Presidential Professor of Teaching Excellence Award

The Presidential Professor of Teaching Excellence Award is the most prestigious honor bestowed by Texas A&M University and is conferred upon the selected distinguished faculty by President Michael K. Young. The selection criteria reflects the recipient’s accomplishments in advancing knowledge in the classroom. The Presidential Professor for Teaching Excellence designation was created in 2003 to recognize educators in perpetuity for their sustained excellence and fundamental contributions to student advancement in independent thinking, creative imagination, lifetime learning and knowledge based on discovery. The highly-competitive award carries a one-time stipend of $25,000 and the awardee bears the designation for the remainder of their career.

Rick Giardino awarded in 2019

Rick Giardino

Dr. Giardino has been with Texas A&M since 1984 and has been teaching geology and geomorphology for 36 years.  He is a field-orientated geologist who has undertaken research around the world. He has also been involved with K-12 teacher education, the initiator of the immensely popular “G-Camp,” for many years. He is currently professor of geology and geophysics, as well as professor in the water management and hydrological science program at Texas A&M University. He was previously dean of graduate studies in the College of Geosciences for nine years, and prior to that, he served as department head for almost eight years. He is involved in numerous international geological organizations.

His research areas of interest are sedimentological processes associated with glacial, periglacial, and mass-wasting that form and change artic and alpine environments, the flow of water over the surface of the Earth as well as engineering geology.

Recognized by many prestigious distinctions, among them, Dr. Giardino received the 2017 Texas A&M George & Barbara Bush Excellence Award for Faculty in International Teaching, The Association of Former Students Distinguished Teaching Award in 1996, as well as others.  Dr. Giardino has been called an innovative, gifted and ingenious classroom instructor.  He is described as a generous mentor for all students and an innovator in the classroom.  Colleagues and students boast of his deeply reflective care and focus on the high quality instruction as keys to both his success and theirs.

Sarah Bednarz awarded in 2008

Sarah Bednarz

Dr. Bednarz is a Professor Emerita of the Department of Geography after serving on the faculty from 1988 until 2016.  She has been a pioneer in research on the intersection of teaching and learning geospatial technologies and spatial and geographic thinking. Throughout her career, Dr. Bednarz has been a stalwart of the discipline, making significant contributions to both the field and the AAG. She co-chaired the Geography Education Research Committee (GERC) to produce the 21st Century Road Map for 21st Century Geography Education Project. She was also co-coordinator of the Texas Alliance for Geographic Education (1988-2012) and continues to serve as a member of the committee to develop the National Assessment of Educational Performance (NAEP) framework in geography. Most significantly, Dr. Bednarz co-authored the national geography standards, Geography for Life. In recognition of her achievements, Dr. Bednarz received the George J. Miller Award from the National Council for Geographic Education in 2005 and the Gilbert H. Grosvenor Honors for Geographic Education from the Association of American Geographers in 2007 for her research in geographical education. 

Dr. Bednarz’s primary research focuses on the intersections of the learning sciences, geography, the geosciences, and geospatial technologies, with a special focus on spatial and geographic thinking, at a range of educational levels. Her related research interests include environmental and geosciences education, curriculum development, assessment, and professional development for educator preparation. She also served as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs for the College of Geosciences from 2008-2014.