and positions,” he said. “Social issues like race, class, gender, and sexuality are always hot button issues, so they bring energy and intensity. Students and I get a kick out of the analysis of propaganda and examining it from different points of view.”

UTRGV’s Dr. Alexander V. Stehn, associate professor of Philosophy and faculty affiliate in Mexican American Studies, in his ROTA letter to nominate Wimberly, said Wimberly’s courses present an invaluable contribution to the advancement of curriculum within the philosophy department.

“Wimberly’s Special Topics course on propaganda examined some of the most important classic sources on the topic of propaganda, but also sent students to local archives to conduct research about the propaganda that was used to ‘sell’ people the idea of moving to the Rio Grande Valley,” Stehn said. “By incorporating this material into his course, Dr. Wimberly not only fostered original undergraduate research, but went on to incorporate this original research material into his introductory courses. Simply put, Dr. Wimberly is an outstanding teacher who, in my estimation, is deserving of the UT Regent’s Teaching Award.”

Dr. Ken Buckman, retired UTPA professor of Philosophy and recipient of the Minnie Stephens Piper Award, was a peer reviewer who personally observed Wimberly’s teaching efforts and said the students were highly involved with the material.

“His classrooms are a buzz of discussion and work as students are engaged in doing philosophy themselves,” Buchman said. “I have seen Dr. Wimberly progress since I watched his teaching demonstration in his interview, to his present efforts. He is passionate about his students’ success, as well as assisting and emotionally involving his students in the intellectual engagement of philosophy.”

Crediting his department as a whole, Wimberly says he works with talented educators who go both recognized and unrecognized for their continuous efforts. He said he hopes to continue to uphold the high standards of UTRGV’s Department of Philosophy and continue to inspire students.

“I feel like I am holding to the standards set by my colleagues and our chair in our intense focus to offer the best educational experience at the university,” Wimberly said. “The philosophy department is a great place to be a teacher – and hopefully a student, as well. Philosophy gets people together on the deepest and most engaging levels, and the experience of that community is powerful.”

ROTA recipients will be honored at a banquet on Thursday, Aug. 9, in Austin. Each receives $25,000 and a gold medallion.

A complete list of winners by institution is available at the Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Awards website.


The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) was created by the Texas Legislature in 2013 as the first major public university of the 21st century in Texas. This transformative initiative provided the opportunity to expand educational opportunities in the Rio Grande Valley, including a new School of Medicine, and made it possible for residents of the region to benefit from the Permanent University Fund – a public endowment contributing support to the University of Texas System and other institutions.

UTRGV has campuses and off-campus research and teaching sites throughout the Rio Grande Valley including in Boca Chica Beach, Brownsville (formerly The University of Texas at Brownsville campus), Edinburg (formerly The University of Texas-Pan American campus), Harlingen, McAllen, Port Isabel, Rio Grande City, and South Padre Island. UTRGV, a comprehensive academic institution, enrolled its first class in the fall of 2015, and the School of Medicine welcomed its first class in the summer of 2016.