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Dr. Ken-Hou Lin Becomes First Iverson Award Recipient

Dr. Ken-Hou Lin watches students dance in his Signature Course

There’s a new way to show appreciation for ground-breaking professors.

On Dec. 14, 2022, the Signature Course Advisory Committee announced the first recipient of the Iverson Award for Innovation: sociologist Dr. Ken-Hou Lin. This College of Liberal Arts professor teaches the Signature Course Two to Tango: The Sociology of Interpersonal Relationships, during which students are challenged to examine relationships they have had in the past and consider those they would like to have in the future. Lin relies on a variety of sources like readings on sociology, psychology, history and demography, discussions on sensitive topics such as hook-up culture, racism in Greek life, why some forms of marriage are illegal and how deportation affects immigrant families, and—as the title suggests—Argentine tango.

In May 2022, the advisory committee established the Iverson Award for Innovation. Named for Dr. Brent Iverson, former Dean of Undergraduate Studies and current chemistry professor in the College of Natural Sciences, this award honors faculty members who push the boundaries of pedagogy in a Signature Course, a first-year class designed to introduce new Longhorns to the university’s academic community through the exploration of new interests.

Students learn steps in Dr. Ken-Hou Lin's tango Signature Course

Students in the class are required to take a weekly tango lesson and attend a monthly social dance. They learn how women can lead and men can follow, how to express themselves non-verbally, how to respect personal boundaries, and that it is okay to be vulnerable. The students are challenged to step out of their comfort zone, both socially and emotionally, and in so doing, Lin hopes they will get to know their peers from across Texas and make some of their first on-campus friends.

“It is a great honor to be the first recipient of the Iverson Award for Innovation,” said Lin. “Professor Iverson has been a true inspiration since I arrived on campus in 2013. I am grateful for this recognition, as well as the tremendous support from the First-Year Experience office, the Difficult Dialogue Learning Community, and the Department of Sociology.” Lin also expressed his gratitude for the Signature Courses: “As the Signature Course program becomes a national model, it is now another example of ‘What starts here changes the world.’ I feel very fortunate to be a small part of this innovative community.”

The award’s namesake is similarly thrilled. “It is my sincere hope that moving forward, this award can be a teaching showcase for our campus, driving the dissemination of new approaches and pedagogies,” said Iverson. “Dr. Lin has been identified as the best of the best. I congratulate him on this important recognition and say thank you on behalf of all of your students for being such an innovative, enthusiastic and committed teacher!”