EPPS Professor Receives Piper Honor for Devotion, Dedication to Students
Dr. Denise Paquette Boots, a professor of public policy and political economy at The University of Texas at Dallas, is known to her colleagues and students as a passionate teacher and engaged scholar, and for her commitment to serving the University and the greater community.
In recognition of her dedication, the San Antonio-based Minnie Stevens Piper Foundation has selected Boots as a 2020 Piper Professor, an award that honors the top professors in Texas.
“It was a wonderful surprise to be selected as a Piper Professor. To be recognized with other distinguished educators across the state of Texas is an incredible honor,” said Boots, who is also a senior research fellow with the Institute for Urban Policy Research and the associate dean of undergraduate education in the School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences (EPPS).
The award, established in 1958 to recognize the best college professors in Texas, is made annually to 10 educators to honor their dedication to the teaching profession and for their outstanding academic, scientific and scholarly achievement. Each Piper Professor receives a certificate of merit, a gold pin, a $5,000 honorarium and “forever” signature line designation on their title. Selections are highly competitive and are chosen from nominations across all two- and four-year colleges and universities in the state, each of which puts forward one campus nominee annually.
For the third straight year a UT Dallas professor has received the Piper award. The following is a list of recent recipients.
2015: Dr. John Sibert, associate professor of chemistry
2018: Dr. Theresa Towner, Ashbel Smith Professor of literary studies
2019: Dr. Karen Huxtable-Jester, senior lecturer in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences
2020: Dr. Denise Paquette Boots, professor of public policy and political economy
“The success that Dr. Boots has had in the classroom and in the community made her an incredibly strong candidate for this award. She is famously dedicated to her students and is a fierce advocate for them,” said Dr. Jennifer Holmes, dean of EPPS. “She epitomizes the best of EPPS: a dynamic professor, a champion for our students and a leading policy thinker with broad impact.”
Boots, who joined UT Dallas in 2006, teaches courses in criminology and public policy, covering topics such as family violence, capital punishment and global public health. Her research focuses on interpersonal violence and public policy, including domestic violence, mental health and campus sexual assault. A past program head and faculty member of EPPS’ criminology program, Boots was the lead researcher on the city of Dallas’ Domestic Violence Task Force and is a court-certified expert and trainer on issues related to sexual assault, mental health problems, family violence and child abuse, and parricide.
In 2009 Boots was awarded the UT System Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award, and in 2016 she received a UT Dallas President’s Teaching Excellence Award. She is also the founding president of the UT Dallas chapter of The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi.
Boots received the 2016 Evelyn Gilbert Unsung Hero Award from the Minorities and Women Section of the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences (ACJS) for her contributions to criminal justice education and scholarship concerning ethnicity, race and gender in criminology and criminal justice. In March, she was elected 2nd vice president for ACJS and will serve on the executive board for four years, becoming president in 2022-23.
“The success that Dr. Boots has had in the classroom and in the community made her an incredibly strong candidate for this award. She is famously dedicated to her students and is a fierce advocate for them. She epitomizes the best of EPPS: a dynamic professor, a champion for our students and a leading policy thinker with broad impact.”
Dr. Jennifer Holmes, dean of the School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences
“Dr. Boots’ contributions to UT Dallas and the state of Texas are deep, multifaceted and enduring,” said Dr. Paul Diehl, Ashbel Smith Professor of political science, associate provost, and director of the Center for Teaching and Learning at UT Dallas. “What sets her above other outstanding classroom instructors is the time and care she devotes to her students outside the classroom.”
Supporting Students Beyond Graduation
Boots maintains regular contact with hundreds of UT Dallas alumni as they pursue graduate study and professional careers and has helped many students with personal challenges, Diehl said. She has taken a special interest in mentoring women and minorities as they pursue graduate degrees, as well as careers in criminology, public policy, government service and the nonprofit sector.
“For many faculty, distinguished records in teaching and research are what bring recognition and awards,” Diehl said. “Yet Boots has done more than most as an ‘outstanding citizen’ on campus and beyond its confines.”
Boots said that while students have learned from her, she has also learned much from them over the 14 years she has been at UT Dallas.
“W.B. Yeats said, ‘Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.’ Time and again, I am inspired by our students’ desire to become more informed on problems related to social and restorative justice, as well as how they can support victims and their communities,” Boots said. “My greatest reward is seeing my students do great things and become agents of change.”
Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].