Two faculty in the College of Science are among 10 Texas A&M University faculty selected as the inaugural recipients of the Provost Academic Professional Track (APT) Teaching Excellence Award, announced Friday (Feb. 14) by Executive Vice President Carol A. Fierke.
Chemist Holly C. Gaede and biologist Andrew Tag each received the new honor, created by the Texas A&M Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE) to encourage, recognize and reward faculty recipients for exceptional teaching practices that create meaningful learning experiences for students. The award is intended to illustrate both the impact of an effective teaching approach and the value of student-centered learning.
Gaede and Tag will be recognized along with their fellow Provost APT Faculty Teaching Excellence Scholars at a February 27 lunch ceremony on the Texas A&M campus. In addition to retaining the perpetual award title for life, each will receive a $5,000 cash stipend generously gifted by the Marie M. and James H. Galloway Foundation.
“The College of Science has well over 100 Academic Professional Track faculty members who excel daily in educating our students in the sciences,” said Dr. Mark J. Zoran, Texas A&M biologist and executive associate dean for faculty affairs in the College of Science. “Drs. Gaede and Tag are two outstanding instructional track teachers who both contribute to their departments and our college far beyond their classrooms. We could not be more appreciative of their excellent efforts or proud of their continuing accomplishments.”
Gaede is an instructional professor in the Texas A&M Department of Chemistry, where she also serves as an undergraduate advisor and chair of the Undergraduate Awards Committee. Since 2007, she has directed the department’s National Science Foundation-funded Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Program. Gaede joined the Texas A&M Chemistry faculty in 2005 as a senior lecturer after a previous six-year faculty stint at Ursinus College from 1995 to 2001. She also worked half-time along with Texas A&M physicist Robert Webb in the Texas A&M Division of Research’s newly created Office of Undergraduate Research. Gaede earned her Ph.D. in chemistry as an NSF Graduate Fellow at the University of California, Berkeley in 1995. In addition to the 2013 President’s Award for Academic Advising, she has been recognized with a 2011 Texas A&M Association of Former Students College-Level Distinguished Achievement Award in Teaching. Currently, she teaches the communication-intensive Chemistry 481 seminar course, physical chemistry (lecture and laboratory) and the Horizons in Chemistry course that introduces new chemistry majors to the opportunities afforded to them as current and former students. In the past, Gaede has taught Molecular Science for Citizens, which introduces the importance of chemistry in our everyday lives to non-science majors.
“When speaking with Dr. Gaede, there is always a sense that she strives for excellence in all that she does, but that she hasn’t lost sight of what’s most important in life,” said one of Gaede’s former students. “This makes her the most important role model among professors that I had while at Texas A&M.”
Another of Gaede’s former students who also served as one of her teaching assistants expanded on the lasting impact Gaede has had on her life, saying, “Professor Holly Gaede exemplifies excellent teaching by pursuing student-focused approaches built upon the foundation of genuine care for her students. She has had an incredible impact on my own teaching journey, and I am forever indebted to her investment in my life.”
Tag is an instructional assistant professor in the Texas A&M Department of Biology, where he also serves as director of Lower Division Instruction. He earned his doctorate in biology at Texas A&M in 2003 prior to joining the Texas A&M Biology faculty as a lecturer that same year. His research focuses on fungal biology. A 17-year classroom veteran of primarily lower-division instruction, Tag also has experience as a postdoctoral researcher and laboratory instructor. In addition to mentoring undergraduate researchers, he helped develop the department’s capstone course, “Research Communication in the Life Sciences,” required within the Biology Honors Program. In 2018, he was named a National Academies Education Fellow, based on his participation in the 2018 Summer Institutes on Scientific Teaching, annually co-sponsored by the National Academies and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and designed to improve undergraduate STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education from one of its most important vantage points — the head of the class.
“There are many excellent teachers at Texas A&M, and Dr. Tag is certainly among them,” wrote Tag’s nominator. “However, his ability to elevate an entire department is a rare gift. I am thankful to Dr. Tag for his tireless service and his commitment to teaching excellence. He is inspiring.”
A former student and current supplemental instructor for Tag described his approach to student-centered learning, saying, “His first concern is always how his students are understanding the material, not only what is being taught, but the importance of it, as well.”
Another colleague added, “He is dedicated to integrating educational technology and pedagogical approaches to enhance our students’ educational success.”
Learn more about the Provost Academic Professional Track (APT) Teaching Excellence Award or faculty in the College of Science.
Contact: Shana K. Hutchins, (979) 862-1237 or firstname.lastname@example.org