Excellence in Teaching is bestowed by the Office of the Chancellor and the Teaching Council of the Faculty Senate to honor outstanding work in the classroom.
Mari Beth Coleman
Students don’t sign up for Mari Beth Coleman’s class to get an easy A. The associate professor of special education warns her students on the first day that it will be difficult. But she is committed to ensuring that her students understand the material. Many of Coleman’s students have noted that her passion for special education is exceptional and that she wants students to leave her class confident in their future success. Coleman, who also serves as co-director of undergraduate studies in special education, worked for 13 years as a special education teacher before completing her PhD and coming to UT. Reviewers say she is able to bring her passion and commitment to preparing her students for careers in the special education field.
Chih-Long Hu, Sandra G. Powell Endowed Professor of Piano, is an internationally recognized concert pianist, but it’s a toss-up where his greater talent lies—in playing piano or teaching his students. “He has a rare combination of three factors: an exceptional proficiency in his field, a deep understanding of pedagogy, and a delightful demeanor that is both demanding and supportive,” a reviewer noted. Hu pushes students to do their best, feel passion for their art, and develop the confidence needed for excellent performance. He uses metaphors and history lessons to draw out the emotions that enhance artistic work. While urging his students to communicate through music, his teaching encompasses everything from honing technical skills to addressing an aspiring concert pianist’s performance anxiety. “Watching Professor Hu with his students was inspiring and humbling,” another reviewer wrote. “They obviously adore him, paid rapt attention, and hung on all his constructive criticism.”
Lauren Moret is an assistant professor of qualitative research methodology in the College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences. Reviewers and students say Moret teaches with passion and enthusiasm, encouraging her students to take risks and ask questions to get comfortable with the material. She uses interactive games, independent projects, and strategies based in the creative arts to capture her students’ attention and help them understand difficult material. A former middle and high school teacher, Moret strives to make the most out of every classroom minute by maintaining a superior level of engagement so there’s no time for students to check out. After attending one of Moret’s educational psychology and counseling classes, one reviewer noted simply, “Wow . . . I want to take the class.”
When students walk into Senior Lecturer Lisa Parker’s Spanish class, she greets them with their Spanish names and converses with them in Spanish. She might show Spanish news clips or lead a discussion about Spanish-speaking countries and cultures. Students say Parker’s classes are so incredibly engaging and fun that they don’t ever want to miss one. “There was no time for students to be distracted, check their phones, or do anything other than converse with their team members and Parker,” a reviewer noted. Students say Parker—who is also the assistant director of the Language and World Business program—is tough but supportive and willing to go out of her way to help them achieve their goals. “She is dynamic and thoughtful,” another reviewer noted. “Her philosophy is of a nurturing teacher, striving to lessen anxiety and fully immerse her students in learning a foreign language.”