Churchill receives prestigious Piper Award


Sally Krutzig, News Editor


I could die and go to heaven without ever having gotten this award, just reading those [nomination] letters,” said Dr. Scott Churchill. “I was weeping.”

Churchill, a psychology professor, has been teaching at the University of Dallas for over 35 years. He estimates that he has taught over 200 courses throughout the years, with at least 50 of those in different subject areas. These courses are not only in the field of clinical psychology, which is his specialty; he also teaches courses in film, zoology, primate studies, etc.

“I’ve enjoyed the luxury of exploring so many areas, which I couldn’t do at other institutions,” he said.

These “beautiful” letters he received were those nominating him for the Minnie Stevens Piper Foundation Award, considered to be the most prestigious college-level teaching award in the state. Every year it is awarded to ten Texas professors for their hard work and dedication. Past UD recipients include: Louise Cowan, university professor; Cherie Clodfelter, former education professor; Frank Doe, associate professor of biology; Richard Olenick, professor of physics; Judy Kelly, professor emerita of drama; and Sister Clodovia Lockett, former biology professor.

Dr. Churchill with Jane Goodall, whom he invited to come to UD.  He said arranging her visit to campus was  “the highlight of my career.”  -Photo courtesy of Dr. Scott Churchill
Dr. Churchill with Jane Goodall, whom he invited to come to UD. He said arranging her visit to campus was “the highlight of my career.”
-Photo courtesy of Dr. Scott Churchill

A UD panel nominated six professors, who each sent in a list of their past achievements. The Minnie Stevens Piper Foundation looks not only to what professors have done within their institution, but also to what they have done within their local community.

Churchill is an outstanding person who reaches out beyond his career to participate in the community.

His lifelong admiration for Jane Goodall, whom he has met and continues to exchange emails with due to their mutual interest in primate studies, led him to start up a branch of the Jane Goodall Roots and Shoots Program.

He is also a film critic for the Irving Community Television Network, which he says he has had the “good fortune” to work with for the past three decades, and participates as a critic in local film festivals.

This involvement in the community may explain his practice of using Dallas, TX and even UD’s campus, as a “living laboratory.” He brings classroom studies to life by taking his students through museums, zoos and art galleries.

Churchill recalls finding out that he had won the award.

“I got a letter in the mail one day. It was such a thin letter that I went ‘uh oh,’” he recalled. “I didn’t even want to open it.”

Luckily, he did and found out that he had won a very prestigious award.

“I am so very honored — and humbled — to be in such distinguished company in receiving the 2014 Piper Professor award. This is the first time that I have received a teaching award, and it is especially meaningful to me that it comes from such a fine institution as the Minnie Stevens Piper Foundation. To have been nominated for this award by my peers means the world to me. Most of all, I wish to thank my students, past and present, who have always been my inspiration. I thank you all from the bottom of my heart,” said Churchill, in a statement about the award.

Churchill manages to find the time for his many class offerings and local interests, while still maintaining a deep commitment to UD students and to his psychological studies. He is currently assisting his students with their theses and writing seven papers that he will present at various conferences.

He also recently won two other awards with the American Psychological Association, including the Charlotte and Karl Buehler Award for Significant and Lasting Contributions to the field of Human Science Psychology and the 2013 Outstanding Lifetime Service Award with the Society for Humanistic Psychology.

The University of Dallas looks forward to seeing what further accomplishments Dr. Churchill has in store for the school.


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