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Five Texas A&M faculty members have been awarded the 2023 University Professorships for Undergraduate Teaching Excellence (UPUTE). These awards are conferred upon the most exemplary teachers of undergraduate students at Texas A&M University for their innovative teaching methods, seeking engagement with other educators and persistent pursuits of inspiring new knowledge.

Each UPUTE award carries a three-year salary supplement and an annual discretionary bursary to support teaching and expand opportunities for professional development. Faculty members who are awarded these professorships are expected to be actively involved in faculty development programs for teaching for the duration of their award.

The University Professorships for Undergraduate Teaching Excellence are made possible through generous endowments provided by George and Irma Eppright, John I. Kincaid, and Arthur J. and Wilhelmina Doré Thaman.

The recipients of the 2023 University Professorships for Undergraduate Teaching Excellence are:

Headshot of Emily Cantrell

Emily Cantrell
Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering
College of Engineering

Dr. Emily Cantrell is a clinical associate professor in the Department of Teaching, Learning, and Culture, where she teaches undergraduate courses in literacy as well as multiculturalism. She serves as co-chair of the Advanced Literacy Studies Program, director of the Reading Specialist Program, and director of the Lohman Learning Community. Dr. Cantrell received her Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction and has been employed at Texas A&M University for 12 years. During her time at Texas A&M, she has received the Association of Former Students College level Teaching Award, the Dean’s Development Council Award for Extraordinary Service, certification in Effective College Instruction from the Association of College and University Educators, the TLAC Outstanding Service Award, student recognition in the Your Voice Matters campaign, certification as a Hullaballoo U instructor, the Hello2 Certification from the Center for Teaching Excellence, the Student-Recognized Award for Teaching Excellence, and selection as a T-Camp Namesake by students. Dr. Cantrell has been influential in the development and growth of the many highly successful Science of Teaching Reading initiatives for undergraduate education majors, including but not limited to RDNG (Reading) course and degree plan revision and realignment, supplemental Texas Education Agency Science of Teaching Reading (STR) workshops leading to 100% student pass rates on the new rigorous STR state certification exam, forming and leading an STR Community of Practice for undergraduate instructors across all TAMU campuses, and the Early Start Reading Specialist program for undergraduates. She is recognized within and outside of Texas A&M for her work in effective preservice teacher preparation in evidence-based literacy instruction. Further, Dr. Cantrell implements extraordinary learning experiences for her students in her classes through multiple service-learning projects, museum field trips, local school partnerships, guest speakers, and other extracurricular opportunities. Dr. Cantrell works tirelessly to increase the quality of preparation and support that undergraduate education majors receive to meet the diverse needs of their students, as evidenced in her teaching, research, and service.

Headshot of James D. Herman

James D. Herman
Department of Veterinary Physiology and Pharmacology
School of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences

Dr. James D. Herman is a clinical professor in the Department of Veterinary Physiology & Pharmacology and has been employed at Texas A&M University since 1990. Since that time, he has served as the chair of the Biomedical Sciences Curriculum Committee as well as the chair and vice‐chair of the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee (UCC). Dr. Herman continues to serve his department as a member of the Executive Committee and as the Education Coordinator, as he maintains his commitments to helping VMBS early career faculty advance in their careers in the teaching arena. As a part of “The Path Forward”, he serves as the vice‐chair of Biomedical Sciences Undergraduate Instruction Committee (BIMS UIC) in the College of Arts & Sciences as well as a host for the BIMS Program Re‐Design Committee through the Center of Teaching Excellence (CTE). Dr. Herman has served the CTE as a frequent member of the Faculty & Student Advisory Board and has attended numerous workshops - completing ACUE training, becoming credentialed in Effective College Instruction and micro‐credentialed in Creating an Inclusive and Supportive Learning Environment, Promoting Active Learning, Inspiring Inquiry and Preparing Lifelong Learners, and Designing Student‐Centered Courses. He also completed “APT to Lead”, a 2‐semester leadership training course offered through the (then) Dean of Faculties Office. An endowed Professorship is being established in Dr. Herman’s name with a goal of providing scholarships for BIMS undergraduate students. His teaching has been recognized through the awarding of the Richard A Davis Teaching Award (1997), BIMS Teaching Award (1999), Montague Scholar (2005), AFS Distinguished Achievement in Teaching College Level (2006) and University Level (2008), Gamma Sigma Delta – Outstanding Teacher in BIMS (2010), Bridges Teaching and Service Award (2012), and Presidential Professor of Teaching Excellence (2016).

Headshot of James D. Pennington

James D. Pennington
Department of Chemistry
College of Arts & Sciences

Dr. James Pennington is an instructional associate professor in the Department of Chemistry, where he identifies his primary responsibility and professional passion as “teaching sophomore organic chemistry for non-chemistry majors”. He specifies that, “being able to interact with and influence these future doctors, dentists, veterinarians, and engineers at a critical time in their intellectual development is a blessing and an incredibly rewarding responsibility.” In order to better serve his students, Dr. Pennington regularly seeks out opportunities to grow and improve his teaching skills by taking advantage of various programs within the Center for Teaching Excellence, attending the annual Wakonse South and main Wakonse teaching conferences, and being on the Transformative Teaching and Learning Conference planning committee for the past four years. For the past 15 years, he has served as the coordinator and chief presenter for the Texas A&M Chemistry Road Show, one of the premier education outreach programs of the Texas A&M Chemistry Department and the College of Arts & Sciences. The Chemistry Road Show is presented approximately 80 times per year for schools, libraries, and other organizations across Texas, bringing fun and educational science demonstrations to over 15,000 attendees annually. As the Chemistry Road Show’s coordinator, Dr. Pennington gets the opportunity to work closely with and mentor about a dozen Aggie assistant demonstrators as they engage in service learning and outreach. In 2006, he was honored as a Fish Camp Namesake. In 2007 and 2015, he received the Association of Former Student College Level and University Level Distinguished Achievement Awards in Teaching, respectively. Dr. Pennington was most recently selected for a Provost Academic Professional Track Faculty Teaching Excellence Award in 2022.

Headshot of Arun R. Srinivasa

Arun R. Srinivasa
J. Mike Walker ’66 Department of Mechanical Engineering
College of Engineering

Dr. Arun Srinivasa earned his Ph.D. in 1991 from the University of California-Berkeley and has now been a faculty member at Texas A&M for 26 years where he holds the Holdrege/Paul Professorship for distinction in teaching and pedagogy in the J. Mike Walker’66 Department of Mechanical Engineering. He is dedicated to the undergraduate teaching mission of the department and served as associate department head for Undergraduate Programs twice (2013-2017 and 2021-2022). Dr. Srinivasa teaches a wide range of courses in the mechanics and design area. His educational interests include the incorporation of technology into education in a way that is inclusive and accessible to students from diverse backgrounds and the development of quantitative design and decision-making activities as the foundation of engineering education. Dr. Srinivasa is currently also co-PI and director for the National Science Foundation RED (Revolutionizing Engineering Departments) Grant for the Department of Mechanical Engineering to create a community of practice focused on continuous innovation in teaching. He has authored and co-authored over 150 journal publications and co-authored three books on the plasticity, damage, fracture, and fatigue of materials with application to manufacturing and durability of mechanical components. Dr. Srinivasa is the recipient of the 2021 American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Ben Sparks Medal for his work on the use of technology in undergraduate education, the 2021 ASME Student Chapter Best Teacher Award, the 2019 ASME Worchester Reed Warner Medal for outstanding contribution to the permanent literature of engineering, the 2019 faculty of the year award from Texas A&M Qatar, the 2018 ASME Archie Higdon award for his contributions to mechanics education, 2015 Association of Former Students College Distinguished Teaching Award, the 2013 Association of Former Students University Distinguished Teaching Award, and the 2005 British Petroleum award for teaching excellence.

Headshot of Kati I. Stoddard

Kati I. Stoddard
Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology
College of Agriculture & Life Sciences

Dr. Kati I. Stoddard received her Ph.D. in Environmental Science from the University of North Texas in 2012. She joined the Plant Pathology and Microbiology department at Texas A&M University as an instructional assistant professor in 2015, where she was promoted to Instructional Associate Professor in Fall 2020 and has served as the associate department head for Undergraduate Programs since Fall 2021. Dr. Stoddard teaches undergraduate courses in bioenvironmental sciences (BESC), including introduction to BESC (BESC 201) and sampling and environmental monitoring (BESC 403). She developed both 15-week online version of BESC 201 and a 5-week summer version of the course. Dr. Stoddard makes continual improvements to her courses, incorporating things such as case-studies, scenarios, debates, in-class polling, mini posters sessions, and universal design. She earned the Association of College and University Educators (ACUE) Scaling Instructional Excellence for Students Success certification in 2021 after completing a 25-week asynchronous online professional development certification course on evidence based-practices for teaching and learning. Dr. Stoddard was selected as one of ten core members for the Center for Teaching Excellence’s Innovation and Design for Exploration and Analysis in Teaching Excellence (IDEATE) scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) community. She co-presented research generated with this group at the American Educational Research Association conference in 2022. Dr. Stoddard has presented at the Transformational Teaching and Learning conference three times and its precursor conference, Wakonse South, once. She was part of the first Innovative Pedagogy Grant Project cohort in 2017, for which she earned $10,000 for the work she did to redesign BESC 201. In 2020, Dr. Stoddard received the College-level Texas A&M Association of Former Students Distinguished Achievement Award for Teaching. She also received her department’s teaching excellence award in 2016. Dr. Stoddard currently serves as a mentor to three graduate students through the Academy for Future Faculty.