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Faculty Excellence: A tradition at UTPA
By Amanda Perez, intern
956-381-2741
Posted: 05/07/2010
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The University of Texas-Pan American recognized faculty members who demonstrate their dedication to student success with their exceptional contributions at the second annual Faculty Excellence Awards Ceremony May 7.

“It is really an honor to celebrate what our faculty has accomplished here at the university,” said Dr. Robert S. Nelsen, president of UTPA. “It was hard selecting which people would receive this award because all have accomplished so much. It’s been a wild ride, but we have survived.”

At the ceremony, hosted by the Office of the Provost and the UTPA Foundation, three faculty members, Dr. Kristin Croyle, assistant dean and associate professor of psychology and anthropology in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences; Dr. Bimal Banik, President's Endowed Professor and professor of chemistry in the College of Science and Engineering; and Dr. Martha Tevis, professor and graduate advisor for the Department of Curriculum and Instruction in the College of Education, were recognized for their efforts in teaching, research and service endeavors, respectively, with a plaque and a check for $5,000.

“The Faculty Excellence awards program is to recognize and appreciate the many exceptional efforts of UTPA faculty members,” said Dr. Ala Qubbaj, vice-provost for Faculty Affairs. “This is an opportunity to share accomplishments widely and build community through the celebration of those contributions.”


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The University of Texas-Pan American honored faculty members who demonstrate their dedication to student success with their exceptional contributions at the second annual Faculty Excellence Awards Ceremony May 7. Pictured from left are: Dr. Jerry Polinard, Dr. Kristin Croyle, Dr. Martha Tevis, UTPA President Dr. Robert S. Nelsen and Dr. Bimal Banik.

Croyle is the 2010 recipient of the award for excellence in teaching. This award is designed to distinguish superior teachers who maintain high expectations of their students and ensure academic rigor in their courses. It also recognizes the contributions to the development and delivery of effective teaching and learning experiences.

Croyle has been a professor at UTPA for eight years and instructs students at the undergraduate and graduate levels. She teaches courses in Clinical Psychology, Tests and Measurements, Advanced Assessment and Individual Psychotherapy. Among her teaching, Croyle also supervises graduate students on their thesis research projects, performs research on various psychological topics and serves on faculty committees.

“Oh I love my job; teaching is so rewarding, much like clinical work,” Croyle said. “Both are oriented toward helping people improve or re-shifting their attention. They are very interpersonally interactive and focused on improvement.”

Banik is the recipient of the faculty award for excellence in research. His research, which is funded by the National Institute of Health and the National Cancer Institute, focuses on anti-cancer drugs and anti-bacterial agents.

This award is to recognize Banik for his success in research that is known at the local, regional, national and international levels. It distinguishes his research as having contributed to the expansion of knowledge, quality of life and encouragement in further research.

Banik says he likes to teach because he can create the future generation and recruit them for his research so that they can receive a solid education and be successful in the future.

He has received approximately $4.4 million in funding for extensive research and student research. Many of Banik’s students, while under his supervision, have been recruited to top schools and programs such as Baylor College of Medicine, Harvard University, and Stanford University and to companies like Bristol-Myers and Johnson and Johnson.

“I am very pleased that the committee has selected me for this award and that they realize my contributions to research,” said Banik. “I am thankful to my students and colleagues that have worked with me. It is because of their contributions that I am receiving this award.

Tevis has been at UTPA for 43 years and has committed much of her time to teaching and service for the university community and the community at large. She serves on dissertation committees and other faculty committees such as University Press Editorial Advisory Committee, advisory committee for UTPA Alumni Association and chairs the William E. Drake Lecture Series of the Educational Foundations Society. She is also a founding member of the honor’s council, first parliamentarian for the first staff senate and member of numerous national and international editorial boards.

“I like to be involved in things where you’re getting something done,” Tevis said. “Service has always been something I do and I have worked with many dedicated people here at UTPA and it has been a wonderful experience.”


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Dr. Olga Ramirez, center, received the Faculty Mentor Excellence Award May 7. Pictured with Ramirez are Dr. Ana Maria Rodriguez, interim provost and vice president for the Division of Academic Affairs, and Dr. Robert S. Nelsen, UTPA president.

Other faculty members recognized for their dedication were: the College of Health Sciences and Human Services, Dr. Shawn Saladin, teaching; Dr. Hector Diaz, research; and Dr. Sandra Hansmann, service. The College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Dr. Jessica Lavariega-Monforti, research; and Dr. Philip Gasquoine, service. The College of Education, Dr. Laura Saenz, teaching; and Dr. Sylvia Ramirez, research. The College of Business Administration, Dr. Arturo Vasquez, teaching; and Dr. Kai Koong, research. The College of Arts and Humanities, Dr. Danika Brown, service. Lastly, the College of Science and Engineering, Dr. Stephen Crown, teaching; and Dr. Rajiv Nambiar, service.

Also recognized for his work at UTPA is Dr. Jerry Polinard, professor of political science. He was awarded the 2010 Minnie Stevens Piper State-Level award and a check for $5,000. This award is given to only 15 of the best teachers in the state of Texas.

“Jerry Polinard is a long-time faculty member, someone who is dedicated to this university who has won this award and deserves this award,” said Nelsen. “We are very proud of what he has done for us in the state of Texas and for what he has done through the years for students and colleagues.”

Following the ceremony, the New Faculty Support Program end-of-year reception was held to honor faculty members who have dedicated their time to the university, Dr. Olga Ramirez, the recipient of the Mentor Excellence Award, and the newly selected faculty mentors.