The University of Texas System Board of Regents today (July 11) awarded six faculty members at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston with the board's highest honor in recognition of their performance in the classroom and their dedication to innovation and advancing excellence.

The Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Awards recognize faculty members at UT System institutions who have demonstrated extraordinary performance and innovation in the classroom and laboratory. The awards are among the largest in the nation, and given the depth and breadth of talent across the UT System, this awards program is also one of the nation’s most competitive.

“We are extremely proud of these members of our faculty,” said Dr. Cary Cooper, UTMB’s interim provost. “They exemplify the excellence that we are striving for in everything we do, but especially in making sure we provide the highest quality learning experience for our students.”

UTMB’s award recipients are Christine Baker, professor in the department of Physical Therapy in the School of Health Professions; Dr. Michael Boyars, professor and senior associate program director for Internal Medicine Residency Program and director of Inpatient Services for the department of Internal Medicine; Dr. Richard Jennings, professor and program director for the Aerospace Medicine Residency Program in the department of Preventive Medicine and Community Health; Suzanne  Peloquin, professor in the department of Occupational Therapy in the School of Health Professions; Dr. Kirk Smith, Arnold P. Gold Associate Professor of Medicine in the department of Internal Medicine and Dr. Karen Szauter, professor and medical director of the Standardized Patient Program, Internal Medicine, Office of Educational Development.

"These awards demonstrate the board’s commitment to recognize outstanding faculty members for their exceptional performance and innovation in the classroom,” regents’ chairman Gene Powell said. “The board is very pleased to offer these teaching excellence awards for the first time to faculty members at our outstanding comprehensive academic health science centers.”

This is the first year the Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Awards have been conferred to faculty at UT System’s six health institutions. Each of these faculty members will receive a $25,000 award. A dedicated website showcasing all 40 UT health science centers award winners may be viewed online.

“We have a mandate to provide an education of the first class, and I firmly believe the efforts of these outstanding faculty members significantly enhance the educational experience for our students and, just as importantly, sharpen the competitive edge of our science and technology activities,” Chancellor Francisco G. Cigarroa said. “Furthermore, recognizing teaching excellence is aligned with the Framework for Advancing Excellence throughout The University of Texas System.”

Faculty members undergo a series of rigorous evaluations by students, peer faculty and external reviewers. The review panels consider a range of activities and criteria in their evaluations of a candidate’s teaching performance, including classroom expertise, curricula quality, innovative course development and student learning outcomes.

Established by the Board of Regents in 2008, the Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Awards complement a wide range of system wide efforts that underscore the Board of Regents’ commitment to ensuring the UT System is a place of intellectual exploration and discovery, educational excellence and unparalleled opportunity.