UTEP Communication Professor Receives Teaching Award

Stacey Sowards, Ph.D., associate professor of communication at The University of Texas at El Paso, is the recipient of the 2013 Distinguished Teaching Award from the Western States Communication Association (WSCA).

The award recognizes individual faculty for teaching that rises above and beyond the craft of teaching to a sustained performance of excellence in pedagogy. Recipients incite intellectual curiosity in students, can inspire departmental colleagues, and make students aware of significant relationships between their education and the world at large.

“Receiving the Western States Communication Association Distinguished Teaching Award is a great honor,” said Sowards, who was recognized at the WSCA convention on Feb. 18.  “I am humbled to receive such an award, as it is usually awarded to those who have had a long and distinguished teaching career. I have been teaching since 2001, so a relatively short period of time compared to my communication colleagues.”

Sowards has been a member of the UTEP faculty since 2004 and serves as the graduate program adviser for the Department of Communication. She also is the project director for the academic and research partnership between UTEP and the University of Mulawarman on the island of Borneo in Indonesia. The project is funded by a three-year grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), which also funds the Indonesia Study Abroad Program at UTEP.

Since 2008, Sowards has been involved in the master's degree program in communication for conservationists that is offered through UTEP in partnership with Rare, an international nonprofit environmental group. Each year, Sowards travels to the Bogor Agricultural Institute in Indonesia to check on the conservation campaign efforts of graduate students.

College of Liberal Arts Dean Patricia Witherspoon, Ph.D., said Sowards is an excellent choice for the award and her selection reflects well on the Department of Communication and the University.

“This teaching award goes to faculty who have an outstanding teaching reputation beyond their own campuses,” Witherspoon said. “Recipients tend to be well-known scholars as well as great teachers, at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.”  

Sowards also serves as the president of the Organization for Research on Women and Communication and is a member of the board of directors for the International Environmental Communication Association.

The WSCA is a nonprofit organization whose purpose is to unite people in the Western States who have an academic, lay or professional interest in communication and who want to promote their mutual educational interests.
Information: Stacey Sowards, 915-747-8854