Honorees Share Commitment and Teaching Philosophies

The six UT Dallas faculty members who are 2011 Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award winners share a deep commitment to undergraduate education. They are experts in a wide variety of subjects but are driven to teach for some very similar reasons.


Jennifer S. Holmes, Ph.D.

Dr. Jennifer Holmes
Associate Professor of Political Economy and Political Science
School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences

“In terms of a teaching philosophy, I confess to being dogmatically pragmatic,” Holmes said. “Substantively, I have four goals in the classroom: Provide students with the opportunity to increase their interest in the subject matter, sharpen their critical thinking abilities, help them with their research skills, and draw connections between the world and the academic literature.”


Candice Mills

Dr. Candice Mills
Assistant Professor
School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences

“My primary goal as a teacher is to prepare students to be scientifically critical consumers of psychological information,” Mills said. “I believe that encouraging critical thinking serves multiple purposes: It helps students better understand the psychology material we are discussing, and it also helps them develop skills that should be useful for them outside of the classroom.”

Robert G. Morris, Ph.D.

Dr. Robert  Morris
Assistant Professor of Criminology
School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences

“To me, higher education is about the development of critical thinking skills, analytical ability, and discipline in the processing and delivery of information,” Morris said. “Everyone practices this implicitly by nature; however, it’s my job to help guide students to become more systematic at it, so when they leave the University, they have an edge. Regardless of whether my students are majoring in criminology or electrical engineering, motivating this style of learning is what inspires me, and it’s very exciting to watch students develop as thinkers. My goal is to give them something they can take with them for the long haul.”

Lawrence J. Overzet

Dr. Lawrence Overzet
Professor, Associate Department Chair, Electrical Engineering
Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science

“Fingers. That’s the key,” Overzet said. “Learning can be fun sometimes, but it is always hard work, and it takes root when it passes through the fingers. So coach students into using their fingers to learn. Every good coach works his/her athletes hard for the good of the athletes. The best coaches say things like, ‘We’re in this together, and nobody will outwork us.’ Well, faculty can coach their students to do the hard work of learning in a similar way: ‘We’re in this together and nobody is going to outwork us.’ Then make those fundamentals pass through their fingers.”


Matthew M. Polze

Dr. Matthew Polze
Associate Dean, Undergraduate Programs, and Senior Lecturer
School of Management

“They ask me why I teach, and I reply, ‘Where could I find more splendid company?’ This quote from a poem by Glennice L. Harmon sums up my love of teaching. It is all about the students. Each and every semester I have the privilege of working with students that are each exceptional in their own ways, and my goal in each class is to emphasize the love of learning.”

John W. Sibert

Dr. John Sibert
Associate Professor, Department of Chemistry
School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics

“I have great enthusiasm for my discipline and enjoy taking students on journeys through and out of their textbooks. Associated with learning is a joy that, when emphasized, allows for natural curiosity to feed interest which is rewarded by discovery. It is important for students to understand the relevance of what they are learning — ‘the big picture’ — prior to focusing on necessary details. Chemistry is a story, complete with human and content-based relationships. Thus, I emphasize connections to prior content in addition to building bridges to the future. I encourage inquisitive minds and expect a high standard of excellence, while fostering playful, learned interactions with the surrounding world.”

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