Each program in the Rawls College was represented in the nomination process, with 92 nominations from students for 48 unique instructors.
During a recent Rawls Advisory Council luncheon, Margaret L. Williams, dean of the Jerry S. Rawls College of Business, announced the inaugural recipients of the Jerry S. Rawls Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award.
Jerry S. Rawls was also in attendance and provided opening remarks, speaking about the significance of his decision to celebrate and incentivize undergraduate teaching.
“I always believed undergraduate education was really important,” said Rawls. “I've always held the belief that teachers were important in my success, and I still hold that belief that they're important in any undergraduate's success.”
“We have many outstanding instructors within the college, and we acknowledge their contributions each year,” said Williams. “I am pleased that Jerry has given us this opportunity to focus specifically on excellent undergraduate teaching.”
The four inaugural recipients include: Kirsten Cook, associate professor of accounting; Francisco Delgadillo, associate professor of practice of ISQS; Kelley Cours Anderson, a recent marketing doctoral graduate and current assistant professor of marketing at College of Charleston; and Lindsey Duke, a recent management doctoral graduate and current senior research specialist at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Public Policy Center.
“We had 92 nominations from students for 48 unique instructors,” said Williams. “Those nominations came from every major and every area. The entire college was well-represented.”
“I'm really impressed with the results for the first year,” said Rawls. “It's beyond my expectations, and it's heartwarming to hear the stories of these great teachers and their impact on students. This is what it's all about.”
Student-Focused Nominating and Reviewing Processes
The Jerry S. Rawls Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award annually celebrates and rewards instructors whose impact on student learning is recognized by the students themselves. Nominations come from current undergraduate students and from recent (within the past two years) Rawls College alumni. After nominations are submitted they're reviewed by a seven-member committee composed of three faculty members and four students.
Rawls has committed to funding this award each year. Two $20,000 awards will go to full-time faculty, and two $5,000 awards will go to part-time instructors or doctoral students.
However, it was the student focus of the nominating and the reviewing processes that immediately stood out to all the award recipients.
“Unlike most other teaching awards,” said Duke, “this award was put into the hands of our students. I am so fortunate to have had students think of me and take time to nominate me for this award. I hope they know that without them, I would not be the educator, researcher, or human that I am today.”
“That's why this award is so special and truly touches my heart,” said Cook. “My students nominated me. For me, there is no greater honor than being recognized by my students.”
“When Dean Margaret Williams informed me that I was one of the inaugural recipients, I felt honored and thrilled at the same time,” said Delgadillo. "I'm very grateful to the alumni and students who nominated me and recommended me and especially thankful to Mr. Jerry Rawls for funding these prestigious awards."
Cours Anderson was just as appreciative of the faculty who helped her as a student as she was with the students she taught.
“To even be nominated by my students is the greatest honor as an instructor,” said Cours Anderson. “I feel so fortunate to have learned from the best at Texas Tech, and this includes learning how to reach and engage students.”
Connecting Course Material beyond the Classroom
The nomination criteria focuses on instructors who connect their course's material beyond the classroom or textbook. The criteria includes: teaching information and skills valued by employers and relevant to job performance; passion for the subject matter and engagement with students; and clarity and structure of the learning experience.
All four award recipients found ways to apply course material and lessons to students' lives, be it through past or current personal experiences or future work experiences.
In his information systems courses, Delgadillo often associated course material to the news or events that are currently relevant to the students.
“I find that class discussion and participation increase and that students remember the course material better when it applies to them and when it is related to a current event,” said Delgadillo. “The overwhelming majority of undergraduate students at the Rawls College of Business are dedicated, energetic and truly dream of becoming successful in life.”
Cook said he tries to balance the conceptual with the practical in his income tax course by having students complete tax returns for fictitious clients.
“It's important that my students understand the logic that underlies our tax system so they see how all the pieces of the puzzle fit together in the real world,” said Cook.
Duke, in her advanced organizational management course, introduced students to philosophy of science and encouraged them to apply those principles to the material.
“We used philosophy of science to create new ways of understanding work, organizations and management of both ourselves and others,” said Duke. “Students engaged in challenging conversations, tackled taboo topics and dealt with philosophical and political disagreements with grace, professionalism and respect.”
Cours Anderson focused on highlighting actual lived experiences within her digital marketing and integrated marketing communication courses.
“I try to make the content salient,” said Cours Anderson. “This means leaning on students' experiences and having students practice and apply their new-found skills in ways they may see in industry. I share stories from my own experiences in industry but also bring in guest speakers to help bring the content to life.”
Nominations for the 2022 Jerry S. Rawls Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award will open spring of 2022. For more information, contact April Chavez.