Professors Receive Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Awards

Dr. Mieczyslaw Dabkowski, associate professor of mathematical sciences; Dr. Robert Hart, clinical associate professor of mechanical engineering; and Dr. Sabrina Starnaman, clinical associate professor of arts and humanities, are among 56 honorees from across The University of Texas Systems 14 academic and health institutions.

From left: Dr. Robert Hart, Dr. Sabrina Starnaman and Dr. Mieczyslaw Dabkowski are among 56 UT System educators honored with 2017 Regents' Outstanding Teaching Awards.

Three UT Dallas educators have been honored with 2017 Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Awards (ROTA) for delivering the highest quality instruction in the classroom, laboratory, field and online. 

Dr. Mieczyslaw Dabkowski, associate professor of mathematical sciences; Dr. Robert Hart, clinical associate professor of mechanical engineering; and Dr. Sabrina Starnaman, clinical associate professor in the School of Arts and Humanities, are among 56 honorees from across The University of Texas System’s 14 academic and health institutions.

“I was stunned,” Starnaman said. “It is such an honor to be included in the same category as the outstanding teachers who have come before me.”

Starnaman received her PhD in literature from the University of California, San Diego. She specializes in American literature, disability studies, gender, urbanism, speculative fiction and literature of science. She previously received the President’s Outstanding Teaching Award, and was also awarded the Victor Worsfold Outstanding Teaching Award from the School of Arts and Humanities.

Originally from Poland, Dabkowski earned his PhD at George Washington University and has been with UT Dallas since 2003. He teaches topology, mathematical analysis and abstract algebra, with a research focus on knot theory, in the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.

“It is important for instructors to be committed to their teaching task, to pay close attention to students’ needs, and to be willing to help students bring out their best and fulfill their potential,” said Dabkowski, who previously received the President’s Outstanding Teaching Award.

What They Said

“I’ve worked with Dr. Dabkowski for many years now, and he is one of the best faculty members we have on campus. He is a superb researcher, an excellent teacher and a wonderful colleague. He is so deserving of this award.”
Dr. Matthew Goeckner, professor of physics and associate dean of natural sciences

"Robert (Hart) is highly deserving of this recognition. He designed and implemented a two-semester senior design sequence that is academically rigorous and industrially relevant, and he developed a framework for senior design that truly prepares students to enter the workforce."
Dr. Mario A. Rotea, Erik Jonsson Chair in Engineering and Computer Science and head of the Mechanical Engineering Department

"Students know and appreciate superior teaching. They have told me that Dr. Starnaman listens patiently, counsels prudently and prods them unrelentingly to think both more grandly and more critically. One of her students wrote about Dr. Starnaman  in in her classes the study of the course content is always intertwined with 'a primer on how to be a good student.' That combined focus on the subject and the student characterizes for me true educational excellence."
Dr. Dennis M. Kratz, dean of the School of Arts and Humanities, and Ignacy and Celina Rockover Professor of Humanities

After a career as a practicing engineer, Hart earned his PhD from The University of Texas at Austin and refocused his work on academics and teaching. He coordinates and teaches the mechanical engineering senior capstone design course in the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science, and has an active interest in engineering education.

Hart said students are seeking teachers who are passionate about what they do and what they teach.

“If the professor doesn’t care, why should the students? An infectious enthusiasm goes a long way to motivate students to learn,” Hart said. “Students really appreciate a teacher that cares about them and their success.”

Established in 2008 to recognize exceptionally dedicated faculty, the honor includes a $25,000 cash award for each recipient. Winners were recently recognized at a ceremony in Austin, where the UT System Board of Regents awarded a total of $1.4 million to this year’s honorees. Over the last nine years, regents have granted nearly $18 million to more than 700 UT System faculty members through the program.

“The Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Awards is one of the nation’s largest awards programs to honor exceptional instruction in the university classroom,” Regents Chairman Paul Foster said. “It is a reflection of the value The University of Texas System and the Board of Regents place on extraordinary teaching and student success, and it serves as a symbol of our sincere appreciation to these wonderful educators and the life-changing impact they have on students at UT institutions.”

The three UT Dallas honorees said the environment at the University creates great opportunities for student learning.

“I tell everyone I meet about the students at UT Dallas,” Starnaman said. “UT Dallas students are the most diverse and intense students I have ever had the privilege to work with. I am impressed by the ways that the UT Dallas community is inclusive and engaged, thanks to our student body.”

Hart said this is an exciting time for higher education as people are exploring new and innovative ways to teach.

“I think it is great to see universities establish on-campus resources, such as the UT Dallas Center for Teaching and Learning, that bring education to the forefront and help train faculty to be better teachers,” he said.

Dabkowski said UT Dallas’ faculty members work to enhance each student’s academic experience.

“I know many dedicated teachers all over campus who take their responsibility very seriously and care deeply about students,” he said. “I believe the state of teaching at UT Dallas is excellent.”

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

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