NSM Faculty/Staff Newsletter

From the Office of the Dean

2021 John C. Butler Excellence in Teaching Awards Announced

The John C. Butler Excellence in Teaching Award recognizes NSM faculty, who have demonstrated outstanding accomplishments in teaching and a track record of dedication to the teaching mission of NSM.

Typically, two awards are made yearly: one to a tenured/tenure-track faculty member and one to an instructional faculty member. Selection of an awardee in either of the categories is contingent upon receipt of no less than three competitive applications in said category.

The 2021 Butler Award winners are Tai-Yen Chen, assistant professor, Chemistry, and Lisa Farmer, instructional assistant professor, Biology & Biochemistry. Congratulations Tai-Yen and Lisa for your outstanding teaching!

In addition to formal classroom or lab teaching, tenured/tenure-track faculty members may also be evaluated on the basis of their graduate student training. Each award comes with a monetary award, a plaque, and a nameplate on a plaque in the Dean’s Office. The award recipients are also recognized as part of NSM Commencement.

Applicants are judged on their teaching/training record via their CV, teaching statement, student evaluations of teaching including their comments, grade distributions, and letters from students and faculty. It is anticipated that peer evaluations of teaching will be a factor in future years.

Recommendations to the Dean for potential winners of the awards are made by an ad hoc college-wide committee consisting of one representative from each department comprised of a mix of tenured/tenure-track and non-tenure track faculty.

The 2021 Review Committee included:

  • Mini Das, Associate Professor, Physics
  • Christoph Eick, Associate Professor, Computer Science
  • Arne Lekven, Associate Professor, Biology & Biochemistry
  • Ognjen Miljanic, Professor, Chemistry
  • Cathy Poliak, Instructional Assistant Professor, Math
  • Jinny Sisson, Instructional Professor, Earth & Atmospheric Sciences
  • James Briggs, ex officio, Professor and Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs
  • Donna Stokes, ex officio, Professor and Associate Dean for Undergraduate Affairs and Student Success

The applicant pools have historically been highly competitive, and this year was no exception. It is always a tough job to evaluate and rank the candidates. It is often the case that eventual winners have been in the applicant pool in prior years before finally prevailing.

If you have competed in the past, do not give up. APPLY next year! For information, visit the college website or contact Jim Briggs (jbriggs@uh.edu) or Donna Stokes (dstokes@uh.edu).

Our current winners join a long line of faculty who have been recognized by their students and peers for excellence in teaching. Prior winners are listed on the Recognition and Awards webpage.