Texas A&M Presidential Professor for Teaching Excellence Award Recipients Announced

Dr. Lawrence S. Brown of the College of Science and Dr. Helen Reed of the Dwight Look College of Engineering have been named recipients of the 2013 Presidential Professor for Teaching Excellence Award, the most prestigious faculty honor bestowed by Texas A&M University.

Announcement of the 2013 recipients of the award, which includes a $25,000 stipend to each winner and the lifetime title of “Presidential Professor for Teaching Excellence,” was made by Texas A&M President R. Bowen Loftin.

“Dr. Brown and Dr. Reed personify the teaching qualities that we value so highly at Texas A&M — caring for students, being dedicated and innovative and being leaders in their fields,” Loftin said. “They join a growing number of distinguished faculty who have had bestowed on them this special designation — the university’s highest form of recognition for teaching excellence.”

The Presidential Professor for Teaching Excellence Award was established in 2003 to underscore the importance of teaching at a major research university, Loftin noted.

The two professors selected for the awards this year will be formally introduced at the university’s spring commencement ceremonies at which their respective colleges will award degrees.

Reed, professor in the Department of Aerospace Engineering, joined the Texas A&M faculty in 2004 and served as department head for four years before returning to teaching and research on a full-time basis.

One of her former students, who studied under her at another university before following her to Texas A&M, wrote in support of her nomination: “I could not imagine pursuing graduate studies under any other professor. She inspires her students to undertake great endeavors, provides endless optimism and encouragement, and empowers undergrads and grads alike to achieve their every goal.”

Widely regarded as an expert in hypersonics, energy efficient aircraft and small satellite design, Reed has led research projects totaling millions of dollars and is a member of the National Research Council’s Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board. She has received numerous professional awards and honors.

With teaching and mentoring students as top priorities, Reed has directed 16 doctoral students, 31 master’s degree students and more than 1,000 undergraduate students during her career.

Colleagues say employers eagerly seek out her students, who are known for being well prepared, with extensive hands-on experience in a demanding profession. One example is the AggieSat Lab Satellite that Reed directs. This includes a partnership with NASA Johnson Space Center and the University of Texas to promote space engineering education and develop new technologies used in space exploration. Through this program, her students designed, launched and operated Texas A&M’s first satellite in 2009, with another mission planned for next year.

Reed earned an A.B. degree in mathematics from Goucher College, and an M.S. and Ph.D. in engineering mechanics from Virginia Tech.

Brown, instructional assistant professor of chemistry, has been a member of the Texas A&M faculty since 1988. Colleagues describe him as an extraordinarily gifted teacher and early adopter of both innovative teaching methods and delivery, including online homework assignments and televised lectures, which debuted on local cable channels and now are available worldwide on iTunesU. In addition, his expertise in educational practices helped reshape the freshman engineering curriculum at Texas A&M and make it a national model.

Three of his students wrote in support of his nomination: “If the world of chemistry were to be described as a galaxy, then Dr. Larry Brown would definitely be the North Star. His effervescent teaching style, open-door policy, beaming personality and genuine love for teaching certainly make him shine brightly in the eyes of those who are fortunate enough to be enrolled in his class.”

A colleague noted that, “Through his unique combination of intellect, effort, skill and personality, Dr. Brown not only inspires students to excel, but also provides them with the help they need to do so.”

He was involved in the Foundation Coalition project that restructured Texas A&M’s undergraduate engineering curriculum. The chemistry course he developed for engineering majors has been adopted by many other top universities, and the textbook he wrote has become a market leader for such courses.

Brown earned a B.S. degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic University and an M.A. and Ph.D. from Princeton University, all in chemistry. Since coming to Texas A&M, he has received several college- and university-level awards for teaching.

Nominations for the Presidential Professor awards are made by students, faculty members and deans in each of the university’s colleges and schools. Faculty Senate representatives review the nominations submitted by the colleges and schools and narrow the list that is sent to the president for the final selections.

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