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Texas State University

Presidential Award Winners 2021

Presidential Awards for Excellence in Teaching

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Professor/Associate Professor

Michael Devlin
School of Journalism and Mass Communication

Michael Devlin, an associate professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, joined the faculty at Texas State University in 2016.  He earned his doctoral degree from the University of Alabama in 2013. He serves as the advisor for the School of Journalism and Mass Communication’s national award-winning National Student Advertising Competition team.  Dr. Devlin’s work has been recognized by his peers, having received the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) Advertising Division’s Early Career Teaching Excellence Award, as well as the Emerging Scholar Award from the National Communication Association and Most Promising Professor Award Runner Up from AEJMC.  He offers experiential learning opportunities in each of his classes and prepares his students for life after graduation by encouraging them to rely less on rubrics, and instead, engage in problem defining and taking creative risks to solve real-world challenges.

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Assistant Professor

Nicole Wagner
Department of Agricultural Sciences

Nicole Wagner became an assistant professor in the Department of Agricultural Sciences in 2018, after joining the department as a senior lecturer in 2016.  She earned her doctorate from Montana State University with a focus on precision agriculture.  Since 2018, she has served as graduate program coordinator for the Master of Science program in integrated agricultural sciences.  Dr. Wagner has received two College of Applied Arts teaching awards and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Kika de la Garza Fellowship.  She has been a co-principal or principal investigator on seven grants totaling over $1.4 million, including two USDA Hispanic Serving Institution Education grants that provided 27 scholarships to her students in agriculture.  Dr. Wagner’s research focuses on controlled environment agriculture, compost science, and soil health.  Since 2016, she has the been the advisor for 11 graduate students and 41 undergraduate researchers and interns.

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Senior Lecturer/Lecturer

Brian Cooper
Department of Geography

Brian Cooper, a senior lecturer in the Department of Geography, joined the faculty at Texas State University in 2007. He earned his doctorate in Geographic Education from Texas State in 2012. Since June, 2016, Dr. Cooper has served as undergraduate program coordinator for the Department of Geography, leading the department through updates to course offerings and curriculum changes, as well as providing information to students regarding the department’s major and minor programs.  He has taught over 14,000 students in six different geography courses.  He has been invited to give numerous presentations to student organizations such as the Model Arab League and the International Studies Club.  He has also been recognized for his teaching several times by Alpha Chi and the College of Liberal Arts and in 2011, was named International Studies Professor of the Year by the Center for International Studies at Texas State.


Presidential Awards for Excellence in Scholarly/Creative Activities

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Professor/Associate Professor

Cyrus Cassells III
Department of English

Cyrus Cassells III, a professor in the Department of English, is the author of eight books of poetry (six published and two forthcoming), which have garnered several awards, including the Lannan Literary Award and the Lambda Literary Award.  In 2019, he published a book of translations of Catalan poet Francesc Parcerisas. He is a Pulitzer-Prize nominated cultural critic for The Washington Spectator. Mr. Cassells has been a faculty member at Texas State University for 21 years.  January, 2017, marked the 30th anniversary of his teaching career at the college level.  He is currently a Guggenheim Fellow in Poetry, and has received the Texas State Poet Laureate designation.

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Lecturer/Assistant Professor

Sean Justice
School of Art and Design

Sean Justice, an assistant professor in the School of Art and Design, holds a doctorate in Art and Art Education from Teachers College, Columbia University, where he taught digital fabrication, physical computing, creative coding, and photography, to pre- and in-service teachers from across the curriculum. While at Teachers College he designed and directed the Myers Media Art Studio, a center for exploratory art and technology focused on the materiality of new media art.  Prior to Teachers College he taught art, writing, and technology at high schools, art schools, and universities, primarily concentrating on photography and fine art printing.  Dr. Justice’s teaching and research address teacher education in the age of digital networks, the maker movement, and Material Inquiry pedagogy.  He has exhibited photographs, videos, and computer animations both nationally and internationally.  Dr. Justice’s book, Learning to Teach in the Digital Age: New Materialities and Maker Paradigms in Schools, was published by Peter Lang, in 2016.


Presidential Awards for Excellence in Service

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Professor/Associate Professor

Duane Knudson
Department of Health and Human Performance

Duane Knudson, Regents’ Professor in the Department of Health and Human Performance, earned a doctorate in biomechanics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  Dr. Knudson has established a sustained and influential record of university, professional, and community service beginning as an undergraduate student.  A hallmark of this service has been his leadership in advancing organizational effectiveness and implementing new initiatives.  He has received national and international awards for his service in biomechanics and kinesiology disciplines and received the American Kinesiology Association (AKA) Distinguished Leadership Award.  Since coming to Texas State University in 2009, he served as department chair for 10 years, associate dean for five years, and on over a dozen university committees.  Currently he is president of the International Society of Biomechanics in Sports and on the editorial board of three journals.  Nationally he has served as president of the AKA, as chair of the Biomechanics Academy, and on a Technical Review Panel for future Classification of Instructional Program (CIP) code revision (CIP2020) by the National Center for Education Statistics.  In Texas, he has held several leadership roles and currently serves on the Kinesiology Field of Study Committee for the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

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Assistant Professor/Lecturer

Joshua Daspit
Department of Management

Joshua Daspit, an assistant professor in the Department of Management, earned a doctorate in management from the University of North Texas in 2012.  Dr. Daspit is leading the SCALEUP initiative at Texas State University, which is a program focused on helping minority business owners increase the scale and impact of their businesses.  Dr. Daspit also serves as associate editor of the Journal of Family Business Strategy and Family Business Review, is a member of the editorial board for seven academic journals, is on the organizing committee of a premier international conference dedicated to family business research, is the co-advisor for the university’s award-winning Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization student group, and serves Texas State and the local community in many other ways.  In each of his service activities, he aims to deliver meaningful impact while advancing the study and practice of entrepreneurship.


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Presidential Seminar Award

Sarah Fritts
Department of Biology

Dr. Sarah Fritts is an assistant professor in the Department of Biology at Texas State University.  She earned her Ph.D. from North Carolina State University in 2014.  Dr. Fritts is an expert in climate change, wildlife ecology, and biostatistics.  She is a Certified Wildlife Biologist and was a fellow of The Wildlife Society Leadership Institute in 2015.  Sarah is currently involved in projects focused on Galliformes, passerines, bats, primates, fishes, reptiles, and amphibians and has been awarded over $2 million in grants.  Recently she was awarded a $500,000 grant from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to conduct an acoustic survey of bats in Texas in order to prepare a response to the deadly white-nose syndrome that is devastating bat populations.  Dr. Fritts currently is a mentor and committee member for many students who are pursuing their research degrees at Texas State.


Previous Presidential Award Recipients