Wednesday, May 26, 2021
  Awards and Recognitions

By News and Internal Communications

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, TEXAS – Dr. Alyssa Guadalupe Cavazos, UTRGV associate professor in the Department of Writing and Language Studies and director for the Center for Teaching Excellence, was recently inducted into The University of Texas System Academy of Distinguished Teachers for 2021.

“I’m very grateful for the recognition and the opportunity to be recognized in this way,” said Cavazos. “It’s a program that I’ve admired.”

Cavazos is one of four faculty members in the UT System to be recognized with this honor that includes more than 30 fellows and inducts new faculty members annually. Only past recipients of the prestigious Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award are eligible for membership.

In 2017, Cavazos received the Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award and also a UTRGV Faculty Excellence Award for teaching.

“I believe as teachers at UTRGV we are in a unique position to create change in the educational system,” said Cavazos. “The type of change that will lead to inclusivity.”

In her eight years at UTRGV and legacy institution UT-Pan American, she said teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic was a first for her and colleagues. Cavazos said she is grateful for the lessons it has taught her and how it helped transform her classroom into a more comfortable atmosphere for her students.

“I started using what is called a ‘labor-based contract grading,’” said Cavazos. “This approach allows us to focus on the learning process instead of grades.”

Cavazos believes the new grading system will help students not worry so much about grades but focus on their reflections, revisions, and their professor’s feedback.

Providing helpful teaching footnotes to her colleagues and building supportive structures for UTRGV students led Cavazos to earn her spot with the academy.

“I hope that through my serving on this academy I can continue to share my passion for teaching with my students and with fellow academy members and teachers here at UTRGV, and really help strengthen how we think about teaching and how we think about our students’ role in teaching and learning,” she said.


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.