Texas Tech University

Daily Toreador: Tech Educators Awarded for Professing Excellence

April 28, 2011

Ten Texas Tech professors and two Last Lecture Series speakers received awards at the Professing Excellence Ceremony on Wednesday.

The event is a formal ceremony started in 2002 as a way for Tech instructors to be recognized for their impact on the academic success of students living on campus.

All students residing in any of the campus residence halls are eligible to nominate instructors they feel have gone above and beyond by providing exemplary course instruction and dedication to students.

Michael Shonrock, an associate professor in the Higher Education and Student Affairs program, served as the keynote speaker of the ceremony.

It is important these instructors are nominated, he said, because they have taken educating to the next level by making a difference in their students' lives.

"I can still to this day remember my high school chemistry teacher," Shonrock said. "The time he took out of his day, his dedication and his passion for us as students made a big difference."

After Shonrock's keynote address, several students presented the awards to the instructors they nominated for the positive impact they had on their lives.

The 10 award recipients for professing excellence were professors Michael Dini, Tamara Hanna, Dominick Casadonte, Erin Hardin, William Pasewark, Magdalena Toda, RayChel Lowrance, Diane Wood and Jorge Zamora, and instructor Janice Lupton.

Lou Densmore, interim chairman of the biology department, said a few words on Dini's behalf.

"In all of Michael's annual reviews, he is always one of the highest rated in the biology department," he said. "This is the second year in a row that he's won the award; it's really exceptional."

Leah Ferguson, a junior education major from Arlington, presented the award to Lupton, an education instructor.

"She makes it a purpose to make each and every student that walks in her classroom to feel welcomed and important," she said.

Pasewark, an accounting professor, and Hardin, a psychology professor, were presented their awards by Jediah Cummins, a graduate student from Evergreen, Colo.

"Dr. Hardin goes above and beyond students' needs," he said. "Her passion for teaching shines through every day in her lectures, and she expects no less from her students as she does from herself."

Cummins said Pasewark's expertise in his field is what makes him stand out.

"Dr. Pasewark has excellent knowledge of the subject of accounting," he said, "and he does a great job, even with students who are just beginning to learn accounting, to make the subject feel familiar early on."

Kassandra Baumann, a senior psychology major from Dallas, presented the award to Wood, a modern and classical languages and literature professor.

"Dr. Wood comes to class every day with a unique style and passion for teaching her subject," she said.

Aaron Taliaferro, a graduate assistant from Houston, then presented the awards for excellence in speaking as a part of Texas Tech's Last Lecture Series.

"The premise of the series is to bring faculty lectures to students with the challenge of answering the question, 'If this were your last time to address a group of students, what would you say to them?' in a lecture," he said.

Bill Gustafson, a Last Lecture speaker from the Division of Personal Financial Planning, was the first lecturer to be awarded.

"I hope I'm making a difference in the lives of those students who come in contact with me," he said. "I want them to be as successful as they want to be and understand that an education is not a thing but a lifelong process."

Stephen Fritz, interim dean of the honors college, was presented the second lecturing excellence award by Taliaferro.

"Dr. Fritz discussed his life journey and how 'we can never be complacent' during his last lecture speech," Taliaferro said. "His last lecture was filled with eager students excited to learn life lessons from an individual with a highly distinguished academic career."

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