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Graduate School honors faculty and staff

Four University of Texas at Austin faculty and staff were honored by the Graduate School for their contributions to excellence in graduate education in May.

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Four University of Texas at Austin faculty and staff were honored by the Graduate School for their contributions to excellence in graduate education in May.

Hank Dittmar, who received a master’s degree in Community and Regional Planning in 1980, is the recipient of the 2008 Outstanding Graduate Alumnus Award. The Outstanding Graduate Teaching Award winner is Dr. Anthony Woodbury, professor of Linguistics, and the Outstanding Graduate Adviser Award recipient is Dr. Wayne Lesser, associate professor of English. All three received their awards at the Graduate School’s Doctoral Convocation Ceremony on May 17.

The Outstanding Alumnus or Alumna Award recognizes Graduate School alumni for outstanding achievements in academic or professional careers. A $5,000 fellowship in the name of the Outstanding Alum is awarded to a graduate student in the program from which the alum graduated. This year, the Hank Dittmar Fellowship has been awarded to Leah Hollstein, a doctoral student in Community and Regional Planning.

Dittmar is Chief Executive of The Prince’s Foundation for the Built Environment, an educational charity established by the Prince of Wales to teach timeless and ecological building design. As an international leader in urban planning, transportation systems management, and sustainable development, Dittmar has served on important national and international committees. He is the recipient of numerous awards and the author of The New Transit Town: Best Practices in Transit-Oriented Development.

The Outstanding Graduate Teaching Award honors faculty members for outstanding teaching at the graduate level and for excellence in mentoring of graduate students. An award of $4,000 is presented to the recipient.

Woodbury is being recognized with the Teaching Award for his extraordinary work in and out of the classroom as a specialist on the documentation and preservation of endangered languages. His research on indigenous populations in Alaska and Mexico is effectively integrated with his teaching, which receives tremendous praise from his students. In an innovative program that serves faculty and students alike, Woodbury has recruited native speakers of indigenous languages to enroll as graduate students at UT Austin. Woodbury’s teaching also extends into Alaskan and Mexican communities as he advocates for the documentation and research of these little-known languages.

The Outstanding Graduate Adviser Award recognizes a graduate adviser for exemplary service to a graduate program, and the award includes a $4,000 prize. Lesser, as this year’s winner, was singled out for his role in recruiting and retaining high quality graduate students, his sensitivity to students’ needs, and his commitment to their professional and academic development. As an adviser or a large program, serving more than 150 graduate students, he was also commended for his effective administration and his ability to work with colleagues across campus to resolve problems as well as create new programs.

The Outstanding Graduate Coordinator Award recognizes a graduate coordinator for distinguished service in support of the Graduate Adviser and other faculty in the administration of a graduate program. An award of $4,000 will be presented to Porter. Commended by her nominators for her attention to details, her caring attitude toward students, and her fountain of constructive ideas, Porter is recognized with this award because of her outstanding work in providing an innovative infrastructure to assist students in the Sociology graduate program.