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UT Tyler Professors Recognized for Outstanding Dedication to Teaching


Dr. Joshua Banta and Dr. Kenneth Bryant Jr., faculty at The University of Texas at Tyler, have been recognized as two of the best educators within the UT System.

They both earned a 2023 UT System Regents Outstanding Teaching Award, and each will receive $25,000 in recognition of extraordinary classroom performance, innovation and commitment to student success through teaching.

“UT faculty members guide our students’ success and prepare Texas’ future leaders, job creators and innovators,” said UT Board of Regents Chairman Kevin Eltife. “The Board of Regents is proud to recognize their excellence through the Regents Outstanding Teaching Awards program.”

Both professors will be recognized with 12 other awardees later this fall in Austin. Banta, an associate professor of biology, joined UT Tyler in 2011. For more than 15 years, Banta has been instrumental in developing UT Tyler student researchers as a faculty adviser in the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation Summer Research Academy. The program, sponsored by UT System and supported by the National Science Foundation, is designed to provide research experiences to undergraduate students from underrepresented populations and encourage them to pursue graduate-level STEM studies.

He also directs the university’s Center for Environment, Biodiversity and Conservation while collaborating with state and federal partners on mussel research. His research and teaching interests focus on evolutionary genetics, plant biology, landscape ecology and geographic information systems. Banta holds a doctorate in ecology and evolution from Stony Brook University.

Bryant, an associate professor of political science, joined UT Tyler in 2017. His research focuses on re-examining conventional thought about historically marginalized communities, as well as exploring new questions on their behavior, attitudes and development. He was instrumental in the development of the UT Tyler Center for Opinion Research.


Among his publications, Bryant co-authored a book about factors that are reshaping voter preferences and changing the political landscape across Texas. “Battle for the Heart of Texas: Political Change in the Electorate” examines current political trends based on polling, surveys and focus groups conducted by the center in conjunction with The Dallas Morning News. He holds master’s and doctoral degrees in political science from the University of Missouri.

The Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Awards were established in 2008 to honor exemplary classroom performance. Nominees undergo a series of rigorous evaluations by peer faculty and external reviewers. The review panels consider a range of activities and criteria in their evaluations of a candidate’s teaching performance, including classroom expertise, curricula quality, innovative course development and student learning outcomes. For more information, visit

With a mission to improve educational and health care outcomes for East Texas and beyond, UT Tyler offers more than 90 undergraduate and graduate programs to nearly 10,000 students. Through its alignment with UT Tyler Health Science Center and UT Health East Texas, UT Tyler has unified these entities to serve Texas with quality education, cutting-edge research and excellent patient care. Classified by Carnegie as a doctoral research institution and by U.S. News & World Report as a national university, UT Tyler has campuses in Tyler, Longview, Palestine and Houston.

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