School Recognizes Faculty, Staff, Alumni with Annual Awards

Todd Fechter, Dean Dennis Kratz and Victor Worsfold

From left: Assistant Professor Todd Fechter, Dean Dennis Kratz and Professor Emeritus Victor Worsfold. Fechter was selected as the Victor Worsfold Teacher of the Year.

The School of Arts and Humanities has named ATEC Assistant Professor Todd Fechter the Victor Worsfold Teacher of the Year.

Fechter, who has experience working in television and film production, teaches courses in 3D computer animation in the school’s Arts and Technology (ATEC) program. He created the first online ATEC computer animation digital class archive, providing unlimited access to course materials and examples that allow for off-campus learning and review.

“Todd is an inspiring teacher, mentor and more. He has taken a leadership role in developing an animation program of the highest quality. His impact is already and quite literally visible in the superior work that our students are producing,” said Dr. Dennis M. Kratz, dean of the School of Arts and Humanities.

Lisa Lyles

LaToya Watkins was named the Victor Worsfold Teaching Assistant of the Year.

Akin Babatunde


Akin Babatunde received an Alumni of the Year Award.

Fechter's honor was part of the school’s Outstanding Faculty and Teaching Awards, which are presented yearly and are named for Professor Emeritus Victor Worsfold, who taught ethics and philosophy at UT Dallas from 1975 to 2001. Dr. Worsfold was present for the awards ceremony.

The Worsfold Teaching Assistant (TA) of the Year award went to LaToya Watkins, a PhD candidate in aesthetic studies.

“I was absolutely surprised and thrilled to learn that I had received the award. It helped to remind me that hard work and dedication really pay off at some point, and even though it seems that no one notices the labor that goes into being a TA, people are paying attention,” said Watkins.

Akin Babatunde and David Hanson were named Alumni of the Year.

As an actor, Akin Babatunde has appeared on major network television dramas, including the two-part season premiere of Law & Order: Criminal Intent in 2010. Babatunde’s off-Broadway bio-musical, Blind Lemon Blues, was nominated in four categories for the 2010 New York Audelco Awards for Excellence in Black Theater. The play received nominations for Best Director, Best Choreographer, Best Ensemble and Best Musical Production of the Year.

Babatunde has a master’s degree in humanities from UT Dallas.

“Akin is an internationally recognized actor and director. He is also a heroic mentor of young people, enhancing their talents and their lives through engagement with drama. He is a man of extraordinary goodness,” said Kratz.

David Hanson received his PhD from UT Dallas in aesthetic studies and interactive arts and engineering. In 2003, he founded Hanson Robotics to pursue character robot research and applications.

David Hanson,who founded Hanson Robotics, received an Alumni of the Year Award. He speaks about his lifelike robots in this TED Talk.

Hanson creates androids – humanlike robots with intelligence. Through integrated research in cognitive artificial intelligence, bio-inspired mechanics, material science, sculpture and animation, expressive robotic faces and walking robot bodies, Hanson strives to bring robots to life. The walking, talking robots resulting from Hanson’s efforts have been recognized in various publications, including Wired and PC Magazine.

“David Hanson has helped revolutionize our notion of what a robot is and the possibilities of robotics in education. His robots with human faces are displayed around the world, adding luster to our aspiration of leadership at the intersection of arts and technology,” added Kratz.

Lisa Lyles received the Jo Ellen Roach Staff of the Year award.

“I’m going on my seventh year in the Arts and Humanities dean’s suite. I really enjoy talking to and assisting the faculty, staff and students who come through the suite,” said Lyles.

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