The University of Houston-Victoria School of Education, Health Professions & Human Development recently presented awards to three assistant professors and one staff member for distinction in teaching, scholarship and service.
The 2016-2017 honorees were:
- Outstanding Faculty Member in Teaching – Liping Wei, assistant professor of curriculum and instruction
- Outstanding Faculty Member in Scholarship – Wayne Smith, assistant professor of counselor education
- Outstanding Faculty Member in Service – Jennifer Boswell, assistant professor of counselor education
- Outstanding Staff Member – Amber Gates, instructional technology specialist
The awards have been presented every year since 2013 to recognize outstanding accomplishments by the school’s faculty and staff. A faculty and staff committee chooses the recipients.
“We have many outstanding faculty and staff members who tirelessly labor to make UHV a great institution,” said Fred Litton, dean of the UHV School of Education, Health Professions & Human Development. “I am very pleased the work with these individuals who were recognized by their peers for the 2016-2017 awards.”
Wei specializes in English as a Second Language/Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages teacher preparation and development.
“I tremendously appreciate what students think of my teaching,” Wei said. “It is very gratifying to see that my work in the classroom has a positive impact on my students. It is very humbling to receive this award, as the School of Education, Health Professions & Human Development has many faculty members who are excellent educators.”
Since she is instructing a classroom full of future teachers, Wei strives to prepare students for the knowledge, skills and attributes effective teachers should possess.
“Through my own teaching, I hope to inspire students to think about what kind of teachers they may want to become in their future classrooms,” she said.
Smith helped UHV land a $300,601 state grant to recruit more community college graduates into the university’s degree programs that focus on physical and mental health. The grant was awarded by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board under the Minority Health Research and Education Grant Program. By creating an easier pathway to UHV, more students from underrepresented minority groups in Texas are participating in health professions programs.
“This grant is bringing the community together and building bridges across cultures to promote allied health in Victoria and beyond,” Smith said. “The university, partnering agencies and students are reaping the benefits.”
During the past academic year, Smith has made presentations with students about providing counseling services for children and adolescents with autism, counseling youth at risk, utilizing creative approaches like music in counseling and supervision, teaching advocacy, and best practices in teaching. He made more than 15 national and international presentations overall. He also published three manuscripts and received a grant from the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health for a project titled “Peer-Led Positive Psychology for Hispanic Youth in South Texas.”
Smith said it was an honor to receive the award among a group of colleagues who are engaging in groundbreaking research and scholarly activities.
“I am truly blessed to work with teammates who are passionate and driven,” he said.
Boswell led a successful effort to have UHV’s clinical mental health counseling accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs. She serves as a CACREP liaison and site team visitor.
She also is a member of UHV’s Graduate Studies Committee and serves as faculty advisor to Chi Sigma Iota, an international counseling academic and professional honor society. In addition, she is involved with 10 different counseling organizations, including six national ones.
Boswell is assistant editor for the Mentoring and Tutoring Journal: Partnership in Learning, and for the Advancing Women in Leadership Journal. She also is an editorial board member for the International Journal of Play Therapy, the Journal of Child and Adolescent Counseling, and the International Journal of Mentoring and Coaching in Education.
“It meant so much to me that the school and my colleagues recognized the tireless work I do for the university, the students in the counselor education program, and the counseling profession,” Boswell said. “As a counselor educator, I believe it is important to promote the program and ensure our students have a rigorous and rewarding learning experience.”
Gates works with faculty members to set up and manage online courses. She played a key role in launching the first year of UHV’s online Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing program.
“I worked closely with our nursing faculty and staff to get everything up and running,” she said.
Gates started at UHV in January 2016. She worked in the Technology Services Department before moving into her current role in July.
“I was surprised at first, but appreciative,” Gates said about the award. “It’s good to be recognized for your work. It’s fun to get together at the end of the school year and celebrate.”