Deans’ Award Honors Peer-Nominated Faculty for Teaching Excellence

Provost Teresa Abi-Nader Dahlberg announced the three honorees of the 2021 Deans’ Teaching Award, one of the highest university-wide honors. Congratulations to Michelle Bauml, Ph.D., Beata Jones, Ph.D., and Penny Maas.

The Deans’ Teaching Award honors TCU faculty who are nominated by their peers for demonstrating an exceptional dedication to teaching and teaching-related activities.

It is an honor to work with these esteemed faculty members, who represent excellence in the teacher-scholar model in the classroom and beyond,” Provost Dahlberg said. “While the awards recognize the achievements of the past year, which were exceptionally challenging as we adjusted to the pandemic, they also encompass several years of distinction and dedication. I’m proud to recognize these individuals for their impact on our students.” 

Each TCU college and school nominates one faculty member, while AddRan College of Liberal Arts nominates one from each of its divisions — Humanities and Social Sciences — for a total of eight finalists. Nominees must be full-time faculty members at TCU for a minimum of five years and show a particular dedication to teaching and teaching-related activities. All deans meet to discuss the nominees and vote on the three honorees, each of whom receives $2,500.

Michelle Bauml, Ph.D.
Clotilda Winter Professor of Education and Associate Professor of Early Childhood/Social Studies Education
College of Education

“I am sincerely grateful for this award and honored to have been selected because there are so many wonderful teachers at this university,” Bauml said. “I feel fortunate to work alongside so many supportive students, faculty and staff here at TCU.”

When Bauml was in fifth grade, her father took a job that moved the family from Texas to South Korea, where she felt the discomfort of being an outsider who couldn’t read, write or speak the language. Through those experiences, she learned the value of education for its ability to connect and empower people.

After beginning her career as a public school teacher at a Title 1 school, Bauml followed her dream of being a “teacher of teachers” and in 2010 joined the faculty at TCU, where she teaches cohorts of future teachers in the Early Childhood Education (EC-6) program. Her experience as a child living in Korea impacted how she understands diversity, equity and inclusion, so opening doors for students of color and other marginalized individuals is a responsibility she takes seriously. While serving as the COE’s EC-6 program coordinator, she led a degree program redesign that resulted in having all EC-6 majors take teaching methods courses for special education and English language learners — instead of requiring them to choose only one. Now TCU graduates enter the teaching field uniquely equipped to support children’s diverse learning needs.

Bauml’s teaching stretches far beyond the traditional classroom walls. As a social studies scholar, her research informs her practice both inside and outside the classroom. Her multiyear iEngage Summer Civics Institute teaches area middle school youth about the importance of and opportunities related to civic engagement, and her collaboration with TCU’s Starpoint lab school led to a schoolwide Veterans Day program and journal article co-authored by teacher Lisa May.

“A principle of effective teaching that resonates with me whether I’m teaching young children or adults is the notion of establishing and maintaining a positive learning environment,” she said. “In my classes, this emerges through authentic learning experiences, timely and specific feedback on assignments, and regular check-ins with students. This year, establishing a positive learning environment while teaching online took some creativity and extra time, but the investments have been worth the effort.”

Beata Jones, Ph.D.
Professor of Professional Practice in Business Information Systems
Neeley School of Business

“I feel blessed beyond words to be recognized by my colleagues for the work that brings me so much joy each day,” Jones said.

Jones creates student-centered learning environments that teach students how to empower themselves for lifelong learning. This involves continuously researching and implementing pedagogy and learning strategies to enhance students’ learning experiences. As her discipline continues to evolve, she has developed 11 new BIS courses at TCU. Additionally, she received the best paper award for her work to reengineer the introductory information systems course. Jones consistently achieves her goals of providing engaging and relevant courses that require students to practice higher-order critical thinking.

As the founding director of the Neeley Fellows Program, Jones developed programs that help students create pathways to achieve their personal and professional goals. She also spent three years as an Honors Faculty Fellow in the John V. Roach Honors College, where she refined various pedagogy strategies that help students develop intercultural competence. Last summer, she led the Neeley School of Business 2020 Course Design and eTrainer teams as a part of the TCU Connected Campus initiative, helping Neeley faculty design and deliver resilient courses that work regardless of modality — online, in person or in between. Beyond TCU, she is heavily involved in the European Honors Council and the National Collegiate Honors Council, where she serves as the chair of the NCHC Professional Development Committee and as an editorial board member of the Journal of the European Honors Council.

Jones has spent 24 of her 30-plus years in teaching at TCU, where her joy of teaching has a life-changing impact on her students, fellow faculty and her.

“I view my role as a designer of educational adventures who secures necessary resources for the students and then serves as a ‘guide on a side’ within the classroom and beyond,” she said. “Teaching to me is being an artist, an essayist and a scientist all in one, orchestrating a class, considering the recently changed profile of our students and the research on course design, pedagogy and learning.”

Penny Maas
Associate Professor of Theatre
College of Fine Arts

“I am extremely honored to be one of the recipients of the Deans’ Teaching Award this year,” Maas said. “I am particularly grateful to Dean Gipson in the School of Fine Arts, my Chair, Harry Parker, and all of my esteemed colleagues in the Department of Theatre who have been so encouraging and supportive of my academic journey. I believe our TCU students are some of the finest in the country, and so I am humbled to receive this prestigious award recognizing all of the time, effort and energy that I have devoted to them, the department and the university these past nine years.”

Maas came to academia after 21 years of working as a professional actress, singer and dancer on Broadway — appearing in the original Broadway cast of the Tony Award-winning musical Crazy For You (1992-1994) as well as the Broadway revivals of Damn Yankees (1994-1995) and Cabaret (1999-2004). When she joined the TCU faculty nine years ago, she brought a unique mix of scholarship, creative activity and teaching experience.

Among her first endeavors: spearheading the creation of TCU’s BFA Theatre Senior Showcase, which has grown to be the envy of many larger universities and departments. Dozens of TCU graduates have acquired jobs and professional representation as a direct result of the excellence of the department’s annual New York Showcase. Using her many connections from New York City, she has brought numerous high-level guest teaching-artists to campus.

Maas consistently challenges students to never be satisfied and to keep working to be better. Relentlessly supportive and energized, she also fills students with encouragement as she instructs, questions and corrects. Students in her musical theatre acting classes feel safe to fail — a crucial component for success in the arts and in life. Balancing students’ natural desire for an excellent “product” with the critical skills that professional artists must develop in learning the appropriate “process,” Maas tells her students the truth holds them accountable, gives them the skills to improve and nurtures their development. She is a teaching mentor whose greatest joy is a student’s genuine discovery.

“I strive to pass on the most valuable insights and skills to our students to better prepare them for what they are all seeking and for what they already want to do: book professional work,” she said. “My goal has been, and continues to be, helping our students feel successful and  be the best versions of themselves, inside and outside of classes. And to get there, my motto continues to be to ‘take my teaching beyond the classroom.’”