Deans’ Award for Teaching Honors Peers’ Nod for Teaching Excellence

Three TCU faculty members are honored with the 2020 Deans’ Award for Teaching: Jean Marie Brown, Cynthia Savage, Ph.D. and Carol Thompson, Ph.D.

“The Deans’ Teaching Award is presented to three faculty members who are voted on by their peers for dedicated teaching excellence,” said Chancellor Victor J. Boschini, Jr. before announcing this year’s winners. “Nominees must have been a full-time faculty member at TCU for a minimum of five years and must have shown a particular dedication to teaching and teaching-related activities.”

The colleges/schools nominate one faculty member, while AddRan College nominates one from each of its divisions — Humanities and Social Sciences. Each honoree receives $2,500.

Jean Marie Brown, Assistant Professor of Professional Practice and Director of Student Media, Journalism Department, Bob Schieffer College of Communication

“This award is a wonderful acknowledgment that has put me back in touch with many of my students,” she said. “I’m grateful for that because I’ve loved hearing from each of them.”

Brown’s teaching philosophy: “I want students to learn and grow. I create lessons and assignments with that in mind.”

A journalist first, Brown began her reporting career in the Chicago Bureau of The Wall Street Journal where she covered agriculture, financial futures and public policy. She spent most of her career with Knight Ridder and McClatchy newspapers. While at her hometown newspaper in Gary, Ind., she co-authored an award-winning series on racial segregation in northwest Indiana — at the time considered one of the most segregated regions of the country.

In 2009 she was working as deputy managing editor at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram when she was laid off.

“After a year of going on job interviews and being told I was ‘too smart,’ I decided to try graduate school with a goal of teaching,” she said. “I earned my master’s in journalism at TCU and then was hired as faculty by the journalism department.”

Brown has taught diversity in newsrooms across the country as well as leadership at the Poynter Institute. She also is a senior Fault Lines trainer for the Maynard Institute.

“I love working with students and seeing them grow, not just in the classroom, but as individuals,” she said.

  • Go-to morning beverage? Harney & Sons Hot Cinnamon Spice tea
  • Favorite movie? It’s a Wonderful Life
  • A surprising fact people may not know about you? I have five older brothers and am the youngest of six.


Cynthia Savage, Ph.D. associate professor of professional practice and associate dean of Undergraduate Studies, College of Education

“It’s an incredible honor to be selected as one of this year’s Deans’ Teaching Award winners,” she said. “With so many deserving faculty in our college, and across our university, I am deeply grateful to be recognized in such a way.”

Savage’s teaching philosophy has three tenets: “First, I believe that modeling and providing students with opportunities to have authentic, real-world experiences is paramount. In addition, I have found that providing opportunities for students to experiment with and apply what they are learning is crucial. Further, I believe it is important for students to have opportunities to demonstrate their understanding independently and outside of the context of my support or scaffolding.”

Savage joined TCU in fall 2006 as an instructor in what was then the School of Education — just as construction of the Bailey-Palko Education complex was beginning.

“As a faculty member, I love working with students and also engaging with a variety of stakeholders in our community, across the state and throughout the world,” she said. “As an associate dean, I enjoy having opportunities to support our college, students, faculty, staff and programs.”

Savage has authored/co-authored almost 100 presentations, technical/evaluation reports and journal publications. Her instructional expertise lies in youth advocacy, teacher education and research methodology. She also organizes faculty-led experiences and serves as the college’s European Teacher Education Network exchange coordinator.

In addition, she serves as vice president of Education Deans of Independent Colleges and Universities in Texas and as a board member of the Consortium of State Organizations for Texas Teacher Education. She regularly consults as an evaluator/psychometrician for education stakeholders.

Savage is the proud mom of three children. “Two have graduated from TCU and my youngest is currently a senior at TCU. We are a Horned Frog family!”

  • Favorite way to unwind? My favorite way to unwind in pandemic times has been to kayak at the lake.
  • Are you a pet person? I got a new puppy this summer, Lily. She’s an Aussiedoodle and is a lot of fun!
  • Thing you’ve missed most during the pandemic? I really miss being able to travel. I love exploring the world.


Carol Thompson, Ph.D. Professor, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, AddRan College of Liberal Arts (Social Sciences)

“This award is an incredible honor,” she said. “I am uplifted and feel deep appreciation for my incredible students and the strong and supportive community of teacher-scholars with whom I work.”

Thompson’s teaching is influenced by transformations happening in the world that have profound impacts on identities, groups, institutions, cultures and ecosystems.

“As a starting point, I take on the responsibility of providing a space where students can think analytically and honestly about the influences that enable and constrain us in becoming who we are and producing social life,” she said.

She also strives for a chameleon-like on-the-ground approach. “Chameleons are resilient, have fantastic observational skills, adapt to their environments and grow throughout their lives,” she said. “Whether in the classroom, office hours, advising or leading an international study program, I seek to model lifelong learning, adaptation, reflexivity, innovation, context sensitivity and personal growth. My cardinal objectives are to provide students with knowledge and tools that will be valuable for co-creating futures that are not only more equitable and respectful of our fellow human beings but also for other species and the natural world we share.”

Thompson came to TCU in 1992 for a one-year visiting position. “I was immediately Frog-struck and the result has been a rewarding 28-plus year career,” she said, noting that her students and departmental colleagues are what she loves most about her job.

In addition to co-founding the Human-Animal Relationships minor, Thompson co-created the TCU Borneo study abroad program to provide firsthand learning about deforestation and the heroic efforts of orangutan rescuers and rehabilitators. She also has directed the Leadership London study abroad program and taught social justice leadership courses for over 20 years.

She earned a Ph.D. in sociology from Louisiana State University and has conducted extensive ethnographic research on the life-worlds of animal rescuers.

  • Favorite course to teach? Whatever I am teaching at the moment! And, I am a very happy person when I am planning and reading for a new course.
  • Hobbies? Gardening, bird watching and caring for animals.
  • Are you a pet person? I am 100 percent an animal lover — and always have been. I have shared my life with many beloved animal companions.