Altshuler Distinguished Teaching Professor Award

Altshuler Distinguished Teaching Professor Award

Since 2001, The Altshuler Distinguished Teaching Professor Award annually recognizes four SMU faculty members for their notable commitment to and achievements in fostering student learning. These are teachers whose concerns for higher education go beyond classroom boundaries and often the boundaries of their own disciplines. In student mentoring, in discussions about teaching, and in continuous reflection about their own successes and ways to improve, they represent the highest achievement in reaching the goals of higher education. Guidelines for nomination and selection are here.

Recipients receive a $10,000 award and membership in SMU's Academy of Distinguished Teachers. For two years following the award, they participate actively with other members of the Academy in providing campus-wide leadership in teaching and learning.

Here are the 2018 recipients of the Award:


Maribeth Kuenzi is an associate professor of Management in the Cox School of Business. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Central Florida and joined the SMU faculty in 2008. Her research interests include organizational climate, business ethics, organizational justice, and multilevel research. 

Professor Kuenzi’s has a passion for Management and is exceptionally effective in her teaching methods. She teaches a variety of large section classes, and all with outstanding evaluations. Her students find that she is enthusiastic about the topic, engaging with students, and organized. In her teaching statement, she describes how she designs courses in a way that allows students to participate in their learning and be actively engaged in class. Kuenzi is regarded as a wise counselor and effective mentor among both students and other faculty, highly respected for her ability to suggest options and courses of action when presented with a dilemma or teaching conundrum. 


Owen Lynch is an associate professor of Organizational Communication in the Meadow’s School of the Arts. He received his Ph.D. from Texas A&M University and joined the SMU community in 2005. His research interests include how organizations and communities are (re)produced through everyday discourse and routines of its members. 

Lynch is rigorous, demanding, and cares for his students. His course evaluations echo this caring and approachable demeanor to teaching with his students. Lynch’s groundbreaking work in applying organizational theory to Get Healthy Dallas, a nonprofit organization he helped form that is dedicated to addressing the lack of healthy food options, adequate education and economic development opportunities in South Dallas, has drawn national recognition. Additionally, his strength using the sit-stop-stay teaching method provides students with an opportunity to provide feedback, and Lynch the opportunity to explain why he teaches a particular way.


Meghan Ryan is the Gerald J. Ford Research Fellow and Professor of Law in the Dedman School of Law. She received her A.B., in Chemistry from Harvard University and her J.D. from the University of Minnesota Law School. Ryan joined the SMU faculty in 2009. Her research is focused on the impact of evolving science, technology, and cultural values on criminal convictions and punishments, as well as on civil remedies. 

Professor Ryan challenges her students to push beyond the current state of the law and its implications to think about what the law could be and how they can influence the development of the law.  She is an outstanding teacher that fully understands and communicates her content area with thoughtful course design and through a variety of learning styles and teaching methods. She represents the best of the legal academy, and has a strong commitment to her students. 


Brandilyn Stigler is a member of the faculty of SMU’s Dedman College and is an associate professor of Mathematics. She received her Ph.D. from Virginia Tech University and came to SMU in 2008. Stigler’s research focuses in the development of a mathematical framework for the reverse engineering of gene networks, and using computational algebra as a primary source of tools. 

Her teaching philosophy is built around an active learning environment strategically designed to aid students in becoming literate in the language of mathematics. She is described as a true gem and role model to students in mathematics. Evaluations are consistently at the top of the department, despite teaching the complicated subject of pure math. She successfully creates an environment where students learn that it’s okay to fail because it puts the burden on the student to take part in the learning process.