Associate Professor Lee Ann Kahlor was awarded the Moody College of Communication Teaching Excellence Award on Dec. 5 after being nominated by students, vetted by fellow faculty members and a committee of past winners and approved by Interim Dean Jay M. Bernhardt.
"Professor Kahlor’s passion and dedication to helping minority students adjust to college life is as exemplary as her teaching,” said Jacy Jones, master’s student in the Stan Richards School of Advertising and Public Relations. “She goes above and beyond the traditional role of a professor, working to increase diversity and inclusion in the school and guarantee that minority students have a shoulder to lean on."
As the minority liaison who works closely with students of color mentoring ongoing research projects, Kahlor also advises students in the English as a Second Language (ESL) program to acclimate to spoken English and classroom norms and helped the school win recognition from the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication’s (AEJMC) Minority Division in 2014.
“We have really good professors in this college, so when other professors who have won awards in the past come together and say you’re doing work that’s worth being honored, you feel really good,” said Kahlor. “I want to be remembered for doing good.”
Last year’s winner, Associate Professor Brad Love, said the committee reviewed Kahlor’s course evaluations, classroom innovation, student mentoring and teaching philosophy and noted her intelligence, positive attitude, spirit and enthusiasm.
“Her level of engagement with students and commitment to building them as people, scholars, and members of society is really special,” said Love. “The rest of us try to do that, but she pulls it off to a unique caliber. LeeAnn is living out so much of what we want to be as faculty.”
Kahlor said the most rewarding aspect of teaching is that her students are full of surprises.
“I often like to bring up topics that will make students think and challenge their comfort zone—and what I love about UT students is that they are always willing to go there,” said Kahlor.
She added the best thing an educator can do to make an impact in the classroom is to know what makes them incomparable to other faculty members.
“The best advice that I could give to other professors or teachers or instructors is to learn what makes you unique because what makes you unique is what’s going to make you interesting to your students,” said Kahlor. “They will appreciate your quirkiness.”