Story by Madeline Patton
The Texas A&M Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE) awarded two Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM) faculty members with the inaugural Provost Academic Professional Track Teaching Excellence Awards.
Dr. Virginia Fajt, clinical professor, and Dr. Shannon Washburn, clinical associate professor, both from the CVM’s Department of Veterinary Physiology and Pharmacology (VTPP), were recognized during an award luncheon on Feb. 27.
This new award honors 10 Academic Professional Track (APT) faculty who give students meaningful educational experiences through effective teaching methods and celebrate those who value student-centered learning.
The Provost APT Faculty Teaching Excellence scholars will receive a $5,000 cash stipend gifted by the Marie M. and James H. Galloway Foundation.
“I am honored to be one of two awardees from our college,” Fajt said. “I am excited that Texas A&M is specifically acknowledging the major contributions of professional track faculty on this campus.”
“It is gratifying to get good reviews of my teaching, to hear how helpful my methods were in helping the students understand difficult concepts, or to receive notice that a paper has been accepted for publication,” Washburn said. “I am proud of the progress I have made in these areas, and I am proud to receive this award recognizing my efforts.
“Knowing that the work I do and the relationships I foster have a positive impact not only on individual people but also the profession I love is the most rewarding aspect of my job,” Washburn said.
Dr. Virginia Fajt
Fajt joined the CVM faculty in 2005 and has continued to fulfill a key role in research and understanding of the function of pharmaceutical use in the food animal industry, both in the classroom and in the laboratory.
“The level of professionalism and educational expertise that Dr. Fajt brings to her teaching and leadership activities at Texas A&M University are extraordinary and carry over into every aspect of her professional life,” Dr. Fajt’s nominator said.
One of the projects Fajt has been a part of is a three-year, multi-institutional research project that includes researchers from Texas A&M and Cornell University. Fajt and other leaders in the field of veterinary medicine education have worked to develop a comprehensive online collection of educational resources on antimicrobial resistance. These resources would be made available to veterinary education programs across the country, as well as under-represented student populations within the Texas A&M System.
Fajt also has earned several awards and recognitions, including the Montague-Center for Teaching Excellence Scholar, Texas Veterinary Medical Association (TVMA) Faculty Achievement Award, and, in 2018, Fajt was awarded the American Association of Bovine Practitioners Award of Excellence.
“I respect and admire her and her work greatly, and I now value her expertise as both a colleague and a friend,” a former student said. “I received a wonderful education at Texas A&M, and Dr. Fajt remains one of my instructors of whom I was, and remain, most fond. I am a better veterinarian for having learned from her and a better person for knowing her.”
Dr. Shannon Washburn
Washburn’s research focuses on both veterinary and human medicine, with a specific concentration on fetal-maternal health, as well as educational research on teaching and learning methodology.
Washburn’s commitment to teaching and providing quality educational experiences to students is not limited to the classrooms at Texas A&M. She has developed and published an online instructional module that demonstrates the function of the hypothalamus-pituitary-target gland axis, which has been made available to other academic institutions.
“Her work ethic and commitment to excellence in education are unparalleled, in my view,” one colleague said.
Washburn has also received the John H. Milliff Teaching Award, AFS College Level Distinguished Teaching Award, Texas Veterinary Medical Association Outstanding Research Scientist Award, and others recognizing her outstanding scientific and teaching achievements.
“Dr. Shannon Washburn is more than a teacher to me and referring to her as such is somewhat of an insult,” a former student said about Dr. Washburn’s commitment to being more than an educator. “Indeed, she is an amazing teacher, but more importantly, she was there when I needed a friend and family.
“She is an advocate for the student, and my class will always be grateful for how hard she worked for us,” the former student continued. “She gave us everything she had to make us better veterinarians.”
Washburn says she is most inspired by the feedback she receives from her students and how she is able to support them, when she sees them succeed, and finally walk the stage at graduation.
Contact Information: Jennifer Gauntt, Director of Communications, Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences; firstname.lastname@example.org; 979-862-4216