Dr. Bennett T. Amaechi Presented with 2019 Presidential Award for Sustained Excellence in Teaching
April 23, 2019
Bennett T. Amaechi, B.D.S., M.Sc, Ph.D., MFDSRCPS (Glasg), FADI, a Professor in the Department of Comprehensive Dentistry, was presented with a Presidential Award for Sustained Excellence in Teaching on March 7, 2019. Dr. Amaechi joined the School of Dentistry faculty in November of 2001 as the Director of Cariology, a title he continues to hold 18 years later. In addition, he directs two undergraduate patient care courses and assists in three preclinical laboratory courses in both operative dentistry and prosthodontics. In 2015, the dental curriculum underwent a major redesign that rolled out in 2017 and Dr. Amaechi was a key contributor due to his role with the Introduction to Patient Care track. Given his vast experience as a distinguished researcher and educator, students actively seek him out for advice and his superiors have called him an expert in caries management, based on the research he has conducted.
Throughout the years, Dr. Amaechi has attained worldwide recognition for his efforts towards teaching and research, so we sat down to ask him about his latest achievement of being honored as a 2019 Presidential Award Recipient.
•Dr. Amaechi, congratulations on your 2019 Presidential Award for Sustained Excellence in Teaching! What does it mean to you to receive this distinguished honor?
It is a great honor to my academic career. I see it as an indication of the university’s appreciation and recognition of my accomplishments as a faculty member of this university. It is great encouragement and motivation to continue doing this good work for the institution and for our dear students.
•May I ask what inspired you to begin a career in academia?
When I completed my specialist training in prosthodontics at Guy’s and St. Thomas’ Hospitals, University of London, School of Dentistry, I acquired an appointment as a House Officer in General Dentistry and junior lecturer at the University of Liverpool, U.K. It was during this period that I developed a special interest in teaching. Coincidentally, the United Kingdom, like many other European countries, encourages and sponsors junior faculty to work towards their Ph.D. degree part-time in order to gain training on research methodology. I took this opportunity and completed my Ph.D. in Cariology (caries management) and Preventive Dentistry. During my Ph.D. work, I fell in love with research and, combined with my developed interest in teaching, chose a career in academia to capture the opportunity to teach as well as conduct research.
•What do you feel students value most about your teaching style?
According to the students, I have made my courses very effective by correlating the course material with clinical dentistry. They also value the fact that I incorporate my research as well as real life situations into my teaching. They express their appreciation of the combination of PowerPoints and lecture notes, which they said enhanced their learning. Before the reformat of the dental curriculum, students enjoyed and appreciated the fact that in my Cariology course they were learning something that is directly related to the clinical management of dental caries.
•What advice would you give to faculty members looking to achieve teaching excellence?
They should not only focus on making accomplishments to achieve promotions and tenure. They should, through dedication and commitment, diversify their efforts and accomplishments to embrace the four major missions of the university; education, research, health care and community engagement. It takes a lot of hard work, but it is well worth it.
•What is your proudest moment as a faculty member with UTHSA so far?
Not just a moment, but my proudest occasion was that evening I was honored with a presidential award crystal. With my dean, departmental chair, family members, and Dr. Bill Rose, the pre-doctoral program director who nominated me for the award, all there to support me, I felt special and highly honored.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Remarks by President Henrich during Dr. Amaechi's award presentation can be found on the My UT Health webpage. UT Health San Antonio login credentials will be required.