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Tanizaki recieves UT Regents teaching excellence award
     
Seiichiro Tanizaki, lecturer in chemistry and biochemistry, is one of nine UT Arlington faculty members to receive a prestigious award for teaching excellence from the UT System Board of Regents.

In all, 63 educators from across the UT System were recognized this year. The honors come with a $25,000 cash award and recognize faculty members at UT System academic institutions who demonstrate extraordinary classroom performance and innovation at the undergraduate level. The professors were recognized August 21 during a ceremony in Austin.

"I am very honored to be selected for this award and appreciate the support of the Chemistry Department and the College of Science," Tanizaki said. "I am also thankful for the wonderful students here at UTA - they inspire me. This is very rewarding. Though teaching is hard work, it is also incredibly engaging and exciting. I learn something new about chemistry and about teaching every semester. Receiving this award encourages me to continue developing my teaching skills."

The honor is the second major award for Tanizaki in two years for his work in the classroom. In 2012, he received the UT Arlington Provost's Award for Excellence in Teaching. In 2007, he was recognized as Favorite Faculty Member by Freshman Leaders on Campus (FLOC), a campus-wide organization.

Tanizaki came to UT Arlington in 2006 as a visiting instructor. He became a full-time lecturer in 2007, and also served as an undergraduate advisor from 2007-11. He earned a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Ehime University in Japan, a B.A. in Mathematics/Chemistry from the University of Maine and a Ph.D. in Computational Chemistry from Brandeis University in Massachusetts.
He said his goal is to put students at ease and help them to realize that chemistry is something they have the ability to learn.

"Although I teach different chemistry courses that require me to set different learning goals and to use different teaching methods, the underlying teaching philosophy in all my courses is my belief that my students have the ability to succeed in introductory chemistry and that it is my job to help them do so," he said. "It sounds simple, and it is, really. The execution of it, however, is often quite complicated.

"During my teaching career, I have come to realize that the biggest challenges in teaching chemistry are student fear of the subject and a lack of student preparedness. These two often go hand-in-hand and feed one another. The less prepared a student is, the more she fears the subject; the more frightened a student is about a subject, the less time and effort he wants (or is able) to devote to preparation. My job as their instructor is to help them get beyond their chemistry anxiety and to learn - to learn chemistry, for sure, but also to learn how to study, to learn how to challenge themselves, and to learn that they can succeed."

Rasika Dias, professor and chair of the UT Arlington Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, said Tanizaki does countless things to help students, noting that among many other things, Tanizaki serves as site director for the Welch Summer Scholars Program, which provides college level research experience for talented high school students from Texas.

"We were absolutely thrilled to hear that Dr. Tanizaki won the UT System Board of Regents teaching excellence award. He is an outstanding colleague and a superb teacher," Dias said. "He has taught multiple sections of very demanding introductory chemistry courses since 2006 and has done an unquestionably high quality job. He also developed our first online chemistry course for nursing-intended students at UTA. The Board of Regents could not have picked a better person to honor with this award."

UT Arlington President Vistasp Karbhari said the awards underscore the depth and wealth of talent and commitment to excellence within the University's faculty.

"A great University has great teachers, and we are proud to have

 
Seiichiro Tanizaki received the UT Arlington Provost's Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2012.

some of the very best," Karbhari said. "Our faculty members serve one of the nation's most diverse student bodies, and they are committed to ensuring student success not just for those who enter UT Arlington at the top of their high school class, but rather for all who are committed to a better tomorrow for themselves and their families."

Other UT Arlington honorees include: Josephine Caldwell-Ryan, adjunct assistant professor of sociology and anthropology; Rebecca Deen, chair and associate professor of political science; Susanna Khavul, associate professor of management; Frank Lewis, professor of electrical engineering and the Moncrief-O'Donnell Endowed Chair, UT Arlington Research Institute; Beth Mancini, professor of nursing and associate dean for undergraduate studies for the College of Nursing; Dan Popa, associate professor of electrical engineering; Peggy Semingson, assistant professor of curriculum and instruction; and Yvette Weatherton, senior lecturer, civil engineering.

The awards are in their fifth year. Honorees were selected based on recommendations from department chairs, deans and committees. A complete list of winners and their institutions is available on the UT System website here.

"Our faculty members are the heart and soul of our institutions, and they are the most critical factor in student success," said Gene Powell, chairman of the UT System Board of Regents. "The Board created the awards program because of our respect and appreciation for these outstanding teachers, and because we want to make sure our institutions continue to be places of educational excellence."

Award nominees must demonstrate a clear commitment to teaching and a sustained ability to deliver excellence to the undergraduate learning experience. Campus and external judges rigorously examined the candidates' teaching performance over three years.

"We are deeply grateful to the Regents for their ongoing commitment to honor our very best and most dedicated faculty," UT System Chancellor Francisco G. Cigarroa said. "These awards recognize the immeasurable impact teachers have on our students, who will shape the future of our communities across Texas and the nation."

Additionally, students, peer faculty and external reviewers considered a range of activities and criteria, including classroom expertise, quality of curriculum, innovative course development and student learning outcomes. A teaching portfolio was required to demonstrate pedagogical innovation, continuous improvement of course materials, overall teacher training experience and a statement of teaching philosophy and objectives.

Posted August 28, 2013

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