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Kribs, Griffith receive 2016 UT Regents' Teaching Awards

Ashley Griffith and Christopher Kribs
Ashley Griffith, left, and Christopher Kribs

Three University of Texas at Arlington faculty members are among University of Texas System educators honored with 2016 Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Awards for excellence in the classroom. Two of the three are from the College of Science.

The 2016 UTA honorees are:

• Ashley Griffith, assistant professor of earth and environmental sciences.

• Christopher Kribs, professor of mathematics and curriculum and instruction.

• James Campbell Quick, the John and Judy Goolsby-Jacqualyn A. Fouse Endowed Chair in the College of Business’ Department of Management.

UTA President Vistasp M. Karbhari said this year’s winners exemplify the highest level of excellence in teaching and demonstrate a commitment to the success of students and to the community. Honorees are nominated based on recommendations from department chairs, deans and committees.

“UTA’s culture of excellence generates a very high level of professional commitment,” Karbhari said. “Our faculty members are dedicated to inspiring intellectual passion among their students and guiding them to increasing levels of inquiry, achievement and community involvement. The three honorees are outstanding figures in their areas of expertise, and we are honored to call them Mavericks.”

Paul L. Foster, chairman of the UT System Board of Regents, said: “UT System educators provide invaluable mentorship and deliver high-quality instruction and innovation while enhancing the minds of the nation’s next leaders. Their deep commitment to outstanding education ensures student success across the System. The Board of Regents is honored to recognize our dedicated faculty members through the ROTA program.”

State Rep. Rodney Anderson, R-Grand Prairie and a UTA business alumnus, congratulated the faculty members and said, “These awards celebrate one of the best parts of a student’s college experience — the opportunity to engage with professors who are passionate about teaching and who are celebrated researchers in their respective fields. UTA faculty members rival any, and they are one of the primary reasons students are able to achieve their dreams.”

The Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Awards were established in 2008 and come with a monetary award of $25,000. They are given to faculty members at UT System academic institutions who demonstrate extraordinary classroom performance and innovation at the undergraduate level. The 2016 winners will be honored August 24 in Austin.

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.

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.

Nomination letters for Griffith and Kribs summarized their many achievements:

W. Ashley Griffith joined the College of Science in 2013 and has rapidly become known for his transformational teaching methods, introducing highly complex software environments to undergraduates in the geosciences to improve learning outcomes. Griffith won a 2014 National Science Foundation Early Career Development Program, or CAREER, grant to study how rock structures react to events such as earthquakes, meteor impacts and explosions.

Griffith has partnered with Teach for America to create the TFA Rock Corps, which brings non-geoscience K-12 educators into his laboratory to conduct research and develop geophysical curriculum and has participated in a statewide working group of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to establish learning outcomes for geology courses. He maintains a vigorous research agenda with grants from the National Science Foundation, Department of Defense and the American Chemical Society.

Christopher Kribs joined the UTA College of Education and College of Science in 2003 and has been named a Marie Curie Fellow by the University of Lyon and a Fulbright Scholar at the Universidad de Colima in Mexico. Today, Kribs successfully bridges science and education, with joint professorial appointments in both mathematics and curriculum and instruction. He has been recognized for his work teaching both pre-service and practicing mathematics teachers, as well as his mentoring of student researchers in mathematical biology.

Among other achievements, Kribs developed a series of 10 innovative mathematics education courses that blend mathematics and pedagogy. As a scientist, he has directed small groups of undergraduates doing research on his National Science Foundation-supported disease-modeling project for Chagas disease, a chronic and ultimately fatal illness affecting more than 10 million people throughout the Americas.

The College of Science now has 12 recipients of the UT System Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award, representing all six of the College’s departments. In addition to Kribs and Griffith, they include: Kevin Schug (2014); Seiichiro Tanizaki (2013); Nilakshi Veerabathina (2012); Lee Ann Frederick (2011); James Epperson (2010); Lauri Jensen-Campbell (2010); Theresa Jorgensen (2010); Barbara Shipman (2010); Minerva Cordero (2009); and Jimmy Rogers (2009). Former faculty member Monica Ramirez Basco was a UTA assistant professor of psychology when she received the award in 2011.

The 2016 UTA Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Awards honorees each demonstrates UTA’s commitment to providing students access and excellence to a world-class education as called for by the University’s Strategic Plan 2020: Bold Solutions | Global Impact.