EPPS Outstanding Teaching Comet Awards


"If you're going to be a teacher, there can't be a more satisfying reward than being recognized by those you teach. I am extremely honored."
― Donald Arbuckle Clinical Professor and PhD Advisor of Public Affairs, winner of 2013-2014 Outstanding Teaching Comet Awards

Students nominated EPPS faculty, lecturers, and teaching assistants in each of the school's degree areas for the EPPS Outstanding Teaching Comet Awards. Faculty, lecturers and Graduate student instructors who received the most nominations in their areas were presented with crystal apple paperweights engraved with their names.

2015 - 2016 List of Winners and Honorable Mentions

Criminology

Winner: Denise Boots

Honorable Mentions: Alexis Harper, Bruce Jacobs

View student comments

Denise Boots

"Mrs. Boots teaches her students in a different way than any other teacher I have ever experienced. She expects us to think critically about the subject and stand by our decision with conviction. What I enjoy about her class the most? She doesn't try to change our views as a person, instead she recognizes that all students are different and their views vary. She explains all possibilities of the topic and let's the individual choose their side. For example: Capital Punishment, are you for it, are you against it, or are you undecided. She explains, their isn't a wrong answer and that every student has their own opinion which we are entitled. She also encourages student to speak during lecture and get involved in the class. Mrs. Denise Boots deserves this award for showing she truly cares about hers."

"Dr. Boots really has inspired me to care about other people and myself. She made so many relevant points in her class and she always reminded us that ethics is the most important part about criminology. She is inspiring because of why she became interested in criminology and because of all she has been through and all the work that she does. Being in her class really helped me through a tough time just because of how wonderful she is as a person and as a professor."

Alexis Harper

"She is very enthusiastic about her job. She encourages us to look into clubs and seminars for EPPS in hopes we may find something to drive our ambitions."

Bruce Jacobs

"Dr. Jacobs is extremely knowledgeable and passionate about his area of study in the criminology field of research. It is always inspiring to learn from someone who really cares about what they are teaching and Dr. Jacobs exemplifies that."

Economics

Winner: Christopher Roby

Honorable Mentions: Daniel O’Brien, Dann Arce, Dong Li, Rodney Andrews, Sherry Xin Li, Stephen Kiser,
Victor Valcarcel

View student comments

Christopher Roby

"Professor Roby is a phenomenal instructor and very knowledgeable about his subjects. He knows how to engage students and is a genuinely consistent and appreciative mentor. One of the finest teachers I have had to date. Highly recommended."

"He makes the subject very easy to learn"

"Professor Roby has been a great professor to myself and many others. There have been two unfortunate occasions for myself that conflicted with the class and he was more than reasonable and happy to help me out with my situation. Compared to my Macro Econ class, he's been very hands-on with the students with interaction and assistance. He even offered to meet me at UTD at a time where he normally isn't since he told me he is only 4 miles away from UTD, that it wouldn't be a problem. Even if he hadn't assisted me with these problems, I would have still nominated him based on his teaching."

"A professor who is enthusiastic about his job. He delivers his lectures to students effectively, and makes sure that there is no ambiguity with concepts he teaches in class."

"Helped me understand a subject that I had been struggling with"

"Professor Roby does a great job of incorporating comedy and activities into his lectures to engage all of the students. He is helpful inside and outside of the classroom and is always willing to answers questions whenever they arise. He has made the stereotype of microeconomics appear false by proving that it can be a very fun and interesting topic. He is a great lecturer and teacher, and I would definitely take him for another class in the future."

"Has done a good job teaching and has explained the class better than other economic classes that I've taken."

"Great teacher. Provides much help for any student that needs it"

"Roby is a young grad student and his sense of humor makes the boring class content bearable and even enjoyable at times. He makes the class interesting and often times funny with his side remarks and comments."

"I wish every teacher was like him!"

"Mr. Roby genuinely cares about his students. Whenever I have gone into his office to ask questions he has always been more than willing to help. He is not condescending at all but genuinely wants his students to understand the information. He does so in a way that is relatable to his students."

Daniel O'Brien

"He's so kind and patient. Never felt boring in his class."

Dann Arce

"Superb teaching ability; applicability of knowledge learned; passionate"

"Dr. Arce is a great professor! The students can tell he's not only passionate about economics, but cares about his students learning as well."

Dong Li

"He is a really great professor! He makes a difficult class really interesting and always provides interesting real-world examples. Professor Li also puts in a lot of effort to make sure we understand everything extremely thoroughly."

Rodney Andrews

"Dr. Andrews' intermediate microeconomics class was the most challenging class for me last semester, the content of the class is difficult, however, Dr. Andrews' teaching methods always presented the class with deep analysis of the material that helped me to understand the material and its applications. Dr. Andrews is always available and eager to help his students, whether it is office hours, or quickly replying to emails; as a transfer student, I sometimes felt overwhelmed with the intensity of the work, but Dr. Andrews would readily explain the concepts I did not understand. He is an excellent professor!"

"First time in my entire life I've been pushed to perform this hard academically. That said, after completion of Dr. Andrews' course, I am confident in my ability to understand any kind of material, no matter how difficult."

Sherry Xin Li

"Great mentor. Learn from her of every step of research in experimental economics.Great help in my PhD dissertation."

Stephen Kiser

"I will graduate this May after 7 years of undergraduate courses (3 years at UTD), and will graduate with a 3.9+. Professor Kiser's courses were by far the best all around courses I took at UT Dallas. He engages the classroom, draws from his experience in his current job at a bank, and uses humor to keep his students interested. Again one of the top 2 or 3 professors I have had and best all around at UTD."

Victor Valcarcel

"Dr. Valcarcel is an amazing professor. He focuses on making sure that students understand the underling economic concepts in his class. He does this by making the subject come to life using innovative teaching methods. One method it used was a semester long monetary system, called EPPIES, which students used to help increase quiz score. This program helped in three way. First, it provided a tangible example of house monetary systems work. Second, it encouraged people to study and be present in class because you could only earn EPPIES by getting good grades on pop quizzes. Third, it encouraged students to use office hours because you could only receive EPPIES in office hours."

Geospatial Information Sciences

Winner: Anthony Cummings

Honorable Mentions: Irina Vakulenko, Yongwan Chun

View student comments

Anthony Cummings

"Even though I have not taken a class with Dr. Cummings, he agreed to be my advisor for GISC 6389 Masters Research Project. Dr. Cummings has mentored me methodically, challenged me and provided tutorials to refresh my memory on topics I took years ago. He is direct in his feedback, expects high quality work and gives clear instructions. His professionalism inspires and motivates me to work very hard for this project. I nominate Dr. Cummings as the outstanding professor in EPPS."

"Anthony Cummings is the best professor I've ever had, and inspired me to want to be a teacher or public speaker of some sort."

Irina Vakulenko

"She truly has inspired me to dive deeper into the study of geography. I truly have always looked up to her as a professor because her lessons are not only practical but spurred from personal experience. She is absolutely an amazing professor here at UT Dallas."

Yongwan Chun

"Dr. Chun prepared every lecture very well, he presented the material in a clear sequence, he covered the subject adequately."

Political Science

Winner: Brian Bearry

Honorable Mentions: Clint Peinhardt, Linda Keith, Patrick Brandt

View student comments

Brian Bearry

"Awesome professor, he really stands out and all of his lectures have been interesting."

"By far the best class I've had a an undergrad. The man is passionate and knowledgable on his subject and passes that along to his students."

Clint Peinhardt

"Dr. Peinhardt has been one of the most knowledgeable professors that I have been taught by. His classes have been the most in depth for IPE that I have taken and they have contributed to a large sum of the knowledge that I possess in the field of IPE."

Linda Keith

"Dr. Keith makes a difficult subject very easy to understand. Dr. Keith has a nontraditional class format, with in class meetings being mixed with online discussions and presentations. This could be a challenge for a lesser teacher, with less face time among students. Dr. Keith rises to the task, and the result is a class that is engaging and sparks discussion among students. Last semester, with the backdrop of the ongoing refugee crisis in the Middle East, Dr. Keith masterfully tied together the material and laws we were learning with how it was being applied in the real world. Dr. Keith cleared up some misconceptions about the "threat" the asylum seekers and refugees posed, which was helpful given the terror attacks in Paris, and climate of fear that existed. Dr. Keith made the students more aware of what was happening, and allowed students to have the knowledge to make informed decisions on refugee and asylum policy both in the U.S. and abroad. There was never a particular agenda pushed, and a concerted effort was made to know both sides of the issue to shape our personal opinion. Dr. Keith also allowed flexibility in the grading for students, providing different options to calculate a final grade, which allowed students to semi-tailor their syllabus that best fit their schedule and need. I can personally attest that Dr. Keith is very helpful to her students, always willing to provide feedback, answer questions, respond to emails promptly, and spur discussion in the classroom. Personally, Dr. Keith has inspired me and given me opportunities to help with asylum seekers in the U.S., which not only gave me some legal experience, but provided me with an avenue to apply my education with service to the community. Dr. Keith has been one of, if not the best, teachers I have had in my time at UTD. Dr. Keith is fair, engaging, and always there for her students ensuring we get the most out of our education. Dr. Keith would not let us walk out of her class without learning something, to phone it in so to speak. She always treats her class with respect, and addresses us as scholars and future productive members of society. It has been said, “Treat a (hu)man as (s/)he is, and (s/)he will remain as (s/)he is. Treat a (hu)man as (s/)he could be, and (s/)he will become what (s/)he should be.[edited for gender pronouns]”. I can personally attest to the fact, and I think many of my fellow students would agree, that Dr. Keith pushes us to be better students and members of society both with what she teaches and how she teaches it."

Patrick Brandt

"Great professor, charismatic, cares about students success."

Public and Nonprofit Management

Winners: James Harrington

Honorable Mentions: Donald Arbuckle, Doug Kiel, John McCaskill, Meghna Sabharwal, Paul Battaglio,
Teodoro Benavides, Young-joo Lee

View student comments

James Harrington

"The lecture is interesting and challenge, he always encourage students to have the critical thinking."

"Dr. Harrington cares about his students and their success. He was very helpful during my first semester in the PA PhD Cohort. I was incredibly stressed out and overwhelmed and he helped me narrow my research topic. He is very supportive of his students, in their classes and outside of classes with conference proposals. Dr. Harrington challenges his students and pushes them to continually improve, I feel fortunate to have him as a professor."

"I have learnt a lot from his classes, he is always available and ready to help. Very positive and encouraging! one of the best Professors!!"

"Dr. Harrington is always prepared for class, and stays up to date on the research in the relevant field. He is also available to students outside of class time, including after normal business hours, and provides excellent insight and advice."

"Dr. Harrington has really inspired and encouraged me to follow my dreams. He asks me about my plans to achieve my goals. His class is my first class as a graduate student and he really takes the time to make sure his students understand the concepts he discusses. I am excited to attend class and appreciate the opportunity to study. I hope all of my teachers in the MPA program are as great as he is."

"Primarily, Dr. Harrington understands that even though we are in grad school, this is not our first, or probably our second job. He's flexible yet sets high expectations. He also takes suggestions from students and in turn has improved the class participation (and probably attention) rate. Additionally, he doesn't constantly boast about his work, but will explain his experiences in a polite way."

"Dr. Harrington's teaching techniques simplify difficult topics. He is always available, a very helpful and understanding Professor."

Donald Arbuckle

"It is my pleasure to enthusiastically recommend Dr. Donald Arbuckle for the Outstanding Teaching Comet Award. To begin, Dr. Arbuckle is one of the most practical and experienced educators I have ever had the chance to study with. In taking his Federal Policy-Making course this past summer, his teaching never failed to facilitate dramatic amounts of student discussion and satisfaction. Dr. Arbuckle brings an infectious enthusiasm for sharing his depth of perspective on policy-making process and executive branch and an ability to transcend the normal classroom atmosphere, leading in turn to students deepening their own desire to learn. Throughout our time in DC, his teaching approach knew no boundaries as he often brought in a host of visiting scholars, policymakers, and notables to visit with our fellowship and provide wider context and perspective to our discussions on the policy-making process as well. In addition, Dr. Arbuckle's innovative pedagogy directly engages students in countless settings outside of the traditional classroom boundaries. We visited the Ways & Means Committee room, the Eisenhower Executive Office buildings, prominent news agencies and even went on afternoon-long scavenger hunts, all to help us gain more perspective on the content of our class. Perhaps most importantly, Dr. Arbuckle's level of investment in his students did not end at the traditional classroom door. Through his vast network in our nation's capital, his support and advocacy was single-handedly the largest reason why I was able to intern in the National Center for Environmental Economics, one of the most rewarding experiences in my academic career. In the year year since our fellowship, Dr. Arbuckle continues to invest in his students, attending potlucks they've hosted and welcoming them to sit in on his classes. In the years ahead, I look forward to continuing to have his sage advice and support as I develop in my own public policymaking career. When it comes to professors, Dr. Arbuckle is indeed the “full package.” When considering exemplary work, please do not overlook the incredibly unique and important asset that Dr. Arbuckle has been for our campus and for all of the UT System with his unparalleled combination of real-world experience and his jovial dedication to students and their learning experience. I know I speak for my entire cohort as well as the many before us in uplifting Dr. Arbuckle's investment and outstanding teaching. If there is anything else that I can provide or share, do not hesitate to email ([email protected]) or call (218-766-0830). Thank you for your consideration."

Doug Kiel

"I have taken 2 courses with Dr. Kiel, and he is honestly the best professor I have had at UTD. He is knowledgable in so many fields, which allows him to bring in different perspectives to the Public Affairs classroom. Additionally, Dr. Kiel makes himself extremely available to students both via email and in person, which shows just how much he cares about his students here at UTD. He is passionate about his and comes to the classroom everyday with a lot of energy, and that is so refreshing as a student. Thank you, Dr. Kiel, for being such a wonderful asset to UT Dallas!"

"Always shows concern for students and is willing to guide them outside of the classroom."

John McCaskill

"He is always incredibly knowledgeable about every topic he teaches, he truly wants to know his students' opinions on the topics and encourages interaction, and he helps us to see how we can use what we are learning in our everyday life and workplace. I always look to see what he is teaching each semester because I know that I will take much more from his classes than just what can be found in textbooks."

"Dr. McCaskill has been one of my favorite professors at UTD. He shows up to class every day with great energy, which makes class so much more enjoyable. Additionally, you can tell that he is genuinely passionate about the material he teaches. He also goes out of his way to help his students in anyway that he can, which shows how much he cares about his students!"

Meghna Sabharwal

"I have taken three classes taught by Dr. Sabharwal and she has consistently exceeded my expectations for each class. She takes the time to ask her students if the materials she has supplied helped them to understand the concepts and always asks for suggestions for future courses. Her approach to the material as well as her teaching methods leave a lasting impression."

Paul Battaglio

"Dr. Battaglio approaches teaching with a relaxed confidence and always finds a way to make the material relatable. He is willing to let discussion and debate arise, without fear of getting off track. Evening classes can be so difficult after a long day of work, but when you can find a way to throw in pop culture, recent events, or personal stories it becomes so much more engaging and enjoyable. I was unsure about my place in the public affairs program, however after taking Dr. Battaglio's classes I felt confident I was in the right place."

Teodoro Benavides

"I went to see him about internship and he was very helpful. He reviewed my resume and cover letter and mentioned me to some employers. Even though i am not a member of his department it didn't prevent him from assisting me in the way he can. i am truly thankful and happy. He is a gem to the University of Texas at Dallas."

"Has real world experience and gives us good advice about getting into the public administration without sugarcoating it. He prepares you for what you will truly be faced with when you get into the workforce."

"I have taken every class offered by Benavides and have learned the most from him. His ability to teach lectures in a manner that seems like a free flowing conversation is very effective and his assignments are very applicable to real life situations. I feel prepared to take the skills I learned from him and apply them once I start working. I don't think I have ever had any other professor that manages to get EVERY student in the class to participate in lectures willingly."

Young-joo Lee

"I absolutely adore Dr. Lee! She is truly dedicated to her work as an educator and researcher. Her dedication to her areas of study show in the classroom. She genuinely cares about teaching her students in a way that is completely refreshing. I will take every class that I have the opportunity to take with Dr. Lee because she is just so wonderful!"

"Outstanding lecturers and very knowledgeable about her research and studies. Loved her classes and learned a lot from her, being an undergraduate. Influenced me to do good for others and work for a non-prefit organization after graduation."

"I nominate Dr. Lee for the outstanding teaching award based on what I observed in the courses she taught when I was an undergrad student, and in the course she teaches now at the grad level. First, It is my belief that Dr. Lee is highly knowledgeable of the materials she teaches, both in public management and nonprofits management. Secondly, Dr. Lee encourages her students to fully participate in class discussions and is attentive to questions raised by her students. Third, Dr. Lee places a high standard in making sure that her students possess the writing, speaking, and analytical skills they need as they look to enter the workforce upon completion of their studies. Forth, Dr. Lee is very receptive of her students demands and goes above and beyond to assist students with whatever concern they may have. Thank you."

Public Policy and Political Economy

Winner: Rubia Valente

Honorable Mentions: Dohyeong Kim, Donald Hicks, Jonas Bunte, Simon Fass

View student comments

Rubia Valente

"Dr. Valente is brimming with knowledge on all types of social issues, from poverty to environmental justice to women's rights. Her World Resources and Development class explored the discrepancies between developing and developed nations, and her experience living in both types of nations made the class unbiased and fresh. During class discussions, she listened to everyone openly and kindly, and she encouraged her students to think outside of the box. In addition, every time I visited her office, she was very warm and welcoming, and gave me invaluable guidance regarding career choices, and my education. She is very well deserving of this award."

"Her passion for teaching and for helping students succeed is truly inspirational. She made a very complicated subject into something so interesting and fun to lean. I looked forward to going to her class. She is the best teacher I've had. "

"Ms. Valente is very passionate and driven about what she teaches. She really inspired me to act more and do more for the things I believe in."

"Dr. Valente is an amazing professor. She actually went out of her way to learn our names... before the first class of our semester even started. She cared that much about seeing us participate and succeed. She also put her textbooks on reserve in the library, and made other steps to make sure all of her students had access to the materials of the class. She answered all questions thoroughly, knew her subject well, and never gave any reason to believe her students' input did not matter. I would definitely take a class with her again."

"I generally despise any type of math course, but Dr. Valente worked exclusively with me in order that I understand the material. Now, I am looking towards graduate school because of her excellent preparation."

"Great professor! Helped me understand statistics as well as stata. I'm not a big math person, but did very well based on her teaching methods."

"I am thrilled at the opportunity to nominate Professor Valente. I entered her world resources and development class with knowledge of the problems that less-developed countries are facing, but after taking her class, I realized the little that I knew. She used an array of compelling yet comprehensive presentations, and included videos of real life disasters happening currently. Professor Valente always seemed passionate about every subject presented, and she transmitted that feeling. Every Tuesdays and Thursdays, I left her class thinking about all I'd learned. I even shared the information with coworkers and family. Professor Valente is among the many great professors I had the opportunity to meet. I wish her the best in her future endeavor."

"She was an outstanding and inspiring teacher."

"Dr. Valente impressed me very much with her style of teaching, right from day one. She knows all her students by name & personally takes interest in their learning & is concerned about their performances as well. She always comes to class prepared, has a lesson plan & she accomplishes all that she has planned for the day. She is so concern about student performance that she always reminds of deadlines for submission of papers, and is constantly available for consultations in her office and just about anywhere you meet her; she is always ready to help."

"I have had good teachers before, but there has never been a teacher in my life that was more inspiring and life changing than Dr. Valente. Her course changed my entire perception of the world in which we live, and her ability to foster critical thinking about complex social issues is unmatched. I wish I could take more classes with Dr. Valente in the future, and there is no one in this school more deserving of this award."

"Absolutely amazing professor. She motivated me to do my best, she was very approachable and she inspierd me on many ocasions to learn more outside of class about different subjects."

"When I enrolled to Intro. to Social Statistics, I wasn't enthusiastic to take another statistics course. I had a feeling I would struggle with the course material and the Stata software, however, Dr. Valente made the material fairly easy to understand. Thanks to Dr. Valente, I'm now fairly confident of using Stata and perhaps even enroll in an advanced statistics course for graduate school. In my opinion, Dr. Valente is an outstanding teacher!"

"Dr. Valente inspired me through her passion for teaching and for political science. She made herself available to her students for anything from recommendation letters to out of class discussion of in class material. I learned so much from Dr. Valente, and went into class every week excited for our next debates and discussions."

"Dr. Valente provided one of the most enjoyable and fulfilling learning experiences during my enrollment at UTD. The genuine passion she demonstrated on a daily basis made her lecturers memorable. She continually encouraged class discussion about topics seldom touched upon in other coursework. I felt comfortable expressing my views on various issues while considering other points of view expressed by fellow classmates. Dr. Valente is an invaluable resource of knowledge and experience for The University of Texas at Dallas and I sincerely hope she receives The Comet Award, she deserves it."

"I am horrible at statistics and it is beyond difficult for me to understand. If it was not for this professor I would probably be failing it by now. I am grateful for her and her teaching ways. Dr. Valente breaks it down to where anyone in the class will understand it, is okay with questions, and will not proceed until everyone gets it. Dr. Valente is very patient and never complains and is always smiling no matter what."

"Great math teacher!"

"She is an excellent professor that kept that class engaged and delivered the material in an effective manner. I truly enjoyed her class and have applied what I have learned from her class into my professional career."

"Dr. Valente is by far an amazing professor who shows a great deal of passion in her work. Her classroom was insightful and profound. Anyone who takes a class taught by her will surely leave with a new depth of understanding global circumstances."

"Her class ultimately inspired me to apply to the Peace Corps, with whom I will be working with in Morocco for 2 years in youth development."

"Professor Valente is excellent! She makes the concepts very clear and easy to understand, and she always has useful applications and examples of the use of the concepts. I did not think that I would enjoy a math or statistics class, but she made it very simple and even enjoyable to practice. She was also really helpful; she would go the above and beyond to be available to help students, and is one of the few professors that I have had to actually make an effort to utilize class resources communicate with students frequently and provide useful course materials. I really appreciated her as a professor at the University."

"Dr. Valente is one of the most caring professors I have had the privilege of meeting through my undergraduate career here at UTD. She always goes out of her way to assist students in their educational endeavors in any way that she can. Not only are her classes extremely interactive and intellectually stimulating, she also teaches the material in a way that it truly resonates with her students long after the class has ended."

"Dr. Valente is ridiculous. Above and beyond does not begin to describe the efforts that this educator employs to make sure her students succeed. I occasionally get frustrated with Professors that succumb to hand-holding, but it was almost as if Dr. Valente took the time to understand what each individual student needed to succeed. You could always see these wheels turning, but Dr. Valente does this as though it is a bare minimum while managing to teach complex concepts to those students interested, while still paying close attention to students whose strengths lie in other areas. She would stop to help them, but the flow of class would never cease. She was always excited, in and out of class, to discuss course concepts, to build on what we have learned, to hear about our experiences, and she was always always always smiling the happiest smile while she did it. I am not a math person and I received an excellent grade in a class I never would have expected to be inspired by....I expected to cry....a lot. Kind of impossible when Dr. Valente is around."

"Dr Rubia Valente was one of the most passionate professors I've ever had. She consistently brought up opportunities for us to get involved outside of the classroom as well, and was obviously very eager to see her students succeed. Overall, she was an amazing professor whose passion got me involved in a number of projects I never thought I'd be interested in before."

"Dr. Valente is an excellent teacher and mentor. Not only does she create lesson plans that are easily understandable for every type of learner, but she goes above and beyond to ensure that every student feels that they are firmly grasping the course concepts. Additionally, her office is always open to students for advice on academia and career paths. She has been instrumental in my professional development and discussions with her have helped me realize my passion for international development."

"She is excellent in teaching and very professional,and respectful to students in her class. She is the only the best professor l know in UTDALLAS."

"I took Statistics over the summer and had a terrible teacher and didn't learn anything. I took it again with Professor Valente and have learned more then I could have imagined and things in statistics that I will use after graduation."

"Dr. Valente is an outstanding professor who cares for her students. I came into statistics not knowing anything about the topic, I should also mention I'm really not good at math, Dr. Valente worked with me until I understood the material fully."

"I have plenty of reason to nominate such an amazing professor like Mrs. Rubia Valente. When I started my class with her she stated not to worry about her class if I just attend classes everyday do the labs, homework and read the lessons, I should do good in her class. Give all the tool to be successful in her class. She is a type of professor that is not satisfied until she makes sure her students get out of her class with a great understanding of the material she teaches in class. She is available for her students at all times and is ready to answer any questions her students have. Her personality is amazing strict but yet friendly too. My overall satisfaction with Mrs. Rubia Valente is a 10 from scale 1-10. She is a super awesome instructor. "

"She's is one of the best teachers I've had at UTD she genuinely cares about her students and wants them to truly understand the material. She goes the extra step to makes sure her students are successful which is a lot more than other professors at UTD have done for me."

"My reasons for nominating Dr. Valente are many, however, I will do my best to explain those reasons. First of all, I spent several years in the United States Marine Corps and have participated in Iraq war campaigns. I now have a successful career in law enforcement. Therefore, I have seen some of the best leaders in the world and I proudly place Dr. Valente in the same catagory for the exception that she is much more nicer and extremely helpful with tons of patience. As a student and as a professional, I have seen her dedication and diligence to the academic success of the student. I have never been good at mathematics and I was very intimidated by the fact that it was the last semester to take statistics. I knew I had to do it, so I signed up for it in the evening because that is the only time I have available to attend school. My first day of class, Dr. Valente asked us to introduce ourselves and the first thing I stated to her was that I was not good at math. Dr. Valente made me feel very at ease by assuring me that as long as I would show up to class everyday and put my 100%, I would pass. Those words gave me the encouragement and motivation to keep me going forward. Make no mistake, this class is very hard but she is always available to help us before, during, and after class. Her dedication is more than what I have seen in a long time. I can always e-mail her and text her at reasonable hours and she is always available to answer question that I much need an answer to. I do not get special treatment, all other students have the same privilege as me and we all use them to get the much needed help. She grades hard but very fair across the board. If you do not do the homework, the required reading, the required labs, the required effort and last but not least showing up to class you will not pass and will figure out very quickly that you will get a failing grade. Dr. Valente will stop and answer any questions you need even during the lesson. She will make sure you understand the material before moving forward. In a nut shell, Dr. Valente is very helpful, kind, intelligent, subject matter expert as well. Dr. Valente is a perfect example of what an instructor should be like. I hope she can be nominated as an outstanding teacher. I have seen great teachers there but by far she is a superior instructor. Thanks to Dr. Valente's dedication and mine of course, I have an A+ in a class that I did not think I would succeed like I'm doing now. I hope that you can take my observation into consideration."

"Dr. Valente is a wonderful professor and mentor who goes above and beyond to help her students. In her class, I was in awe of all of the knowledge she possesses and the great way she presented it. Whenever I visited her office hours, she made me feel welcome and gave me helpful advice many times. She is more than deserving of this award."

"Dr. Valente is patient, caring, and always concerned with her students learning the material. She's very understanding and goes the extra mile to ensure all her students are well informed with the information all while making the course challenging. I thought I would hate statistics, however Dr. Valente makes this course bearable and gets to the point with the information. I haven't taken an actual lecture math class in years and thought I would struggle so much however Dr. Valente corrects our errors and let's us know what assignments we completed incorrectly. She's a wonderful person and and outstanding educator deserving of this award."

"Math has always been an extremely difficult study for me; an area in which I was by default discouraged. Dr. Rubia V. is such a wonderful instructor, she teaches in a way that makes me feel less anxious. Any issue I may have, I can always go to her and she will take her time to make sure I understand with a genuine care about my academic success in her class. Her math class is actually the first class where I don't need to "zone out mentally", as I can successfully follow along."

Dohyeong Kim

"He is a very approachable instructor and provided practical and theoretical cases we may face in research. Moreover, he gave students good study motivation such as how we can design statistical study path in the program. Thus, I highly recommend him as an excellent professor."

"He is really patient and skilled in teaching this class. And his classes are vivid and understandable.As an instructor of our first year PhD students, he provides very useful instructions in registering classes. All in all, I think he deserves this nomination."

"I had always wanted to know the statistical logics behind all the analysis, and I was inspired by his lecture. Even though some were very difficult terms to understand, he taught us in an easy way with reasonable examples. His lectures were always well organized, and I am pretty certain that he prepared very well. His teaching skills and organized lectures inspired my future class."

Donald Hicks

"This has been my favorite class to date. It has opened my mind to many new concepts, and I have been able to apply the theories learned in this class in every other class taken so far. I believe Dr. Hicks in very knowledgeable on the subject and explains it in a way that is engaging yet leaves you wanting to know more. The articles assigned were right on target and very informative. If I had the opportunity, I would not hesitate to take another class taught by Dr. Hicks. He is an excellent professor!"

Jonas Bunte

"His teaching method is innovative and effective. He also cares about his students and very inspiring."

"Dr. Bunte is a great professor and puts a lot of effort into making sure his class is understood and enjoyed by all students. He includes many humorous anecdotes as well as real world examples of concepts to ensure that we are engaged. Dr. Bunte has studied which methods lead to students learning the material best and incorporates them into his lectures. It is for these reasons I believe Dr. Bunte is deserving of an outstanding teaching award."

"It is my pleasure to enthusiastically recommend Dr. Jonas Bunte for the Outstanding Teaching Comet Award. After taking several of Dr. Bunte's courses in the past two years I can think of few professors that have engaged their students with the same level of passion for academic skill-building and intentionality in effective pedagogy. Dr. Bunte is one of the few professors I've had that not only outlines the topics that will be covered (providing a chance for student input in creating some of the content covered even), but also highlights how he will be using instruction based on research in effective education cognitive psychology. For example, every week we have preclass reading assignments, prepare a round of questions that we will discuss based on these readings, and then have facilitated student-student discussions based on our readings. In addition, the second half of every class features small-group active learning tasks to engage each of us directly with whatever material is being covered. Dr. Bunte also in very intentional in the middle of the semester as well at the end at soliciting student instructor feedback. All of these principles are practices that are encouraged by the Carl Wieman Science Education Initiative, as well as our own new Center for Teaching and Learning. Perhaps most directly, Dr. Bunte structures his graduate courses in a manner so that his assignments prepare students in a step-wise manner to conduct original research questions in the area of political economy and ultimately walk away from the class with not only a vastly improved knowledge of the content area covered in class, but also the strong beginnings of a paper to submit as a conference proposal. In summary, Dr. Bunte is devoted to helping teach the kinds of skills, approaches, and pedagogy that make courses engaging for students as well as prepare them for success in the larger academic world outside. If there is anything else that I can provide or share, do not hesitate to email ([email protected]) or call (218-766-0830). Thank you for your consideration."

"Dr. Bunte's class has been inspiring and engaging. His teaching style is exceptionally organized and easy to follow. His positive attitude and commitment to reasonable and productive class discussion are evident in everything he doe. He re-phrases statements and questions when it is clear that some of the students are either not engaged or have not understood. All in all, he is my favorite teaching within EPPS, and I will definitely make a point to take classes with him again in the future."

"Great professor, passionate."

Simon Fass

"As a graduate student in the MPA program I was very hesitant about taking the required statistics course because it has been 23 years since my last college math course. Dr. Fass is a dynamic professor who made this topic very interesting - especially when it's a nightclass at 7pm. It was a very tough class that required hours of studying outside of class but I always left his class learning something new. His teaching style uses real world business examples and he welcomes input during class from any student. By the 2nd class he had already learned all of our names. Having a teacher greet you is very important as it shows they know who you are, care about you being there and gave me accountability to always be in class and perform well. On day one of class Dr. Fass gave us a quiz to test our math skills so we could gauge the degree of complexity the course would be for each student. This method was very helpful to me as I knew immediately that if I wanted to excel in this class I was going to have to spend time refreshing on some of the basics. Without this assessment I would have not dedicated enough time using resources of the math lab, online videos, and practice quizzes. It was one of the toughest classes I've had so far but he will be the professor I remember most for really caring for each student and being committed to helping every one of us learn the information. I finished his class with a MUCH better understanding of statistics."

"When I became very ill and was unable to continue attending class and keep up with coursework, Dr. Fass was extremely accommodating in terms of helping me finish the course with a decent grade, while being attentive, considerate, and respectful. He seemed to genuinely care about how I was doing, and was extremely helpful by allowing me the time and space to heal and get well so that I could complete my unfinished coursework to the best of my ability."

Sociology

Winner: Bobby Alexander

Honorable Mentions: Kara Sutton, Sheryl Skaggs

View student comments

Bobby Alexander

"I nominate Dr. Alexander because he embodies the characteristics I would expect from an outstanding teacher. He is skilled in class management, and continually encourages students to participate in the course. Dr. Alexander always establishes the outcomes for the course and completes those outcomes. Students leave his course feeling accomplished, and incredibly knowledgeable on the topic. He is realistic, and is able to relate with students and strives to establish a relationship with his students. Dr. Alexander creates a trustworthy, safe, and warm classroom environment. He continues to challenge students, and ensures that we are knowledgeable on the material and that we are able to apply the material to other courses or the "real world". Sitting in Dr. Alexander's course it is evident that he is extremely passionate and knowledgeable on all the topics he covers. As a student, it is important to note that Dr. Alexander has always been curious and eager to learn as evident by his two Master and two PH.D. degrees."

"Dr. Alexander has been the most engaging and passionate professor I've ever had. When someone loves what they do, it has an impact on their student's lives. His classroom rhetoric is always inclusive, accepting and constructive. Recently, I noticed he had been a little frazzled in class, and today he announced that he has been notified that his mother is dying. Despite this trauma occurring in his personal life, he continues to teach us with the compassion and expertise of a man destined to impart his wisdom on younger generations. For these reasons, I would like to nominate Dr. Alexander for the Outstanding EPPS Teacher Award. Please contact me with any further questions. I could speak to his honor for years."

"Very interactive and understanding, was quite willing to help clear any confusion and answer any questions. As well, was quite flexible and understanding with his time and assignments when unexpected situations occured"

"I nominate Dr. Bobby Alexander because not only is he a fantastic professor, but because he is also a fantastic human being. He has expanded my understanding of religion, particularly in U.S. society. He has also taken time outside of the classroom to answer my questions and helped find resources for my family to aid in dealing with my transgender brother "coming out" so to speak. I consider Dr. Alexander to be a true educator in that of having extensive knowledge and genuinely caring about his students."

"Dr.Alexander is an outstanding professor and allows his students to expand their beliefs and values and to understand the perspective of others and the world around us. He is very educated on the minority groups here in America and all around the world and teaches his students to accept everyone regardless of their standards and values. I've been to three different colleges as an undergraduate student but since being at UTD I've taken two courses by him and have thoroughly enjoyed both and I can truly say he is my favorite undergraduate professor and I look forward to enrolling in more courses taught by Dr. Bobby Alexander."

"First and foremost is that he genuinely cares for his students. Dr. Alexander has gone out of his way to make the material more understandable and discernible through the selection of his textbooks. He does his best to accommodate student discussion given our rather large class size and gives us an opportunity to apply the material to real life. Beyond the classroom, he also makes himself available for help through office hours and is often willing to meet after classes or through an appointment. I have gone to see him on at least five separate occasions in the past two years for help regarding classes, tips on graduate school, and general life advice. Dr. Alexander is an incredible professor and an incredible mentor to his students. We need more professors like Dr. Alexander who are willing to meet students halfway and help them climb the other half. As a nonprofit educator myself, I truly believe there is a big distinction between a professor and an educator, and UT Dallas is blessed to have a true educator, like Dr. Bobby Alexander, on staff."

"Dr. Alexander is by far the most passionate, logical, outstanding professional professor at UTD. He shows a true concern for the welfare of all of his students. He takes time to ensure that any student that needs help is provided all the relevant information needed."

"I love Dr. Alexander! He is an EXCELLENT professor with all capitalized letters. I have been very blessed for being able to be his student twice now. I am in my last semester, Sociology major, and I have had so many wonderful professors, but if there is something I should regret is the fact that I didn't get to know him before. Surely if I did, I would have taken as many classes that he teaches as possible. And without a shadow of doubt his calling is to teach others, which he does with humbleness, and above all with love. Best Professor ever!!!"

Kara Sutton

"Dr. Sutton goes out of her way to help students understand something that is not easy to grasp - data analysis. When asked for assistance in locating a dataset for another class, Dr. Sutton went above and beyond. She's now helping me with what is looking to be my honor's thesis. Her passion for teaching and data analysis make her stand out as one of the best professors I've had in my time at UTD."

Sheryl Skaggs

"Dr. Skaggs was an incredible instructor. I learned things about social stratification and inequality in areas that I didn't know existed and was able to develope a more informed opinion regarding the inequality that is rampant in our society. Beyond obviously loving what she teaches, she wasn't afraid to challenge the thoughts of her students but at the same time support their ways of thinking about the world we live in. I especially enjoyed how supportive she was of my specific research interests as they applied to social issues and how she devoted time to understanding my points of view while also encouraging me to think critically about my own belief structure. This was instrumental in allowing me to either change my thinking on issues I was in disagreement with or strengthen my position on issues that I care about. I have seen Dr. Skaggs since taking her course in the Fall and she was just as lovely outside of class that she was inside. I think that other professors at UT Dallas could benefit enormously from her approach to teaching and that she emulates everything that a university professor should be."