Texas Tech University

Celebrating the 2024 Jerry S. Rawls Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award Winners

44 faculty and teaching assistants were nominated for the 2024 awards.

Jacob Gordon | April 23, 2024

Margaret L. Williams, dean of the Jerry S. Rawls College of Business, and Jerry S. Rawls recognized the 2024 Jerry S. Rawls Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Awardwinners on Thursday, April 18.

"A good teacher can inspire hope, ignite the imagination, and instill a love of learning," said Williams during the ceremony. "Because Jerry Rawls had these inspirational teachers who influenced his life and career, he wanted to recognize and reward our current teachers for doing the same."

Two $20,000 awards are given to full-time faculty, and two $5,000 awards are given to part-time instructors or doctoral students.

This year's winners include Bobby Merriman, assistant professor of practice of finance; Brett Mistrot, lecturer of accounting; Kylee Dacy, part-time instructor of accounting; and Chu-Yen Pai, doctoral student of marketing.

"One of the opportunities teachers of undergraduates have is to inspire young people to achieve in directions that are undefined yet," said Rawls. "Teachers have an opportunity to help kids realize their potential as someone cheering for their success."

What makes this award so special is that it celebrates instructors whose impact on student learning was recognized by those very students. Each year, current students and recent alumni (students who graduated within the past two years) submit nominations for the Jerry S. Rawls Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award.

This was the fourth year the awards were presented, and there were 71 nominations across 44 faculty and teaching assistants.

Of the total nominations, many were submitted by recent alumni who were not only impacted by their instructors while as a student at Rawls College but continued to feel that impact during their careers.

"Professor Yen encouraged us to pursue digital marketing certifications, offering them as extra credit," wrote one of Pai's nominators. "This initiative wasn't just a bonus; it was a career catalyst. Thanks to this, I landed my current job position, utilizing the skills and insights gained from his class and his suggested certifications."

Nominators also frequently noted how the award winners cared about each student's success.

"He cares so much for his students and our success," wrote one of Merriman's nominators. "Financial statements analysis is notoriously difficult, but he did everything he could to ensure each student had all the resources needed to succeed."

"I have never come across another professor who cares about his students and students' success as much as Yen does," wrote one of Pai's nominators. "He brings an incredibly positive attitude to work every single day, and all of his students deeply appreciate the vibes in his classroom."

In the classroom, the award winners often connected their own professional experiences to major course concepts. For many students, the instructors were bridging the divide between the classroom and students' future careers.

"She brought her real-world accounting experience into the classroom," wrote one of Dacy's nominators, "and she was able to connect her experiences to our lectures. Her CPA certification just gives her that much more credibility as a qualified teacher. She showed true care and respect towards all her students and genuinely wanted everyone to do well in this course."

"He did an excellent job of teaching with our future careers in mind," wrote one of Mistrot's nominators. "He didn't teach straight out of a textbook but instead talked about practical lessons. He chose to cover more relevant topics in more depth. So far, as I have just begun my accounting internship with PwC, I have seen how the accounting foundation I learned with Mistrot has been so helpful in my career."

Nominations for the 2025 Jerry S. Rawls Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Awards will open in January of 2025. Learn more about the nomination process or view previous honorees.