The University of Houston-Victoria recently honored three faculty members for their outstanding contributions to the university, its students and the community through teaching, research and service.

The faculty members are selected by their colleagues and students each spring for the prestigious awards. This year’s winners are:

  • Teaching Excellence Award – Chien-Ping Chen, professor of economics in the School of Business Administration
  • Research and Scholarly Activity Excellence Award – Massomeh Hajilee, associate professor of economics and international business in the School of Business Administration
  • Distinguished Faculty Service Award – Jeffrey Blodgett, professor of marketing in the School of Business Administration

Each winner will receive a plaque and a monetary award. They also will be honored during UHV’s spring graduation ceremonies once it is safe to hold the event.

“UHV faculty members are essential to the success of our students and our university, and these awards acknowledge those who have made an exceptional impact in three key areas,” said Chance Glenn, UHV provost and vice president for academic affairs. “I applaud each of them for their hard work and efforts to continue UHV’s tradition of excellence.”

The Teaching Excellence Award was established in 1993. UHV students nominate professors who exemplify innovative, high-quality instruction relevant to their lives and careers.

For Chen, receiving the teaching award is a confirmation that his enthusiasm in teaching is appreciated by his students. Chen also received the teaching award in 2005.

“This is a great honor for me, especially the nominations from students during the current challenging times,” he said. “I didn’t really expect it. Part of my success in teaching comes from the fact that I love economics. When I teach my students, I share that love with them and try to help them see its importance.”

Chen encourages his students to participate in classes, he said. Although the university moved all of its classes online during the spring semester because of the COVID-19 pandemic and a fire in UHV University West, Chen has experience teaching online and knows the importance of reaching out to students to make sure they stay involved and connected.

“Some people see online teaching and classes as easy, but to truly be an excellent teacher, you have to put in extra effort when your students are online instead of in the classroom,” he said. “You have to earn and keep their attention so they know that you know them and see their hard work.”

The Research and Scholarly Activity Excellence Award recognizes professors who have made outstanding research contributions to their scholarly communities. Hajilee’s research focuses on elements of international economics, especially in emerging economies. Her recent research focuses on topics that include financial inclusion, shadow economies and financial market development, including banking sector and stock market developments.

“Receiving this honor means a lot, because it shows that the university knows the value of research, hard work and dedication,” she said. “I believe that research is the foundation on which universities are built. Research improves faculty’s teaching. For us to continue to add value to students’ educational experiences, we must actively remain engaged in the field – both in terms of research and best practice.”

Hajilee’s research has been published in highly respected journals. In addition, she has served as a reviewer of more than 50 journals, reviewed more than 100 articles, served as an article editor, been on a journal’s editorial board, and participated in economic professional presentations and served as the chair of discussion sessions.

UHV faculty members also annually recognize a peer with the Distinguished Faculty Service Award to someone who serves both the university and community.

For Blodgett, service is an essential part of being a good leader, especially when it comes to paving the way for those in the next generation. It is his belief that faculty members should be involved in a wide range of opportunities at the university, especially in terms of shared governance.

“As the university makes important decisions, it is essential that administration consult with the faculty through the Faculty Senate to get feedback,” he said. “Ever since President Bob Glenn took office, and now with Provost Glenn, there have been lots of good discussion on various topics, and the best and well-reasoned solutions tend to rise to the top. We recognize that shared governance does not mean that the university is bound to always follow our recommendations, and are appreciative of the opportunity to provide meaningful input, and the fact that the administration takes our thoughts into consideration.”

During the past year, he has served as the UHV School of Business Administration member on the university Faculty Senate’s executive team. He also is the chair of the Faculty Salary Committee and chair of the marketing committee that is part of the UHV Academic Strategic Planning Committee.

“It’s important to me to try to do whatever I can to make the university a better place for younger faculty,” Blodgett said. “UHV has a lot of great, young faculty members. It’s important for the senior faculty to advocate for them so they can continue UHV’s tradition of offering an excellent higher education to our students.”

As another example of giving back, Blodgett has donated the honorarium that comes with this award to the UHV Student Emergency Fund.

Outside of UHV, Blodgett has served as the American Association of University Professors regional vice president for Texas. In July, he will become the association’s president for a three-year term.

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