UT Regents Recognize 5 UTEP Faculty as Best in System

The University of Texas System Board of Regents has awarded five UTEP faculty members the highest honor the group bestows: the Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award.

The board honored the system’s top teachers for their inventiveness and dedication in the classroom during a ceremony Aug. 20 in Austin.

The honorees from The University of Texas at El Paso are: Ivonne Santiago, Ph.D., clinical professor of civil engineering; Gita Upreti, Ph.D., assistant professor of special education; Jose Villalobos, Ph.D., assistant professor of political science; Amy Wagler, Ph.D., assistant professor of statistics; and Brian Yothers, Ph.D., associate professor of English. Each will receive $25,000.

“We are proud of the latest group of talented UTEP faculty to be recognized by the Board of Regents for their superior work,” said University President Diana Natalicio. “These awards reflect the high quality of instruction offered at this institution and our faculty’s dedication to excellence and student success. We thank the UT System Board of Regents for their continuing commitment to honor our best teachers, and we celebrate the achievements of these dedicated faculty members. I congratulate all of them.”

This year’s honorees bring the total number of UTEP faculty to receive this recognition to 48. The award was created in 2008 and first bestowed the next year to acknowledge faculty members who delivered the highest quality work as teachers, mentors and motivators. The prestigious awards are among the biggest financial teaching awards programs in the country.

“Once again, UTEP faculty have been honored, through a rigorous and exceptionally competitive process, with the system’s highest award and join a distinguished cadre of influential individuals,” said UTEP Provost Junius Gonzales. He referenced 19th century American historian Henry Brooks Adams who said teachers affect eternity. “We know their positive influence on students can be unending.”

Recipients are selected from the system’s 15 academic and health campuses. Nominees are evaluated on a range of criteria to include classroom expertise, curricula quality, innovative course development and student learning outcomes. Peers, students and institutional leaders nominate candidates.

“We are proud that these awards support and promote a culture of teaching excellence, especially in undergraduate programs, at all our campuses systemwide,” said Regents Vice Chairman Steven Hicks, chair of the board’s Academic Affairs Committee. “The teachers we are honoring are truly the best of the best.”