UHV presents faculty awards for teaching, research, service excellence

Liping Wei
Joseph Locke
Joann Olson

Three University of Houston-Victoria faculty members from the fields of curriculum and instruction, history, and adult and higher education recently were recognized for their efforts to help students and the university through teaching, research and service.

The faculty members are selected by their colleagues and students each spring for the prestigious awards. This year’s winners are:

  • Teaching Excellence Award – Liping Wei, assistant professor of curriculum and instruction in the School of Education, Health Professions & Human Development
  • Research and Scholarly Activity Excellence Award – Joseph Locke, assistant professor of history in the School of Arts & Sciences
  • Distinguished Faculty Service Award – Joann Olson, associate professor of adult and higher education in the School of Education, Health Professions & Human Development

Each winner will receive a plaque and a monetary award. They also will be honored during UHV’s two graduation ceremonies May 18 at Faith Family Church, 2002 E. Mockingbird Lane. The 9 a.m. ceremony will be for graduates of the schools of Arts & Sciences and Education, Health Professions & Human Development. The 1 p.m. ceremony will be for graduates of the School of Business Administration. A live-streaming broadcast of the ceremonies will be available at

David Cockrum

“These outstanding faculty members are most deserving of these awards,” said David Cockrum, UHV interim provost and vice president for academic affairs. “They represent all the brilliant faculty members we have at UHV who are dedicated to our mission of furthering the education of students.”

The Teaching Excellence Award was established in 1993. UHV students nominate professors who exemplify innovative, high-quality instruction relevant to their lives and careers.

For Wei, receiving this award was an honor, especially because the nomination process was driven by her students.

“I am humbled, and it means a great deal to me,” she said. “It’s truly gratifying for a teacher educator to be seen by students as a role model for what they can be and do for their future students.”

Wei teaches undergraduates courses for students in the Teacher Education Program and graduate courses for students pursuing their Master of Education in curriculum and instruction with a concentration in English as a Second Language/Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages. Wei feels a great sense of accomplishment knowing her students are prepared for their future teaching careers and can impact students in the same way she’s impacted them, she said.

“Teacher development never ends,” she said. “I think the most valuable asset I can leave my students with after the courses end each semester is a greater enthusiasm for teaching and a stronger desire to keep advancing their pedagogical knowledge and skills on their own throughout their teaching careers.”

The Research and Scholarly Activity Excellence Award recognizes professors who have made outstanding research contributions to their scholarly communities. Locke has participated in conference presentations, written book reviews, evaluated manuscripts and published several pieces of research.

“I’ve had a book, article and textbook come out over the past 18 months,” Locke said. “Oxford University Press published my first book in 2017, which was a history of prohibition and religion in Texas.”

Locke’s research has involved religion, race and the border. An article about these topics was published in the Western Historical Quarterly last year. He also received an award from the Western Historical Association. In January, Stanford University Press formally published a collaboratively built, open-access American history textbook he coedited.

UHV faculty members also annually recognize a peer with the Distinguished Faculty Service Award. This faculty member must admirably serve both the university and community. Olson has placed priority on investing in what her students are investing in – UHV.

For Olson, getting involved and getting to know others on campus was a matter of being a part of shaping what the university is doing, and serving the university and its students, she said.

During her time at UHV, Olson has served on the freshman review committee and the tenure and promotion committee, and has been actively involved in the faculty senate. She has represented UHV as part of the Victoria police department’s sergeant promotion process. Olson also informally helped start a routine lunch with faculty members in the residence halls so they can get to know each other and the students.

In addition, Olson also was involved in the application process of the $645,677 National Science Foundation grant as an educational researcher. This grant was awarded to UHV in 2018, and the funds are being used to help increase enrollment, retention and graduation of low-income students majoring in mathematics and computer science.

Olson approaches service by getting involved in settings to get to know people she wouldn’t have otherwise met.

“There are so many people at UHV who do so much service for the university,” Olson said. “When I moved here, I knew I needed to be a boots-on-the-ground servant in getting to know people and the university. Service is an opportunity to get involved in the things that are important to the university and its students.”

The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region since 1973 in Victoria, Texas, offers courses leading to more than 80 academic programs in the schools of Arts & Sciences; Business Administration; and Education, Health Professions & Human Development. UHV provides face-to-face classes at its Victoria campus, as well as an instructional site in Katy, Texas, and online classes that students can take from anywhere. UHV supports the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Opportunities for All initiative to increase awareness about state colleges and universities and the important role they have in providing a high-quality and accessible education to an increasingly diverse student population, as well as contributing to regional and state economic development.

Ashley Strevel 361-570-4342