RICHARDSON, Texas (April 14, 2005) – Dr. Robert S. Nelsen, the popular head of the creative writing program at The University of Texas at Dallas (UTD), has been selected teacher of the year at the university for the 2004-2005 academic year.
The award, which is provided each year by The University of Texas System Chancellor’s Council to recognize excellence in teaching at each of the system’s nine general academic institutions, is accompanied by a $5,000 prize and will be presented to Nelsen the evening of Friday, May 6, at an Honors Convocation in the Activity Center on the UTD campus. Nelsen will deliver a brief speech at the ceremony.
Nelsen, who joined UTD in 1990 and is an associate professor of literary studies in the School of Arts & Humanities, was selected from more than 90 tenured or tenure-track faculty members who were nominated by students for the honor, which is formally called the Chancellor’s Council Outstanding Teaching Award.
“Dr. Nelsen is a teacher who can do as well as teach. By that, I mean he is a magnificent writer as well as a gifted mentor to his students,” said UTD President Dr. Franklyn Jenifer. “And he is dedicated and passionate about both.”
One UTD student who nominated Nelsen for the award praised the professor for the way he “teaches techniques that can be adopted by students in their own individuality,” and another wrote: “I thoroughly enjoyed his class – (I) learned so much more about what I could do when I stepped outside the box, even for a little while.” A third student said Nelsen’s class was the “most inspirational class I have ever taken,” and a fourth said of the professor, “His passion for art and teaching is evident every day.”
In a letter of support for Nelsen, Dr. Dennis Kratz, dean of the School of Arts & Humanities, wrote, “I know of no instructor at UTD who is more dedicated to students, more willing to teach whatever is needed, or more effective in a wide range of situations than Robert Nelsen.”
Nelsen said he was “more than a little blown away” by being selected for the award and added, “Teaching itself is an honor and a privilege, especially teaching the students at UTD. Each semester they have forced me to be a better teacher as I have struggled to keep up with them. They deserve the award more than I do.”
Nelsen also serves as Speaker of the Faculty at UTD and is a member of the executive committee of The University of Texas System’s Faculty Advisory Council to the Chancellor and Board of Regents. He received his Ph.D. from the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago. His dissertation was on Reality, Idealism, Exaggeration and Epiphanies in Short Stories.
Before joining UTD, Nelsen taught for two years at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Nelsen, has published extensively during his nearly 20-year academic career. His work has appeared in such journals as StoryQuarterly, Other Voices, Chariton Review and Southwest Review. He has just finished a novel, Spirits Colliding. Nelsen wrote his first story, A White Horse, at age five. From 1992 to 1999, he served as executive editor of Common Knowledge, an interdisciplinary journal published by Oxford University Press.
The University of Texas at Dallas, located at the convergence of Richardson, Plano and Dallas in the heart of the complex of major multinational technology corporations known as the Telecom Corridor, enrolls more than 14,000 students. The school’s freshman class traditionally stands at the forefront of Texas state universities in terms of average SAT scores. The university offers a broad assortment of bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs. For additional information about UTD, please visit the university’s web site at www.utdallas.edu.