EPPS Students Honor Top Teachers with Awards

Dr. Denis Dean

Dr. Denis Dean

Winners of the School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences (EPPS) Outstanding Teaching Comet Awards are selected by those who may know their talents best: students.

The annual awards for faculty members and graduate teaching assistants, which were presented at an April ceremony, are based solely on student feedback. Students who nominated and voted for their favorite instructors praised this year’s winners for inspiring them, making difficult subjects understandable and going out of their way to help them learn.

UT Dallas offers other teaching awards that factor in student comments as well as other criteria. EPPS created its awards six years ago to give students a chance to make the call, said Dr. Denis Dean, dean of EPPS.

Dr. Anthony Cummings

Dr. Anthony Cummings

“What makes the Teaching Comet Awards unique is that they are entirely student-run,” Dean said. “In my mind, that’s valuable. To get that pat on the back from students is something everybody takes seriously.”

The nominations show that students respond to faculty members who go above and beyond, Dean said.

“It’s just the way those instructors are. They’re people who take an interest in their students. They’re people who want to go that extra mile to make sure their students are getting everything they can out of their university experience,” he said.

One student who nominated Dr. Anthony Cummings, assistant professor of geospatial information sciences, called him “the best professor I’ve ever had.”

“Dr. Cummings has mentored me methodically, and challenged me,” another student wrote. “He is direct in his feedback, expects high-quality work and gives clear instructions. His professionalism inspires and motivates me to work very hard.”

Dr. Rubia Valente

Dr. Rubia Valente

One of the many qualities that students liked about Dr. Rubia Valente was that she learned their names.

“Dr. Valente impressed me very much with her style of teaching, right from day one. She knows all her students by name and personally takes interest in their learning and is concerned about their performance as well,” the student wrote.

Valente said she could not think of a higher honor than being nominated for a teaching award by students.

“It reaffirms my calling, and I am humbled by their touching comments. I love teaching. It’s truly the best part of my day and there is nothing more rewarding than hearing that I have made a difference in my students’ lives and that I inspired them to pursue their dreams,” she said. “I couldn’t be happier and more honored to receive this award.”

2016 Outstanding Teaching Comet Awards

CriminologyWinner: Dr. Denise Paquette BootsHonorable mentions: Alexis Harper, graduate research assistant; Dr. Bruce Jacobs

EconomicsWinner: Christopher Roby, teaching assistantHonorable Mentions: Dr. Daniel OBrien, Dr. Daniel Arce, Dr. Dong Li, Dr. Rodney Andrews, Dr. Sherry Xin Li, Dr. Stephen Kiser, Dr. Victor Valcarcel

Geospatial Information SciencesWinner: Dr. Anthony CummingsHonorable Mentions: Dr. Irina Vakulenko, Dr. Yongwan Chun

Political ScienceWinner: Dr. Brian BerryHonorable Mentions: Dr. Clint Peinhardt, Dr. Linda Keith, Dr. Patrick Brandt

Public and Nonprofit ManagementWinner: Dr. James HarringtonHonorable Mentions: Dr. Donald Arbuckle, Dr. Doug Kiel, Dr. John McCaskill, Dr. Meghna Sabharwal, Dr. Paul Battaglio, Teodoro Benavides, Dr. Young-joo Lee

Public Policy and Political EconomyWinner: Dr. Rubia ValenteHonorable Mentions: Dr. Dohyeong Kim, Dr. Donald Hicks, Dr. Jonas Bunte, Dr. Simon Fass

SociologyWinner: Dr. Bobby AlexanderHonorable Mentions: Dr. Kara Sutton, Dr. Sheryl Skaggs

Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].

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