Three Recognized for Outstanding Teaching, Advising
May 12, 2008
Two educators and one staff member were honored for their teaching and academic advising at the University Honor’s Convocation Friday, May 9.
- Dr. Michael Kilgard, a professor in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences, was the recipient of the 2007-08 Chancellor’s Council Outstanding Teaching Award from The University of Texas System. It is the highest honor a faculty member can receive.
- Timothy Farage, a senior lecturer in the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science, received the 2007-08 President’s Outstanding Teaching Award for non-tenured-track faculty.
- Eric Welgehausen, an assistant director for academic advising at UT Dallas, was the recipient of the University’s first Academic Advisor of the Year Award.
“Each of these individuals deserves these honors and should know how special they are because the recognition comes from our students,” said UT Dallas President Dr. David E. Daniel. “As outstanding teachers and advisors, they are committed to preparing our students for a lifetime of contribution and achievement. I thank them for their service to the University and to the UT System.”
Kilgard was selected from more than 114 tenured or tenure-track faculty members who were nominated by undergraduate students for the honor. A committee, comprised of the past three winners, the student body president and the dean of undergraduate education, narrowed the nominations to four finalists and then reviewed letters of recommendation, teaching evaluations and the opinions of the finalists’ deans before selecting Kilgard as the winner.
The UT System sponsors the annual award to recognize excellence in undergraduate teaching at each of the system’s academic institutions. The award is accompanied by a $5,000 stipend.
Kilgard, a neuroscientist, joined UT Dallas in 1999. In 2002, he was recognized for his contributions to the University with the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences Teaching Award and the Callier Scholar Award.
Kilgard’s commitment to teaching dates to his graduate school days. While earning his Ph.D. in neuroscience from the University of California, San Francisco, he served as a teaching assistant and as a volunteer neuroscience instructor for local elementary, middle and high schools in the San Francisco school district.
Today, in his UT Dallas laboratory, Kilgard continues to ensure that teaching and research go hand-in-hand, where he creates research opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students. In addition to his extensive research, Kilgard serves as a faculty advisor for the Eugene McDermott Scholars Program, teaches graduate courses in cellular neuroscience, developmental neuroscience and information processing in the auditory cortex.
In nominating him, students praised his teaching style, subject knowledge and enthusiasm. One undergraduate commented, “He is passionate about teaching. He actively engages us in class and challenges us to use our imaginations.” Another student said, “He tries to start out every day with something fun to get people excited about class.” The remark that best encompassed the students’ appreciation for Kilgard’s influence was, “He taught me how to think.”
Timothy Farage received the 2007-08 President’s Outstanding Teaching Award for non-tenured-track faculty.
Farage’s award includes a $3,000 stipend from the University.
He has been a senior lecturer in computer science at UT Dallas since 2000 and has lectured at the University since 1986. He teaches courses in discrete mathematics, computer networks, C++, data structures, computer architecture and logic design, and his students’ teaching evaluations for all those classes have been “simply outstanding,” according to Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science Dean Bob Helms.
One student’s remarks about Farage, in particular, struck a chord with the awards committee: “He pays attention to the world.”
Farage has had extensive experience in the private sector, working as a software engineer at Raytheon Co. and as a team leader at Inet Technologies Inc., a company that monitors and manages signaling systems used by telecommunications carriers. His academic interests are in the fields of cryptography, digital signal processing and distributed processing.
“Mr. Farage is by far the best instructor I have had throughout my entire college career,” wrote one student. Another said: “I learned a lot about a subject I thought I already knew well.”
For his own part, Farage said he makes “frequent, and occasionally, successful attempts at using humor” to make his lectures “even more interesting than they already are.”
“I enjoy teaching classes in discrete math I and II, because I have a math background as well as a computer science background,” said Farage. “I believe I’ve found ways to teach the material in those courses in both an interesting way and in a way that emphasizes the practical applications of the subject matter.”
He holds a B.A. in mathematics from Case Western Reserve University and an M.S. in computer science from UT Dallas.
Welgehausen was chosen for the honor from among 19 advisors and by more than 400 nominations from students. As the recipient of award, he will receive a $1,000 stipend.
Welgehausen joined the University in 1999. He serves as the lead advisor for undeclared underclassmen. He also coordinates and teaches the First-Year Leader program for Rhetoric 1101, a required course that all freshmen must take during their first semester at the University.
Rhetoric is a one-credit-hour course that addresses issues like connecting with campus, personal learning styles and the nature of the college experience. Classes are small — typically fewer than 20 students per instructor — to allow for in-depth discussions of course topics.
Welgehausen said his favorite thing about teaching Rhetoric is having the students he advises — those who are undeclared majors — in his classes.
“It allows me to get to know them on different levels,” he said. “And that helps me provide the right assistance and guidance for helping them set the course for their academic careers. It’s a very fulfilling experience.”
In nominating him, one student wrote: “Year in and year out, Mr. Welgehausen continues to go above and beyond the call of duty. Not only does he provide apt advising on academic matters, he continues to help his students in and out of the classroom. He has an uncanny ability to connect with his advisee on the personal level, making students feel that he wants to help. His advising lets undeclared students have one certainty: an exceptional counselor.”
Prior to UT Dallas, Welgehausen worked at The University of Texas at Arlington, the University of North Texas and Eastfield College. He received a degree in history from UTA and a master’s degree in counseling and student development from UNT.