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Geography faculty earn Distinguished Teaching Achievement Awards

Date of Release: 06/19/2006

SAN MARCOS—The Department of Geography at Texas State University-San Marcos prides itself on the teaching ability of its faculty, so when a professor is honored with the National Council for Geographic Education’s Distinguished Teaching Award, it’s viewed as a reflection on the department as a whole.

When two professors are honored in the same year — out of eight total awards nationwide — that’s the signal for everyone else to sit up and take notice.

Brock Brown and Richard Dixon, both associate professors in the Department of Geography, have been selected for NCGE Distinguished Teaching Awards for 2006, which recognize outstanding contributions to geographic education. They will be honored during the 2006 NCGE annual meeting this October.

Currently, Brown manages the “Step Up to Geography” distance-learning program, which serves approximately 15 K-12 teachers and others pursuing graduate course work, and is also directing a program focused on Africa for the DC Geographic Alliance this summer. For Brown, the NCGE award comes on the heels of his winning the 2006 Foundations of Excellence Teaching Award, an honor bestowed by students.

“This is a reaffirmation that our faculty and department is really dedicated to our teaching mission” said Brown. “I try to teach my students to observe, analyze and be problem solvers. We don’t even know what those problems may be, but I still try to prepare them to confront and face the problems they may encounter later in life.

“I hope they take their tenure on this planet and leave it a better place, passing it on to the next generation,” he said. “A huge vita with lots of publications is great, but our greatest success as teachers is preparing the next generation to confront the unknown.”

Dixon’s primary research field is climatology and its relationship to natural hazards. From 2003-2005, he was director of Texas State’s James and Marilyn Lovell Center for Environmental Geography and Hazards Research. Since 2005, he has been the Center’s associate director. He has twice received the Outstanding Professor Award in the Department of Geography from the Graduate Student Forum, in 2004 and 2006.

“I’m very proud to be cited by my peers and am very grateful to my students and faculty members who wrote and seconded my nomination,” said Dixon. “It makes me very proud to be teaching here at Texas State, which has such a long tradition of teaching excellence.

“I love to teach, and I love to do research. The ability to bring what I learn by doing research into the classroom is what it makes it so special to be here,” he said. “In my humble opinion, I have the best of both worlds.”

The NCGE College/University and K-12 Distinguished Teaching Achievement Awards recognize outstanding geography teaching in the colleges, universities and schools of the United States and Canada, including U.S. Department of Defense schools abroad. For more information, please visit