Today, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) named Dr. Collin Thomas the 2014 Texas Professor of the Year at a ceremony at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. This honor marks the seventh Carnegie Professor of the Year from Collin College, and the college’s third Texas Professor of the Year in a row.
“Dr. Thomas is a great example of the outstanding professors teaching our students, and we are thrilled for him,” said Mac Hendricks, chair of the college’s board of trustees. “It is unprecedented to have seven winners from one college.”
The win is a shared victory for two local institutions of higher education.
“I nominated Dr. Thomas for the award based on his service at Collin College, but we are celebrating this win with the University of Texas at Dallas because they lured Dr. Thomas away this fall. We have a strong partnership with UT Dallas, and we couldn’t be happier to celebrate his honor together,” said Cary A. Israel, district president of Collin College. “It was terrific to have Dr. Thomas on our faculty for nine years, and we are very proud of him.”
At UT Dallas, Thomas is a principal research scientist with the office of technology commercialization. His role is to assess research projects in progress and work with researchers—both students and faculty--to help them move toward commercialization. Biotech is an area of priority in his work.
“We’re very pleased for Dr. Thomas and for Collin College,” said UT Dallas president David E. Daniel. “All of our state’s higher education institutions are engaged in an effort to bring students the best opportunities to learn and achieve new findings in their work. Dr. Thomas has shown that he can be a great teacher in both the classroom and the lab.”
Thomas was a biology professor at Collin College. He was very active in Collin College’s Center for Advanced Study in Mathematics and Natural Science. He is a patent-holder and has published numerous papers in well-known scientific journals including "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences," "Plant Cell," "Biotechniques," and "Plant Molecular Biology."
He received a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology and B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin. A postdoctoral fellow in cellular biophysics at Rockefeller University, he served as a senior research associate at UT Southwestern Medical School. He is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and the scientific research society Sigma Xi, and he was awarded graduate fellowships with the National Science Foundation and UT Austin in addition to earning the National Institutes of Health National Research Service Award.
“I am very grateful,” Thomas said. “However, I must admit the recognition belongs to my students and fellow faculty. They are an intelligent and optimistic lot who have taught and given me much. If there is anything in this award of my own merit, it is a paltry piece next to that of my friends and the community at Collin College.”
The Professor of the Year program, now in its 34rd year, is the only national initiative that focuses solely on excellent undergraduate teaching and mentoring.
Collin College has had four Texas and three U.S. Professors of the Year with three state winners back-to-back. That is a feat unmatched by any college or university in the state of Texas.
- 2014: Texas Professor of the Year Dr. Collin Thomas (biology)
- 2013: Texas Professor of the Year Ceilidh Charleson-Jennings (communication studies)
- 2012: Texas Professor of the Year Dr. Greg Sherman (physics)
- 2009: U.S. Professor of the Year Dr. Tracey McKenzie (sociology)
- 2007: U.S. Professor of the Year Dr. Rosemary Karr (math)
- 2006: Texas Professor of the Year Jennifer O’Loughlin-Brooks, (psychology)
- 2000: U.S. Professor of the Year Brad Baker (theater)