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Rewarding Ethics and Leadership

The crowd claps as Meme accepts the awardMinette “Meme” Drumwright, an associate professor of advertising and public relations, was awarded the 2016 Cale McDowell Award for Innovation in Undergraduate Studies for her promotion of ethics and leadership in undergraduate education at The University of Texas at Austin.

Karin Wilkins, professor of media studies, director of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, and chair of the Faculty Panel for the Global Studies Bridging Disciplines Program (BDP) wrote in her nomination letter: “Meme’s extraordinary work related to ethics and leadership has been essential in building these critical competencies in our students. Her research interests in promoting ethical approaches to advertising and marketing strengthen her ability to innovate curriculum.”

Drumwright served on the task force that created the Bridging Disciplines Programs (BDPs) and has chaired or co-chaired the Faculty Panel for the Ethics & Leadership BDP since the program was created in 2002. She has also mentored 31 BDP students in their Connecting Experiences, the research project, internship, or creative project requirement of the BDPs. In the three years she served as the chair of the EL Flag Committee, the number of students in courses with an emphasis on ethics and leadership increased by more than 10,000.

Award History & Selection Process

Meme with Dean Brent IversonThe purpose of the Cale McDowell Award is to encourage research or innovation that improves the university’s core curriculum. The award may be given to a deserving staff member or administrator in the School of Undergraduate Studies, or to any student, faculty, or staff member who improves the undergraduate experience at the university. The recipient of the award receives a $1,000 honorarium. The award was established in February 2010 with gifts from donors, including UGS Inaugural Dean Paul Woodruff, President William Powers, Jr., and other distinguished members of the university community.

Past Winners

2015: Patty Micks, director of the First-year Experience Office in the School of Undergraduate Studies and Lori Holleran Steiker, associate professor in the School of Social Work, for their efforts to improve the experience of first-year students and the undergraduate curriculum.
2014: Jen Morgan, senior program coordinator in the School of Undergraduate Studies, for her work to implement state-mandated changes to the core curriculum across the university.
2013: Jeanette Herman, assistant dean for academic initiatives, for core curriculum innovation.
2012: Professors Barbara Brown Wilson and Matthew Fajkus, for their work creating an innovative Signature Course.
2011: Shelby Stanfield, associate vice president for student affairs and registrar, for his work as a key participant in UT Austin’s effort to reform its undergraduate core curriculum and focus new resources on undergraduate education.


Each year, a committee comprising faculty, students, and staff chooses the McDowell Award recipient from candidates nominated by the campus community. This year’s committee included

About Cale McDowell

Cale McDowellThe award honors Cale McDowell (B.B.A. ’05, M.P.A. ’06, J.D. ’09), one of the founders of the School of Undergraduate Studies and former deputy to the dean. During his time at the university, McDowell served as vice chair (‘04-‘05) and chair (‘05-‘06) of the Senate of College Councils and was appointed by President Larry Faulkner in 2004 to the Task Force on Curricular Reform. McDowell is co-author of the report of the Task Force and the Faculty Council motion adopting many of its recommendations.

During the early months of Bill Powers’s tenure as president of the university, McDowell served as aide to the president. In that role, he worked with college deans and the Faculty Council on efforts to retool the university’s new core curriculum. Upon Paul Woodruff’s September 2006 appointment as inaugural dean of Undergraduate Studies, McDowell joined the dean’s senior staff. His work with faculty committees, the university’s colleges and schools, and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board led to the implementation of the new core curriculum for all undergraduate students and the creation of the School of Undergraduate Studies. He now serves on this school’s advisory council.