The University of Texas at Austin
  • Top-notch teaching adds up

    By Tim Green
    Published: April 4, 2012

    James Vick, professor and administrator in his 42 years at The University of Texas at Austin, is the winner of the 2012 Friar Centennial Teaching Fellowship, one of the highest prizes for teaching on campus.

    Student Government President Natalie Butler and Professor James Vick
    Student Government President Natalie Butler surprises Professor James Vick with his $25,000 check. Photo: Marsha Miller

    The $25,000 award, presented by the 101-year-old Friar Society, is for one year and goes to a full-time, tenured or tenure-track undergraduate professor.

    The fellowship is the largest award for undergraduate teaching excellence at the university.

    Vick was teaching about the chain rule to his Calculus II class of about 125 students when members of the Longhorn Band playing “Texas Fight” marched into the room. They were followed by Friar Society members, several previous Friar Award winners and friends and colleagues of Vick.

    Natalie Butler, student government president and Friar Society member, presented Vick with an oversized check for $25,000.

    She said Vick was the easiest selection the Friar Society has made.

    “You are so deserving,” she said. “You’ve given so much to the university.”

    Colleagues, students and friends formed the entourage
    Colleagues, students and friends formed the entourage, including several former Friar awardees, including Michael Stoff (far left) and Michael Starbird (second from left). Photo: Marsha Miller

    “This is a great university,” Vick said. “I’ve taught a lot of good students and worked with a lot of good people. If you’re surrounded by good people who are willing to give to each other and to the university, it turns out to be a great place.”

    Nodding to the students and friends, he said, “You’re the reason I’m here and the reason I’ve enjoyed it so much.”

    The Friar Award reinforces what The Alcalde wrote about Vick in 2004 when he stepped down from his post as vice president for student affairs.

    “Many (students) describe him as a father figure. His willingness to listen to and fight for students has made him perhaps the most beloved administrator. He attends student events religiously, sits in on Student Government meetings and keeps in touch with hundreds of former students.”

    This is the latest in a number of teaching awards won by Vick, the Ashbel Smith Professor and Distinguished Teaching Professor in the Department of Mathematics.

    Professor James Vick
    Vick is a member of the university’s Academy of Distinguished Teachers and a recipient of The University of Texas System Board of Regents Award for undergraduate teaching. Photo: Marsha Miller

    He’s a member of the university’s Academy of Distinguished Teachers and a recipient of The University of Texas System Board of Regents Award for undergraduate teaching.

    There’s even an award named for him: Texas Exes James W. Vick Award for Academic Advising.

    Founded in 1911, the Friar Society is the university’s oldest and most respected honor society. Students across campus nominate their favorite professors for the award, and a committee of Friar Society student members selects the award recipient. Decisions are based on in-class observation and consideration of contributions outside the classroom.

    Vick made his students’ day just a bit sweeter when he ended the ceremony with the words, “Class dismissed.”

    • Quote 2
      Gordon Appleman said on May 1, 2012 at 11:42 p.m.
      They don't come any better than Jim Vick, as a teacher, as a human being, as an administrator, as a mentor to countless students, and any other capacity in which he has ever served. Our University is blessed to have been his choice for his career, and we must do what we can to preserve it as a home for people like Jim Vick.
    • Quote 2
      Moffitt Aycock said on April 24, 2012 at 3:20 p.m.
      How wondeful, Dr. Vick! I can't even spell Kakulis !! Come visit your math-challenged friends in Baton Rouge soon --and bring the little woman too. Love,love, Moffitt
    • Quote 2
      Chris Vaught Padon said on April 8, 2012 at 12:25 p.m.
      Congratulations Dr.Vick! All of us in the University High class of 1960 have known for many years what an all-around great guy you are.
    • Quote 2
      Sue Holzaepfel said on April 8, 2012 at 9:24 a.m.
      Thank you, Friar Society, for honoring such a wonderful person. He is held in high esteem by his colleagues around campus! Congratulations, Dr. Vick!
    • Quote 2
      Amanda Nunez said on April 7, 2012 at 8:49 p.m.
      Congrats Dr. Vick, he's such an amazing professor. I loved having calc with him. I'm so happy he received the award!
    • Quote 2
      Erin Elbel said on April 7, 2012 at 12:13 p.m.
      Dr. Vick was one of the best and most inspiring professors I ever had. Congratulations!
    • Quote 2
      Boone Jardot said on April 6, 2012 at 9:38 a.m.
      Great job Dr. V. It must have been the easiest decision ever made. I still remember your jokes and simple humility and grace throughout the semester. Glad you decided to stick around a bit longer at the university.
    • Quote 2
      Robert Meckel said on April 6, 2012 at 8:30 a.m.
      Congratulations to a deserving recipient of this prestigious award!
    • Quote 2
      Zack Ringgenberg said on April 6, 2012 at 7:55 a.m.
      Dr. Vick studies the student names of each class he teaches. In a class of up to 150, he knows everyone's name by the second day each semester. In his office hours, he regularly sits on the floor to better help the students when it is crowded. I took Calculus for the first time ever in Dr. Vick's class and I passed! He is an amazing, humble, extremely inteligent gentleman.
    • Quote 2
      Cathy Kinsey said on April 6, 2012 at 7:49 a.m.
      Heartfelt congratulations, JV!!! You are so very deserving of this honor and of all the wonderful accolades. (To which I would add 'Best Boss Ever'!) Those of us who have had the priviledge of working with you or of being taught by you are better for it. Thank you for being you!
    • Quote 2
      Britton said on April 5, 2012 at 4:10 p.m.
      And, he's a great poet. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sBFU9NbiFHE
    • Quote 2
      Charlie and Mimi said on April 5, 2012 at 2:36 p.m.
      Jim, Those of us living in the hills of North Carolina also add our congratulations. Anyone that can memorize most or even all of the student names enrolled in one's class before the class begins truly deserves to be honored by that school. We are honored to be your friend.
    • Quote 2
      Conrad Geiger said on April 5, 2012 at 1:56 p.m.
      Congratulations to Dr. Vick! I have known Dr. Vick since I was a work-study student in the UT Math department 40 years ago. This Friar Award just echoes the sentiments of every student who has ever come in contact with Dr. Vick during all of his years at UT.
    • Quote 2
      Dave Sullivan said on April 5, 2012 at 11:41 a.m.
      I worked with Dr. Vick on some student issues while I was in graduate school and he was a VP back in the 20th century. The gentleman is a great asset to this institution!
    • Quote 2
      Summer Roberson said on April 5, 2012 at 11:23 a.m.
      Dr. Vick has touched so many lives over his many years of administration and teaching! He is completely deserving of such an honor. This is one more award to add to his many accomplishments, although most of his accomplishments are former students who have gained so much from him while in school. Thanks for all your time and work in academics and athletics!
    • Quote 2
      Leslie Ernst said on April 5, 2012 at 9:32 a.m.
      Congratulations, Dr V!!! So very well deserved. Thanks so much for the tremendous integrity, grace and humor you've brought to this university.
    • Quote 2
      Mike said on April 5, 2012 at 9:29 a.m.
      His was the first class I took when returning to UT after a long hiatus. I could not have had a better reintroduction to academia.
    • Quote 2
      Lori Smith said on April 5, 2012 at 9:20 a.m.
      What an honor and I completely agree that you could not have selected a more worthy recipient. Dr. Vick has to be one of the most caring and giving people I know and his contributions to Texas academically are endless. Thanks Dr. Vick and Congratulations!
    • Quote 2
      Rudy Ortiz said on April 5, 2012 at 8:49 a.m.
      Dr. Vick is just inspirational to all. He truly is a remarkable mentor, student advocate, staff advocate, faculty advocate, and true representative of UT. UT is blessed to have someone like Dr. Vick. Thank you for all you do for this great University. Congratulations on the 2012 Friar Centennial Teaching Fellowship award!
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