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Three Innovators Receive Recognition

2023 McDowell Award Winners

Dr. Domino Perez, professor in the Department of English, Dr. Hillary Procknow, and the School of Information’s Dr. Kenneth Fleischmann may not have similar schedules, classrooms, or subject matter, but they have one exciting thing in common. This trio of outstanding faculty and staff members have been selected as this year’s Cale McDowell awardees.

The Cale McDowell Award celebrates Longhorns who have improved the undergraduate experience at The University of Texas at Austin through innovative undergraduate programming, research aimed at improving the undergraduate experience, the creation or support of policies that improve the core curriculum, or enhanced delivery of academic services. The award was established in 2010 with gifts from donors including Inaugural Dean of the School of Undergraduate Studies Paul Woodruff and President William Powers, Jr.

Dr. Perez, who has chaired the Cultural Diversity and Global Cultures Flags faculty committee since 2017, is recognized for her work redefining the Cultural Diversity Flag in the wake of student feedback and nationwide Black Lives Matter protests in 2020. The new definition helps students “reflect critically about the social, political, historical, and/or economic forces that have shaped students’ own cultural experiences, those of the groups they are studying, and those of others in their communities,” wrote one nominator. “That Prof. Perez was able to guide the committee through revisions to this Flag, navigating the demands of students and faculty, despite the challenges of a pandemic, is a testament to her dedication and leadership….Prof. Perez has (at least indirectly) influenced the curriculum of every single undergraduate student at UT.”

Dr. Procknow’s collaborative, cross-campus work to improve student mental health and well-being led to her nomination for this award. From representing the University at the Association for Undergraduate Education at Research Universities to sitting on UT System’s Student Success Guiding Coalition and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board’s Student Success Advisory Council, she has advocated for undergraduate students. She integrated the Sanger Learning Center, the Vick Advising Excellence Center, and Student Success Initiatives into a coherent unit, and has shown that “she is truly a service leader, valuing the unique strengths and contributions of all of her co-workers and believing that collaborations are the key to rising to true student responsiveness,” says one of her colleagues.

Dr. Fleischmann has spent the last few years establishing the new undergraduate Informatics major, earning him the distinction of a McDowell Award. A nominator describes the incredible work he has put in: “Ken led the preparation of the original proposal, identified and mentored faculty and wonderful staff hires, took the proposal to faculty council and to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. He has worked with the dean to ensure that the program has the needed resources, and he has served as the founding director of the program. Throughout, Ken has adhered to his values: student input, transparency, clarity in the degree description/marketing, and ensuring the program is welcoming for transfers as well as those in their first year.”

Drs. Perez, Procknow, and Fleischmann will each receive a $1,500 honorarium as part of their award and will be honored at the CEUGS Spring BBQ on Tuesday, May 16.