RICHARDSON, Texas (Aug. 25, 2006) — University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) Professor Dr. Tim Redman, founder and director of the university’s internationally acclaimed chess program, received the United States Chess Federation’s 2006 Scholastic Service Award this month at the organization’s annual convention in Oak Brook, Illinois. The award has been presented annually since 1994; this was the first time it was given for achievements in college chess.
At the same time, saying that he wanted to devote more time to teaching, research and writing, Redman announced that he will step down as head of the UTD chess program, effective Aug. 31. He will, however, continue his work in the field of chess and education. Chess and Education: Selected Essays from the Koltanowski Conference, edited by Redman, will be published next month by the UTD chess program.
Redman, a professor of literary studies in UTD’s School of Arts and Humanities and one of the university’s most popular teachers, founded the chess program at UTD in 1996 after having served as advisor to the university’s chess club for a year. Less than a year and a half later, in December 1997, UTD shocked the chess world by finishing second in the Pan American Intercollegiate Team Chess Championship, the most prestigious tournament of its kind held in the Western Hemisphere. Over the next nine years, UTD finished first or tied for first four times in the Pan Am, and in both 2001 and 2002 was awarded the President’s Cup, which goes to the winner of the Final Four of Chess competition – a tournament that UTD created.
Redman also started a national Internet-based college chess league and founded the UTD Grandmaster Invitational, an international event that each December brings some of the best chess players in the world to North Texas for more than a week.
Under the direction of Redman, a two-time president of the U.S. Chess Federation, UTD’s chess program encompassed far more than the team and intercollegiate competition. The program included online chess-in-education classes for teachers, community outreach to inner-city schools (with UTD chess team members serving as mentors), scholarships that took chess performance into account and an academic conference on the use of chess as an educational tool. In only a few years, it became the most comprehensive and innovative university chess program in the country.
Partially in recognition of that fact, the World Chess Federation three years ago named UTD as one of its only two officially designated centers for chess education in the world (Moscow State Social University in Russia was the other university selected). In granting the designation, the federation (Fédération Internationale des Échecs), known as FIDE, named the two schools as CACDEC (Committee for Assistance to Chess Developing Countries) educational centers and charged them with developing categories and standards for university chess programs that offer training to teachers seeking to establish or enhance K-12 chess programs. The goal is to create broader-reaching chess education initiatives throughout the world.
That kind of global recognition for the medium-sized, relatively young university in Richardson was virtually priceless, noted Dr. Michael Coleman, UTD associate provost and dean of undergraduate education.
“Tim helped us tremendously in getting the word out about UTD,” Coleman said. “Chess became a metaphor for academic excellence and intellectual rigor. Our chess team was one of the best – in some years, the best – anywhere, and we were regularly beating the Harvards and Stanfords of the world. And our chess players graduated and often went on for higher degrees. People began to realize that UTD was a serious place where someone could get a superb education at a reasonable price.”
In 2001, after UTD won the Final Four championship for the first time, The Dallas Morning News published an editorial that said, “Six years ago, Professor Redman persuaded school administrators to organize a chess team as a cerebral expression of the school’s growing reputation as a quality, high-tech training ground. Admittedly, chess lacks the national cachet of Saturday afternoon football. But that hasn’t stopped UTD, which incidentally doesn’t have a football team, from taking its pawns and rooks quite seriously. . . . Applaud UTD for a big win this weekend. Then clap even louder for its out-of-the-box thinking to promote learning and life skills on and off the campus.”
Redman, who himself was a member of the national champion University of Chicago chess team of 1974 and 1975, said he was stepping down as director of the program because “the program will benefit from new ideas and new energy.” James Stallings, the program’s associate director, will become director on Sept. 1. Redman said he wanted to devote more of his time to his “day job” as a full professor of literary studies. Redman is an internationally renowned expert on the poet Ezra Pound and is the author of Ezra Pound and Italian Fascism (Cambridge University Press, 1991). He currently is at work on a biography of the poet.
Redman also serves as president of PEN Texas, an international association of prominent literary writers and editors, and was recently elected to the Board of Directors of PEN USA, one of the two national PEN Centers in the United States. Last year he served as chief Texas judge for the PEN Southwest Book Awards (jointly sponsored by PEN Texas and PEN New Mexico).
Redman received a lifetime achievement award from PEN Texas in 2001 for his involvement with the Lone Star Writing Contest, his commitment to the Freedom-to-Write Committee, his biographical work on Pound and his involvement with chess as an educational tool.
“I love chess and always will,” Redman said. “But I am first and foremost a writer, a teacher and a scholar.
The University of Texas at Dallas, located at the convergence of Richardson, Plano and Dallas in the heart of the complex of major multinational technology corporations known as the Telecom Corridor, enrolls nearly 14,500 students. The school’s freshman class traditionally stands at the forefront of Texas state universities in terms of average SAT scores. The university offers a broad assortment of bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs. For additional information about UTD, please visit the university’s website at www.utdallas.edu.