Texas A&M chemist Dr. Lawrence S. Brown is one of two university faculty members who have been appointed to 2019 University Professorships in Undergraduate Teaching Excellence (UPUTE) at Texas A&M University.
Brown, an instructional professor in the Department of Chemistry, will hold the Eppright Professorship in Undergraduate Teaching Excellence, a three-year appointment that carries an annual salary supplement of $5,000 provided by the university and an annual $5,000 discretionary income to support his teaching program and related professional development.
Brown and his fellow UPUTE honoree, Texas A&M philosophy and humanities professor and 2019-2022 Thaman Professor Stephen H. Daniel, were formally recognized during the May 2 plenary breakfast at the 2019 Transformational Teaching and Learning Conference, held at the Texas A&M Hotel and Conference Center.
The prestigious UPUTE awards are reserved for the university’s most distinguished teachers of undergraduates — faculty who have exhibited uncommon excellence and devotion to the education of undergraduate students at Texas A&M. The professorships are made possible through generous endowments by George and Irma Eppright and Arthur J. and Wilhelmina Doré Thaman.
“Texas A&M University strives to meet our unique mission for Texas by supporting and recognizing our faculty’s outstanding efforts in teaching, research and service,” said Dr. Carol A. Fierke, provost and executive vice president. “These University Professorships acknowledge the particular expertise these faculty hold in working with our undergraduate students, as they become the future productive citizens of Texas and beyond.”
Brown joined the Texas A&M Chemistry faculty in 1988 after earning his Ph.D. in chemistry from Princeton University in 1986. Since 1994, his efforts have been focused on undergraduate education, an area in which he has been recognized with numerous previous awards for teaching, including Texas A&M Association of Former Students Distinguished Achievement Awards in Teaching at both the college (1998) and university (2000) levels. In 2013, Brown was honored as a Presidential Professor for Teaching Excellence, a perpetual title representing Texas A&M’s highest honor for classroom prowess.
Universally lauded as an extraordinarily gifted teacher and an early adopter of both innovative teaching methods and delivery, Brown has been involved in many innovative teaching activities during his Texas A&M career, most notably the Foundation Coalition project that reshaped Texas A&M’s undergraduate engineering curriculum. In addition, he was among the first people on campus to use electronic homework, web-based materials, and in-class clicker response systems, in addition to televised lectures.
Apart from having student evaluations that consistently rank among the highest department-wide, Brown is best known for his work to develop and teach CHEM 107 (General Chemistry for Engineering Students). Leading a team of faculty from Texas A&M Chemistry and the College of Engineering in the mid-1990s, he worked to identify course objectives and then build a suitable curriculum around those goals. The resulting chemistry course he developed for engineering majors has been adopted by many other top universities. In addition, the textbook he co-wrote in 2006, “Chemistry for Engineering Students,” is now in its fourth edition and has become the market leader among engineering chemistry classes nationwide, further establishing the reputation of both Brown and Texas A&M Univeristy in the teaching of engineering students.
“Larry Brown has been widely acknowledged as one of the finest teachers in our department for nearly 30 years now,” said Dr. Simon W. North, professor and head of Texas A&M Chemistry. “In addition to being a gifted classroom teacher, he is also well versed in current educational research, allowing him to bring a deliberate and rational approach to his teaching. But more than anything else, he is a passionate and dedicated teacher.”
During the past quarter century, Brown has taught roughly 20,000 students in CHEM 107 while also providing materials and advice to help other faculty who teach the course within the department, including a number of assistant professors as well as many academic professional track (APT) faculty. In addition to chemistry for engineers, he also regularly teaches physical chemistry, primarily in the CHEM 325/326 laboratory program, which he also currently coordinates. Beyond his own classroom instruction — which includes CHEM 322, the physical chemistry lecture course taken by all chemical engineering students — Brown is responsible for supervising and mentoring a number of graduate students as they develop their own teaching skills.
“By inspiring the kind of loyalty and respect his students show for him, he is able to motivate them to achieve things they otherwise could not,” North added. “Through his unique combination of intellect, effort, skill and personality, Dr. Brown inspires his students to excel and provides them with the help they need to do so. And that combined effect is what makes him such an outstanding teacher.”
Brown served three years as a program officer for education and interdisciplinary research in the Physics Division of the National Science Foundation, expanding the division’s involvement in the funding of physics education research and also representing it in the Mathematics and Physical Sciences (MPS) Education Working Group and other education-focused activities. He has also been a participant in and organizer of symposia on aspects of chemical education at national meetings of the American Chemical Society.
To learn more about Brown’s science teaching, research and service activities, visit his website.
For additional information on University Professorships for Undergraduate Teaching, go to the Dean of Faculties website.