The University of Texas System Board of Regents recognized a couple of faculty members at The University of Texas at El Paso with the highly prestigious 2020 Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award (ROTA) for their extraordinary classroom performance and innovative instruction.
This year’s UTEP recipients include Jessica Slade, Ph.D., assistant professor of instruction, teacher education; and Chuan (River) Xiao, Ph.D., associate professor of biochemistry.
“We are extremely proud of Dr. Xiao and Dr. Slade and the impact they have on our students,” said John Wiebe, Ph.D., provost and vice president for academic affairs at UTEP. “They are outstanding examples of the many champions of student success at UTEP – faculty who work every day to foster student development and help students pursue their highest aspirations.”
The ROTA was established in 2008 to recognize faculty from the UT System’s eight academic and six health institutions for their extraordinary classroom performance and innovation. It stands as one of the nation’s largest awards programs that honors teachers in higher education and reinforces the Board of Regents’ commitment to ensuring that UT institutions are places of intellectual exploration and discovery, educational excellence and unparalleled opportunity.
Slade is a proud UTEP alumna, earning her master’s degree in curriculum and instruction with a concentration in early childhood education and a doctorate in teaching, learning and culture from the University. Her desire to broadly impact the lives of young children and continue her doctoral work exploring early childhood teachers’ beliefs and their practices in the classroom led her to pursue college-level teaching. Slade has helped train undergraduate teacher candidates and master teachers in early childhood education at UTEP since 2014.
“My favorite part about teaching at UTEP is working with the students,” Slade said. “I have learned so much about my profession and myself through my interactions with them. I have found such an overwhelming sense of acceptance with my students. They have truly opened their minds to what I have to say, and I feel fortunate to have the opportunities to learn from them.”
Xiao has been a faculty member at UTEP since 2008. He credits his passion for teaching to a plethora of great teachers in his life who inspired him to follow in their footsteps. The day-to-day interactions with his students and watching them succeed are what he points to as the most rewarding aspects of his career. Xiao strongly believes that it is the duty of a teacher to help maximize their students’ potential.
“The goal of a college teacher is to help students know how to learn instead of knowledge itself,” Xiao said. “After college education, the students should have the skills to survive and be successful in the society.”
For over a decade, the Board of Regents has awarded more than $20 million to over 750 outstanding UT educators. Including Slade and Xiao, 74 UTEP faculty members have received this award.
“These awards demonstrate the Board’s appreciation for exceptional educators at each of the 14 UT institutions,” Board of Regents Chairman Kevin P. Eltife said. “Their dedication to teaching excellence and student success is instrumental to achieving our education, research and health care missions.”
Nominees undergo a series of rigorous evaluations by students, peer faculty and external reviewers who consider a range of activities and criteria in their evaluations of a candidate’s teaching performance, including classroom expertise, curricula quality, innovative course development and student learning outcomes.
“Great teachers inspire, motivate and challenge their students,” UT System Chancellor James B. Milliken said. “We honor these outstanding educators for their service to Texas and Texans.”