EPPS Outstanding Teaching Comet Awards

"If you're going to be a teacher, there can't be a more satisfying reward than being recognized by those you teach. I am extremely honored."
― Donald Arbuckle Clinical Professor and PhD Advisor of Public Affairs, winner of 2013-2014 Outstanding Teaching Comet Awards

Students nominated EPPS faculty, lecturers, and teaching assistants in each of the school's degree areas for the EPPS Outstanding Teaching Comet Awards. Faculty, lecturers and Graduate student instructors who received the most nominations in their areas were presented with crystal apple paperweights engraved with their names.

2015 - 2016 List of Winners and Honorable Mentions


Winner: Denise Boots

Honorable Mentions: Alexis Harper, Bruce Jacobs

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Winner: Christopher Roby

Honorable Mentions: Daniel O’Brien, Dann Arce, Dong Li, Rodney Andrews, Sherry Xin Li, Stephen Kiser,
Victor Valcarcel

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Geospatial Information Sciences

Winner: Anthony Cummings

Honorable Mentions: Irina Vakulenko, Yongwan Chun

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Political Science

Winner: Brian Bearry

Honorable Mentions: Clint Peinhardt, Linda Keith, Patrick Brandt

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Public and Nonprofit Management

Winners: James Harrington

Honorable Mentions: Donald Arbuckle, Doug Kiel, John McCaskill, Meghna Sabharwal, Paul Battaglio,
Teodoro Benavides, Young-joo Lee

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Public Policy and Political Economy

Winner: Rubia Valente

Honorable Mentions: Dohyeong Kim, Donald Hicks, Jonas Bunte, Simon Fass

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Rubia Valente

"Dr. Valente is brimming with knowledge on all types of social issues, from poverty to environmental justice to women's rights. Her World Resources and Development class explored the discrepancies between developing and developed nations, and her experience living in both types of nations made the class unbiased and fresh. During class discussions, she listened to everyone openly and kindly, and she encouraged her students to think outside of the box. In addition, every time I visited her office, she was very warm and welcoming, and gave me invaluable guidance regarding career choices, and my education. She is very well deserving of this award."

"Her passion for teaching and for helping students succeed is truly inspirational. She made a very complicated subject into something so interesting and fun to lean. I looked forward to going to her class. She is the best teacher I've had. "

"Ms. Valente is very passionate and driven about what she teaches. She really inspired me to act more and do more for the things I believe in."

"Dr. Valente is an amazing professor. She actually went out of her way to learn our names... before the first class of our semester even started. She cared that much about seeing us participate and succeed. She also put her textbooks on reserve in the library, and made other steps to make sure all of her students had access to the materials of the class. She answered all questions thoroughly, knew her subject well, and never gave any reason to believe her students' input did not matter. I would definitely take a class with her again."

"I generally despise any type of math course, but Dr. Valente worked exclusively with me in order that I understand the material. Now, I am looking towards graduate school because of her excellent preparation."

"Great professor! Helped me understand statistics as well as stata. I'm not a big math person, but did very well based on her teaching methods."

"I am thrilled at the opportunity to nominate Professor Valente. I entered her world resources and development class with knowledge of the problems that less-developed countries are facing, but after taking her class, I realized the little that I knew. She used an array of compelling yet comprehensive presentations, and included videos of real life disasters happening currently. Professor Valente always seemed passionate about every subject presented, and she transmitted that feeling. Every Tuesdays and Thursdays, I left her class thinking about all I'd learned. I even shared the information with coworkers and family. Professor Valente is among the many great professors I had the opportunity to meet. I wish her the best in her future endeavor."

"She was an outstanding and inspiring teacher."

"Dr. Valente impressed me very much with her style of teaching, right from day one. She knows all her students by name & personally takes interest in their learning & is concerned about their performances as well. She always comes to class prepared, has a lesson plan & she accomplishes all that she has planned for the day. She is so concern about student performance that she always reminds of deadlines for submission of papers, and is constantly available for consultations in her office and just about anywhere you meet her; she is always ready to help."

"I have had good teachers before, but there has never been a teacher in my life that was more inspiring and life changing than Dr. Valente. Her course changed my entire perception of the world in which we live, and her ability to foster critical thinking about complex social issues is unmatched. I wish I could take more classes with Dr. Valente in the future, and there is no one in this school more deserving of this award."

"Absolutely amazing professor. She motivated me to do my best, she was very approachable and she inspierd me on many ocasions to learn more outside of class about different subjects."

"When I enrolled to Intro. to Social Statistics, I wasn't enthusiastic to take another statistics course. I had a feeling I would struggle with the course material and the Stata software, however, Dr. Valente made the material fairly easy to understand. Thanks to Dr. Valente, I'm now fairly confident of using Stata and perhaps even enroll in an advanced statistics course for graduate school. In my opinion, Dr. Valente is an outstanding teacher!"

"Dr. Valente inspired me through her passion for teaching and for political science. She made herself available to her students for anything from recommendation letters to out of class discussion of in class material. I learned so much from Dr. Valente, and went into class every week excited for our next debates and discussions."

"Dr. Valente provided one of the most enjoyable and fulfilling learning experiences during my enrollment at UTD. The genuine passion she demonstrated on a daily basis made her lecturers memorable. She continually encouraged class discussion about topics seldom touched upon in other coursework. I felt comfortable expressing my views on various issues while considering other points of view expressed by fellow classmates. Dr. Valente is an invaluable resource of knowledge and experience for The University of Texas at Dallas and I sincerely hope she receives The Comet Award, she deserves it."

"I am horrible at statistics and it is beyond difficult for me to understand. If it was not for this professor I would probably be failing it by now. I am grateful for her and her teaching ways. Dr. Valente breaks it down to where anyone in the class will understand it, is okay with questions, and will not proceed until everyone gets it. Dr. Valente is very patient and never complains and is always smiling no matter what."

"Great math teacher!"

"She is an excellent professor that kept that class engaged and delivered the material in an effective manner. I truly enjoyed her class and have applied what I have learned from her class into my professional career."

"Dr. Valente is by far an amazing professor who shows a great deal of passion in her work. Her classroom was insightful and profound. Anyone who takes a class taught by her will surely leave with a new depth of understanding global circumstances."

"Her class ultimately inspired me to apply to the Peace Corps, with whom I will be working with in Morocco for 2 years in youth development."

"Professor Valente is excellent! She makes the concepts very clear and easy to understand, and she always has useful applications and examples of the use of the concepts. I did not think that I would enjoy a math or statistics class, but she made it very simple and even enjoyable to practice. She was also really helpful; she would go the above and beyond to be available to help students, and is one of the few professors that I have had to actually make an effort to utilize class resources communicate with students frequently and provide useful course materials. I really appreciated her as a professor at the University."

"Dr. Valente is one of the most caring professors I have had the privilege of meeting through my undergraduate career here at UTD. She always goes out of her way to assist students in their educational endeavors in any way that she can. Not only are her classes extremely interactive and intellectually stimulating, she also teaches the material in a way that it truly resonates with her students long after the class has ended."

"Dr. Valente is ridiculous. Above and beyond does not begin to describe the efforts that this educator employs to make sure her students succeed. I occasionally get frustrated with Professors that succumb to hand-holding, but it was almost as if Dr. Valente took the time to understand what each individual student needed to succeed. You could always see these wheels turning, but Dr. Valente does this as though it is a bare minimum while managing to teach complex concepts to those students interested, while still paying close attention to students whose strengths lie in other areas. She would stop to help them, but the flow of class would never cease. She was always excited, in and out of class, to discuss course concepts, to build on what we have learned, to hear about our experiences, and she was always always always smiling the happiest smile while she did it. I am not a math person and I received an excellent grade in a class I never would have expected to be inspired by....I expected to cry....a lot. Kind of impossible when Dr. Valente is around."

"Dr Rubia Valente was one of the most passionate professors I've ever had. She consistently brought up opportunities for us to get involved outside of the classroom as well, and was obviously very eager to see her students succeed. Overall, she was an amazing professor whose passion got me involved in a number of projects I never thought I'd be interested in before."

"Dr. Valente is an excellent teacher and mentor. Not only does she create lesson plans that are easily understandable for every type of learner, but she goes above and beyond to ensure that every student feels that they are firmly grasping the course concepts. Additionally, her office is always open to students for advice on academia and career paths. She has been instrumental in my professional development and discussions with her have helped me realize my passion for international development."

"She is excellent in teaching and very professional,and respectful to students in her class. She is the only the best professor l know in UTDALLAS."

"I took Statistics over the summer and had a terrible teacher and didn't learn anything. I took it again with Professor Valente and have learned more then I could have imagined and things in statistics that I will use after graduation."

"Dr. Valente is an outstanding professor who cares for her students. I came into statistics not knowing anything about the topic, I should also mention I'm really not good at math, Dr. Valente worked with me until I understood the material fully."

"I have plenty of reason to nominate such an amazing professor like Mrs. Rubia Valente. When I started my class with her she stated not to worry about her class if I just attend classes everyday do the labs, homework and read the lessons, I should do good in her class. Give all the tool to be successful in her class. She is a type of professor that is not satisfied until she makes sure her students get out of her class with a great understanding of the material she teaches in class. She is available for her students at all times and is ready to answer any questions her students have. Her personality is amazing strict but yet friendly too. My overall satisfaction with Mrs. Rubia Valente is a 10 from scale 1-10. She is a super awesome instructor. "

"She's is one of the best teachers I've had at UTD she genuinely cares about her students and wants them to truly understand the material. She goes the extra step to makes sure her students are successful which is a lot more than other professors at UTD have done for me."

"My reasons for nominating Dr. Valente are many, however, I will do my best to explain those reasons. First of all, I spent several years in the United States Marine Corps and have participated in Iraq war campaigns. I now have a successful career in law enforcement. Therefore, I have seen some of the best leaders in the world and I proudly place Dr. Valente in the same catagory for the exception that she is much more nicer and extremely helpful with tons of patience. As a student and as a professional, I have seen her dedication and diligence to the academic success of the student. I have never been good at mathematics and I was very intimidated by the fact that it was the last semester to take statistics. I knew I had to do it, so I signed up for it in the evening because that is the only time I have available to attend school. My first day of class, Dr. Valente asked us to introduce ourselves and the first thing I stated to her was that I was not good at math. Dr. Valente made me feel very at ease by assuring me that as long as I would show up to class everyday and put my 100%, I would pass. Those words gave me the encouragement and motivation to keep me going forward. Make no mistake, this class is very hard but she is always available to help us before, during, and after class. Her dedication is more than what I have seen in a long time. I can always e-mail her and text her at reasonable hours and she is always available to answer question that I much need an answer to. I do not get special treatment, all other students have the same privilege as me and we all use them to get the much needed help. She grades hard but very fair across the board. If you do not do the homework, the required reading, the required labs, the required effort and last but not least showing up to class you will not pass and will figure out very quickly that you will get a failing grade. Dr. Valente will stop and answer any questions you need even during the lesson. She will make sure you understand the material before moving forward. In a nut shell, Dr. Valente is very helpful, kind, intelligent, subject matter expert as well. Dr. Valente is a perfect example of what an instructor should be like. I hope she can be nominated as an outstanding teacher. I have seen great teachers there but by far she is a superior instructor. Thanks to Dr. Valente's dedication and mine of course, I have an A+ in a class that I did not think I would succeed like I'm doing now. I hope that you can take my observation into consideration."

"Dr. Valente is a wonderful professor and mentor who goes above and beyond to help her students. In her class, I was in awe of all of the knowledge she possesses and the great way she presented it. Whenever I visited her office hours, she made me feel welcome and gave me helpful advice many times. She is more than deserving of this award."

"Dr. Valente is patient, caring, and always concerned with her students learning the material. She's very understanding and goes the extra mile to ensure all her students are well informed with the information all while making the course challenging. I thought I would hate statistics, however Dr. Valente makes this course bearable and gets to the point with the information. I haven't taken an actual lecture math class in years and thought I would struggle so much however Dr. Valente corrects our errors and let's us know what assignments we completed incorrectly. She's a wonderful person and and outstanding educator deserving of this award."

"Math has always been an extremely difficult study for me; an area in which I was by default discouraged. Dr. Rubia V. is such a wonderful instructor, she teaches in a way that makes me feel less anxious. Any issue I may have, I can always go to her and she will take her time to make sure I understand with a genuine care about my academic success in her class. Her math class is actually the first class where I don't need to "zone out mentally", as I can successfully follow along."


Winner: Bobby Alexander

Honorable Mentions: Kara Sutton, Sheryl Skaggs

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