Prof Says Early Role Model Remains an Inspiration
UT System Honors Longtime Political Science Instructor Anthony Champagne
Aug. 21, 2009
Dr. Anthony Champagne understands the difference a phenomenal teacher can make in a student’s life.
The political science professor vividly remembers the teaching style of Howard Bavender, an undergraduate professor he had at Millsaps College almost 40 years ago. It is a style that Champagne has worked to emulate in his own classroom, and it is one that has earned him a prestigious teaching award four decades later.
Champagne is a recipient of the UT System Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award for tenured faculty. The award was accompanied by at $30,000 stipend.
“The award is thrilling,” he said. “I’ve been teaching 36 years – 31 at UT Dallas. It’s a recognition that people realize I really have been trying to do a good job. It’s nice when you’re approaching the end of your career for the UT System to say, ‘We think you’ve been a good teacher.’”
Champagne’s teaching excellence has not previously gone unnoticed. He has twice won the Student Choice Award in the School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences (EPPS). He has also twice received the Amoco Outstanding Teacher Award at UT Dallas and previously received the Chancellor’s Council Outstanding Teaching Award from the UT System.
“Dr. Champagne’s award illustrates the high level of teaching quality that we value in EPPS,” said Dr. Brian Berry, dean of the school. “We’re delighted that some of our best instructors have achieved statewide recognition for their talents. UT Dallas has benefited for several decades from Professor Champagne’s high-caliber teaching.”
Champagne gives credit for his success to the good fortune of having a role model like Bavender. “It is so useful for someone teaching to have had a teacher like that. It’s a great reference point,” he said. “I continually find myself asking, ‘What would Bavender do?’”
Champagne has served as a role model for many, and he now has former students asking, “What would Champagne do?”
Dr. Linda Keith, a colleague in EPPS, had Champagne as an undergraduate professor. She says it is a “daunting challenge” to teach courses that Champagne has taught.
“The standards are so high that I doubt we will ever be able to live up to this man in the classroom,” Keith said. “Long before the phrases ‘student-centered learning,’ ‘engaged learning,’ or ‘active learning’ became the buzz-words for innovation in higher education pedagogy, Professor Champagne was practicing these principles.”
Courses Champagne regularly teaches include Constitutional Law, Law and Medicine, Civil Liberties and Moot Court, but his dedication extends beyond the classroom.
He is the director of the UT Dallas Pre-Law program, which has grown from three students to 150 during his 30 years of leadership. He has created opportunities for pre-law students by teaching or sponsoring Moot Court, Mock Trial and Mediation programs, and committing the time to work and travel with students as they compete at the state and national levels in those events. Pre-law students have been particularly successful in getting into top schools after graduation; in one year, UT Dallas students were accepted in 19 of the top 20 law schools in the nation.
Champagne not only works to help his students earn admission to the nation’s top law schools but also enjoys tracking their success. He started the UT Dallas Lawyers, an alumni association of several hundred students who have gone on to become lawyers after graduating from UT Dallas. Members often return to talk to share their experiences and insight about law school admission and the profession.
“I find it great fun to talk to students about law schools and to follow their careers,” Champagne said. “Being a teacher is like reading just a part of the book. You want to find out what happened.”
Dr. Anthony Champagne credits his success to the good fortune of having a role model. The professor of political science is also the director of the UT Dallas Pre-Law Program.
Regents’ Teaching Awards