Dr. Chad Richardson, professor in the Department of Sociology at The University Texas-Pan American, was honored Nov. 6 with The University of Texas System's 2007 Chancellor's Award for Outstanding Teaching.
Richardson, who has been at the University since 1977, directs the Borderlife Research Project at the University and also serves as the acting sociology department chair in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences.
"Dr. Richardson is the exemplar of teaching," said Dr. Paul Sale, UTPA provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, who presented the award along with a check for $3,000 from the UT System Chancellor's Council.
Richardson, who obtained his Ph.D. in sociology from The University of Texas at Austin, founded the Borderlife Research Project at UTPA in 1982 to train students to conduct research related to the distinct South Texas social and cultural environment. Since then, his students have conducted more than 10,000 interviews among 25 distinct social or cultural groups on both sides of the border resulting in more than 6,000 ethnographic accounts of the lives of individual people as told by them. The economic value of the Borderlife archive has been appraised in recent years at $2 million.
"I am delighted to have been awarded this honor, but more than anything because of the recognition it brings to our students," said Richardson, who indicated more than 500 students contributed to his two books, both published by the University of Texas Press.
"Batos, Bollillos, Pochos and Pelados," was published in 1999 and his latest book, "On the Edge of the Law: Culture, Labor and Deviance on the South Texas Border, " co-authored with Dr. Rosalva Resendiz, a UTPA assistant professor of criminal justice, was just published in 2007. Richardson said 10 UTPA graduate students were co-authors on most of the chapters in the two books.
"It is the quality of material that the students have produced that made the two books possible. I am also gratified because this recognition shows that faculty do not have to sacrifice the quality of teaching to do research," said Richardson, who has just signed a contract with the University of Texas Press for a third book on the informal and underground economy of the South Texas border. That book will be co-authored with Dr. Michael Pisani of Central Michigan University and Dr. J. Michael Patrick of New Mexico State University.
"Through his books, written with students and junior faculty, Richardson provides an accurate understanding of the beauties and complexities of life on the Rio Grande Border," said Dr. Van Reidhead, dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. "He has also shown us what undergraduate students, as learner researchers, can accomplish."
Richardson was also nominated by UTPA for this year's Minnie Stevens Piper Foundation Professor Program Award, which honors professors across the state each academic year for their dedication to the teaching profession and for their outstanding academic, scientific and scholarly achievement. In response to that nomination, Richardson said his goal in teaching has always been to help students discover that they can learn, understand and even create knowledge.
"Helping students learn how to learn and helping them see that learning is enjoyable has always been stimulating," he said.
During his tenure at UTPA, Richardson also founded and formerly directed the Center for International Studies and has taught, lectured and served as a consultant to numerous national and local community groups as well as corporations. In 2004 he was recognized in "What the Best College Teachers Do," a national study conducted by author Ken Bain at the Center for Teaching Excellence at New York University.
More recently, Richardson and UTPA colleagues Dr. Jose Pagan and Dr. Dejun Su were awarded a $1 million, three-year federal grant from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality to conduct research on the use of health care in Mexico by Valley residents and how federal policy decisions will affect the ability of Valley residents to continue to do so.
The teaching award was established by the UT System Chancellor's Council to recognize excellence in undergraduate teaching and is given each academic year to selected faculty at the UT System's nine general academic institutions.