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Signature Course Connects New Students with Award-Winning Faculty

Since 2008, the School of Undergraduate Studies has recruited distinguished professors from all colleges and schools to teach the Signature Course, a rigorous interdisciplinary course taken during students’ first year on campus. Part of the 42-hour core curriculum required for every UT degree, these courses put new students in front of award-winning professors who help them adjust to college-level academics and explore new interests.

Every semester in classrooms across campus, Signature Course professors demonstrate a commitment to undergraduate education and interdisciplinary learning, as well as a passion for nurturing the university’s newest students. Their exceptional work and innovative approaches earn them awards and recognition, along with the gratitude of each year’s incoming class.

2013 Outstanding Teaching Award Winners

This year, eight Signature Course professors are among the 26 UT Austin faculty members to receive the prestigious Regent’s Outstanding Teaching Award from the University of Texas System Board of Regents.

  • Jay L. Banner: UGS 303 Sustaining a Planet
  • Amit Bhasin: UGS 302 Materials Science & Technology
  • Steven R. Biegalski: UGS 303 How Things Work
  • Henry A. Dietz: UGS 302 Poverty/Inequality in Latin America
  • Matt Fajkus: UGS 303 Skyscrapers and Polar Bears: Perspectives on Sustainable Design
  • Toyin Falola: UGS 302 Africa in Films: History and Knowledge
  • James A. Karboski: UGS 302 Contemporary Topics in Pharmacy-Based Healthcare
  • Elizabeth C. Pomeroy: UGS 302 Separating Fact from Fiction in Mental Illness through Film and Literature

This award recognizes professors who demonstrated extraordinary classroom performance and innovation in undergraduate instruction. Learn more about the Regent’s Outstanding Teaching Award.

Participants in the Academy of Distinguished Teachers

Faculty from UT’s Academy of Distinguished Teachers have been teaching Signature Courses since they were first offered during the 2008-2009 school year. To date, over 30 academy members have taught Signature Courses and all but five of those have taught courses multiple semesters. Eight members have taught Signature Courses every year since the program’s inception.

This year, the following 13 academy members are teaching Signature Courses.

  • Jay L. Banner: UGS 303 Sustaining a Planet
  • J. Davis: UGS 302 Really Bad Bugs
  • Sheldon Ekland-Olson: UGS 303 Life and Death Decisions
  • Lori K. Holleran: UGS 302 Young People and Drugs
  • Ernest N. Kaulbach: UGS 302 English Words & Their Origins
  • Carol H. Mackay: TC 302 Emerging Selves (Plan II Signature Course)
  • Susan E. Marshall: UGS 302 Conspiracy Theory
  • William C. Powers: UGS 302 What Makes World Intelligible
  • Elizabeth Richmond-Garza: UGS 303 Modernity and Art of Uncanny
  • Stanley J. Roux Jr.: UGS 302 Hidden Treasures of Plants
  • Lawrence W. Speck: UGS 303 Creative Problem Solving
  • Michael P. Starbird: UGS 303 Elements of Effective Thinking
  • Paul B. Woodruff: UGS 303 Discovery of Freedom

The Academy of Distinguished Teachers consists of 5% of the university’s tenured faculty. Membership rewards those who have demonstrated a commitment to improving the quality and depth of undergraduate teaching. Learn more about UT’s Academy of Distinguished Teachers.

Professor Starbird and Professor Davis are also members of the University of Texas System’s Academy of Distinguished Teachers.