UNT faculty members shine as teachers, mentors and scholars

Randolph 'Mike' Campbell, Ruthanne 'Rudi' Thompson and Angela Wilson (Photo by Michael Clements)Randolph "Mike" Campbell was among the first scholars to write about the prevalence of slavery in Texas, and his expertise on Texas' rich past earned him the chief historian role for the Texas State Historical Association.

As director of UNT's Center for Advanced Scientific Computing and Modeling (CASCaM), Angela Wilson is a leader in computational or theoretical chemistry, examining problems in a wide range of areas including materials science and environmental chemistry.

Ruthanne "Rudi" Thompson is the program director for the award-winning Dallas Environmental Education Initiative. The program seeks to expand the use of renewable energy in schools while also educating learners of all ages on ways to conserve the environment's natural resources.

Their research areas are as different as they are complex. But they have at least one thing in common. They love to teach and they are good at it.

UNT honored Campbell, Regents Professor of history; Wilson, Regents Professor of chemistry; and Thompson, associate professor of biological sciences, and its more than 1,000 faculty during the second annual Salute to Faculty Excellence Week.

Many of UNT's faculty members are national and international experts in their fields, earning top national honors, fellowships and awards. Salute to Faculty Excellence Week celebrates UNT's faculty for excelling as teachers and scholars. The program honors the best of the best, with more than 30 awards given to top faculty for their teaching, research, leadership and service accomplishments, including the top three awards supported by the UNT Foundation.

"Our faculty are committed to furthering our understanding of the world through research and scholarship and then sharing that knowledge and insight with students. That's what makes them such great teachers. They innovate and educate," says President V. Lane Rawlins.

In addition to showcasing faculty greatness, the weeklong recognition gives students the opportunity to say thanks and gives faculty the opportunity to network. Celebrations and networking events throughout the week include the Thank-A-Teacher Ice Cream Social, during which students share an ice cream sundae with their favorite professors. The week culminates with the Salute to Faculty Excellence Awards Dinner and Celebration, a black-tie dinner on Friday, Sept. 27, at Apogee Stadium.

"UNT has committed to providing our students with the best educational experience in Texas, and that commitment starts with our faculty. I'm constantly inspired by the fine work of our faculty members and how dedicated they are to teaching and scholarship," says Provost Warren Burggren. "Salute to Faculty Excellence Week is our way of saying thanks and keep up the great work."

UNT's faculty members help students by challenging them and supporting them — principles embodied in UNT's new Succeed at UNT campaign, which offers handy tips and resources.

Read about how UNT’s faculty winners support student success.

Campbell, who garnered the top Salute to Faculty Excellence award, says teaching and research draw on the same skills and passion.

"The key to teaching and being a historian is not just knowing the material. It's a matter of constantly trying to draw people into the material and letting them know that it matters," Campbell says. "I think I'm a better teacher because I'm a researcher and I'm a better researcher because I'm a teacher."

Eminent Faculty award

Randolph 'Mike' Campbell (Photo by Michael Clements)The UNT Foundation Eminent Faculty Award recognizes a faculty member who has made outstanding and sustained contributions to scholarly-creative activity, teaching and service. As one of the highest faculty achievements at UNT, the Eminent Faculty Award recipient serves as an inspiration for the entire UNT community.

Randolph "Mike" Campbell

No one has changed how we think about Texas' past and its connection to the South more profoundly than Campbell. The renowned scholar, teacher and mentor joined UNT's history department in 1966 and has served as a Regents Professor since 1988.

As a leading contemporary historian of Texas, Campbell has pioneered work in local and county records, redefining the model for grassroots research and community studies in the field. Some of his published books include:

  • Gone to Texas: A History of the Lone Star State
  • Wealth and Power in Antebellum Texas, with UNT colleague Richard G. Lowe
  • A Southern Community in Crisis: Harrison County Texas, 1850-1880
  • An Empire for Slavery: The Peculiar  Institution in Texas, 1821-1865
  • Sam Houston and the American Southwest
  • Grass-Roots  Reconstruction  in Texas, 1865-1880

Campbell holds the title of Lone Star Professor of History and chief historian for the Texas State Historical Association.

Faculty Leadership award

Angela Wilson (Photo by Michael Clements)The UNT Foundation Faculty Leadership Award acknowledges a faculty member who makes a significant impact on the academic enterprise through innovative initiatives, leadership and service.

Angela Wilson

A fellow of the American Chemical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Wilson leads a research team that is working to create chemical models that will accurately compute energetics across the periodic table.

In 2008, Wilson was designated as a lifetime National Associate of the U.S. National Academies for her extraordinary service to the National Research Council in its role as advisor to the nation in matters concerning science, engineering and health. Wilson has served three times as one of six U.S. delegates to the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) General Assembly to represent U.S interests.

Wilson joined the UNT faculty in 2000 as an assistant professor. Her awards include:

  • UNT's first recipient of the National Science Foundation's CAREER Award, honoring young scholars who effectively integrate research and education within the context of their organization's mission
  • One of two U.S. recipients of the IUPAC 2013 Distinguished Women in Chemistry or Chemical Engineering awards given across the world
  • 20l0 Prix d'Incitation Scientifique du Centre de Mecanique Ondulatoire Appliquee (Promising Young Scientist Prize of CMOA), an international award given to young scientists for outstanding achievements in chemistry and physics

Faculty Community Engagement award

Ruthanne 'Rudi' Thompson (Photo by Michael Clements)The UNT Foundation Faculty Community Engagement Award recognizes a faculty member who has the sensitivity to understand and work across organizational boundaries and the leadership to build bridges among community institutions.

Ruthanne "Rudi" Thompson

Thompson provides learning opportunities for citizens of all ages on issues that impact the environment. Her commitment began at UNT with her participation in the development of the Elm Fork Education Center in 1995.

Through the years, Thompson has brought in elementary students from more than 65 school districts in the North Texas region to participate in the hands-on, inquiry-based science program. She's also created outreach events including Family Fun Science Saturday and the Elm Fork Summer Camp program -- all aimed at introducing the greater community to environmental issues and science.

Through the Research Experience for Teachers, funded by the National Science Foundation, Thompson has created local events such as TechFest: Engineer Your Way to a Better Tomorrow, which has engaged more than 1,000 families in environmental science activities at UNT.

The Environmental Education Initiative, funded by the city of Dallas, has allowed Thompson to work with more than 900,000 Dallas residents on water conservation issues. In addition, through SMART Schools, a state-supported program, Thompson has worked with school communities throughout Texas, from Amarillo to San Antonio, on issues concerning energy conservation.