The Minnie Stevens Piper Foundation announced this week that Professor of physics Dr. Sally Hicks has been named a 2016 Piper Professor for her teaching excellence.
According to an email from University of Dallas Provost Dr. C.W. Eaker, the Piper Professor award is given to 10 professors in the state of Texas every year.
The eight previous winners from UD include Dr. Richard Olenick of the physics department, Dr. Frank Doe and Sr. Clovodia Lockett of the biology department, Dr. Louise Cowan of the English department, and Dr. Scott Churchill of the psychology department.
In an email, Eaker stated that the award recognizes Hicks’ contributions not only to the physics department but also to the university as a whole.
“This award is a wonderful recognition of the many ways … Hicks has mentored and taught students at the University of Dallas,” Eaker wrote. “She has directed over fifty science students on undergraduate research projects and theses. She served science and non-science students as a former director of the Prestigious Scholarship[s] and Fellowship[s] Office. She is currently the director of the Dual-Degree Engineering Program and the Clare Booth[e] Luce (CBL) Scholarship Program. The CBL Program provides scholarships and programming specifically for female students majoring in computer science, engineering, mathematics, and physics.”
The award includes a $5,000 monetary award, according to Hicks.
She added that she was excited to receive the Piper Professor award.
“It’s an honor to have recognition external from the university,” Hicks said, noting that the Piper Professor award is one of the biggest honors she has received in her teaching career.
According to Hicks, the award process begins with a nomination from someone in-house.
The names of nominees are then turned over to the Piper Committee, composed of faculty who have previously won Piper Professor awards.
The application itself requires five letters of recommendation from students and colleagues, a biography encompassing the applicant’s career, involvement with student organizations and off-campus service work.
The administration then completes part of the application.
Hicks said that one of the most important parts of the application is the applicant’s dedication to his or her students, something she has demonstrated throughout her time at UD.
“It’s not just for good professors, but for [those who are] involved in the community and going above and beyond teaching to work with students,” Hicks said. “I’m dealing with students who want to learn. It’s easier to be a good professor here.”
Hicks added that she enjoys working with young people as a teacher.
“I teach because I can’t think of anything better to do … [There’s] the joy of working with students,” Hicks said. “I really connect with [this] age group [through] talking with them about their dreams, helping them figure out what they want to do in life.”
Finally, Hicks said that she has had strong teacher mentors throughout her life, who have motivated and helped her be a good instructor herself.
A reception in Hicks’ honor will be held in Gorman Faculty Lounge this afternoon from 4:30-5:30 p.m.