The University of Texas at Austin
  • Anthropology professor wins $25,000 Friar Fellowship

    By Marjorie Smith
    Published: April 14, 2010
    Anthropology
    Dr. Christopher Kirk, left, is congratulated by Samuel Wilson, chair of the Department of Anthropology.Photo: Marsha Miller

    In keeping with tradition, the Friar Society interrupted Dr. Christopher Kirk’s class on Monday to award him the 2010-11 Friar Centennial Teaching Fellowship.

    Students, faculty and staff followed a single trumpeter into the lecture hall to watch as Friar co-chairs, Noble Kuriakose and Zuhair Khan, handed Kirk a check for $25,000. The annual award goes to a full-time, tenured or tenure-track undergraduate professor, and is the largest award for undergraduate teaching excellence at the university.

    “First, let me say I’m not often speechless up here on the stage, but wow,” said Kirk, an associate professor in the Department of Anthropology. “I guess the first thing to say is thank you to the Friar Society. Thank you to everybody who was kind enough to speak out on my behalf, for writing letters. I’m humbled to be in the league of people who win the Friar — it’s just incredible.”

    Kirk was among more than 100 nominations for this year’s fellowship. The Friar Society has been presenting the award since 1983. Thanks to an increase in financial support this year, the Friar Society was able to expand the award from $15,000 to $25,000.

    Kuriakose said Kirk had “stiff competition” this year, but the society was honored to present the award to Dr. Kirk.

    “We were really impressed, everyone on the committee was really impressed, walking into your class to observe it,” said Noble. “This is a small token of appreciation for what you do for students at The University of Texas, and we hope you continue to do the same.”

    Kirk said he believes his teaching success comes from sharing his enthusiasm and passion for physical anthropology.

    “In all honesty, I think that you can get people swept up in the excitement if you love what you do,” Kirk said. “When the course evaluations all say it’s obvious that you love what you do, and it’s obvious that you get excited about what you do, I think that’s when you know you’re on the right track.”

    • Quote 2
      Travis Payne said on April 22, 2010 at 8:18 p.m.
      I am currently in Dr Kirk's ANT301 course and was present when his award was presented. Couldn't have said it better myself. He exhibits a deep passion for Anthropology and makes every lecture exciting and a pleasure to attend. I feel very fortunate to be able to call him my Professor. Congrats!
    • Quote 2
      michelle guzman said on April 21, 2010 at 11:32 p.m.
      i had dr. kirk in my undergrad years, and can certainly vouch! well done, and well deserved!
    • Quote 2
      Katie Sapp said on April 21, 2010 at 8:42 p.m.
      Dr. Kirk is awesome. I took Primate Sensory Ecology with him last year and after that I immediately changed my Major to anthropology. His knowledge and passion truly changed my life and helped me find out what direction I want to take in my education and beyond! Congrats Dr. Kirk! You deserve it.
    • Quote 2
      Maya Rivarola said on April 21, 2010 at 7:30 p.m.
      Professor Kirk inspired me to study Physical Anthropology. Congratulations to a phenomenal professor!
    • Quote 2
      Tatiana Artis said on April 20, 2010 at 11:28 a.m.
      Dr. Kirk is an excellent professor, I had Primate Sensory Ecology with him a few years back, loved the course and retained so much! He always makes time for his students and keeps classes comfortable and fun. His passion for his work is inspiring and great to be around. Congratulations, well deserved!
    • Quote 2
      Jessica Miller said on April 19, 2010 at 10:37 a.m.
      I had Dr. Kirk when I was an undergraduate student. He is by far the best professor I ever had at UT. I sat on the front row of an auditorium style class and never missed a day because each class was more fun than the last. Dr. Kirk loves what he does and it is truly inspiring to be in his class. His passion and enthusiasm are contagious. I cannot think of a more deserving individual. Congrats Dr. Kirk!
    • Quote 2
      Michael Huddleston said on April 16, 2010 at 1:58 p.m.
      This award could not have gone to a more deserving professor. Dr. Kirk is an amazing professor. His passion for the subject is contagious.
    • Quote 2
      Monica Holton said on April 15, 2010 at 10:21 p.m.
      Congratulations to Professor Kirk and all the nominees for the Friar Award!
    • Quote 2
      Leslie Ashley said on April 15, 2010 at 8:42 p.m.
      My son was in your class when you were awarded this prize. He texted me immediately! Congratulations and I am so glad my son was fortunate to be one of your students.
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