The Texas A&M Association of Former Students (AFS) has recognized two Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM) faculty members as recipients of 2019 college-level Distinguished Achievement Awards in Teaching.
Dr. Cheryl Herman, a clinical associate professor in the Department of Veterinary Integrative Biosciences (VIBS), and Dr. James Derr, a professor in the Department of Veterinary Pathobiology (VTPB), were honored during the CVM Holiday Celebration on Dec. 17.
Herman, who was also honored with a AFS University-level Distinguished Achievement Award for teaching last spring, was nominated by third-year veterinary student Rori Rupp, who has personally benefitted from her teaching expertise.
“(Dr. Herman) has made the biggest impact in my veterinary education as a professor,” Rupp said. “Her willingness to go above and beyond for one student has forever shaped my experience in veterinary school.”
Rupp described Herman’s dedication to providing any needed help for her students, including one-on-one support and personalized study advice, as encouraging and extremely worthwhile.
“Working with Dr. Herman has given me the confidence that I can be successful even in my worst subjects,” Rupp said. “Dr. Herman believed in me and put in extra work so that I could be successful in her class. The success that I had will forever stay with me when I am having difficulties in school and in medicine. I have never had a professor so invested in my learning.”
As an instructor of anatomy, Herman provides veterinary students with some of the most fundamental knowledge they will learn at the CVM. She is “extremely approachable and understanding” and shows “pervasive caring for individual students,” Rupp said.
Derr, who teaches biomedical and mammalian genetics courses and leads a study abroad course in South Africa, was nominated by three fellow faculty members and two former students.
“In my four decades serving on the faculty at Texas A&M, I have not seen another professor successfully bring innovation to their undergraduate teaching in so many different ways,” said Dr. James Womack, a Distinguished Senior Professor. “Jim has consistently put extraordinary effort into his courses, and he continues to have major impact on the lives of our students every day.”
Each year, Derr and professor Dr. Linda Logan travel to Africa with 14 students to provide once-in-a-lifetime, hands-on experiences and a unique opportunity to learn about and interact with wild animals.
“Dr. Derr keeps the students excited and motivated the whole time,” Logan said. “Jim had the unique idea to make this a fusion class with both undergraduate and veterinary students. I have been privileged to witness the impact on these young people’s lives that Jim’s teaching and dedication creates. I have seen a transformation in the career paths of many of these undergraduates because of this experience.”
Second-year veterinary student Kamryn Pursell enjoyed learning from Derr both in his mammalian genetics class and the study abroad trip to South Africa.
“Dr. Derr’s own passion for genetics is contagious and augmented my learning enormously,” Pursell said. “His greatest attribute is his passion for teaching students, and his mammalian genetics course is the perfect outlet. In both mammalian genetics and South Africa, he encouraged students to delve deeper into their interests. He makes students feel comfortable and confident in their ability to learn.”
Herman and Derr were each presented with framed certificates and $2,000 gifts by Dr. Eleanor M. Green, the Carl B. King Dean of Veterinary Medicine at Texas A&M, and Kathryn Greenwade, vice president of communications & human resources at the AFS.