Texas Tech Chancellor's Council Announces Outstanding Teaching, Research Awards

Faculty members are honored for their outstanding teaching and research.

Two faculty members from Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center and two from Texas Tech University today (Dec. 6) received the Chancellor’s Council Distinguished Teaching and Research Awards.

The Distinguished Teaching Awards go to Robert "Bob" McDonald, professor in the Rawls College of Business Administration at Texas Tech, and to Jon A. Weidanz, professor in the School of Pharmacy at the Health Sciences Center.

The Distinguished Research Awards go to Thomas Thekkumkara in the School of Pharmacy at the Health Sciences Center and to Stephen Graham Jones, professor of English at Texas Tech University.

"These four individuals epitomize the high standard we have for academic instruction and research at both universities," said Kent Hance, chancellor of the Texas Tech University System. "They are a major reason why our students receive an outstanding education. I am very impressed with the impact they are having on our students and in their individual fields of scholarship and research."

This is the seventh year for the Chancellor’s Council to present the awards. The winners will receive a plaque and a $10,000 cash award. The Chancellor’s Council raises funds for student scholarships, faculty recruitment and support, and other programs.

McDonald, an associate professor of marketing, has been with Texas Tech since 2001. He teaches several classes including sales management and business-to-business marketing, where he consistently receives top marks on student evaluations. He received the Texas Tech President’s Teaching Award in 2005 and is this year’s winner of the Marketing Management Association’s Teaching Excellence Award. He also is a member of the executive council of the university’s Teaching Academy and served as a service learning faculty fellow mentor. He received his bachelor’s degree from Columbia University, his master’s degrees from the University of Houston and his doctorate from the University of Connecticut.

Weidanz, an associate professor, has been on the faculty of the School of Pharmacy since 2000 teaching immunology, biochemistry and pharmacotherapy courses. He received the 2007 President’s Excellence in Teaching Award and won the Teacher of the Year Award in the School of Pharmacy in 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2006. Weidanz is a widely-published author and has spoken at numerous conferences. He has redesigned an immunology course and developed a new course on clinical immunization, both of which give students hands-on practical experience. In addition to his teaching responsibilities he conducts funded research in the area of cancer therapy. He earned his bachelor’s degree from West Virginia University and his master’s degree and doctorate from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Thekkumkara joined the School of Pharmacy in 2000, where he also serves as associate dean for research. He was awarded the President’s Research Achievement Award in 2007 and the Distinguished Faculty Award at the Health Sciences Center in 2003. He has been a member of the Teaching Team of the Year for Pharmacotherapy II classes three times since 2001. Thekkumkara is widely published and has research funding from the National Institutes of Health and the American Heart Association, among others. His research currently focuses on the molecular mechanisms that activate and regulate G-protein coupled receptors. These receptors play a critical role in blood pressure regulation and electrolyte balance, which are implicated in many medical disorders including hypertension and diabetes. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Kerala University in India, his master’s degree and doctorate from Kanpur University in India and was a postdoctoral fellow in biochemistry and molecular biology at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.

Jones, who joined the university in 2001, is an associate professor of creative writing in the Department of English. He has published four novels, with a fifth due next year. He also has published one collection of short stories and more than 80 short stories in prominent literary journals. Jones has received the Independent Bookseller's Award for Multicultural Fiction, the Texas Institute of Letters Jesse Jones Award for Best Work of Fiction, a National Endowment of the Arts Fellowship in Literature and a Texas Writers League Fellowship in fiction. He has twice received a second-place award in the Texas Tech President's Book Award Competition. He has also been a finalist for the International Horror Guild Award, the Bram Stoker Award and the Texas Writers League Violet Crown Award. Jones earned his bachelor's degree from Texas Tech, his master's from the University of North Texas and his doctorate from Florida State University.