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LU honors Peggy Doerschuk as 2011 University Professor

Peggy DoerschukLamar University honored Peggy Doerschuk, professor of computer science, as the 2011 University Professor, with officials applauding her as an innovative and accomplished researcher as well as a teacher and mentor who has deeply touched the lives of her students.

The professorship, awarded for life, is the university’s most prestigious faculty award and recognizes an outstanding senior professor for academic excellence, said Stephen Doblin, provost and vice president for academic affairs.

“Dr. Doerschuk has served Lamar extraordinarily well and has done so for more than 17 years,” Doblin said. “Her mark of excellence is apparent throughout the university – in the courses she has taught, the leadership she has provided, the scholarship she has conducted, the funding she has secured, the programs she has directed, the relations she has cultivated and, in big ways and small, the students she has educated.”

Lamar officials announced Doerschuk’s selection Wednesday (April 20, 2011) during a program in the University Reception Center of the Mary and John Gray Library. President James Simmons conferred the medallion of University Professor, presented “as a lasting symbol of this high honor and esteemed title” and described as “the pinnacle of academic achievement at our university . . . recognized by all as an emblem of highest merit.”

Larry Osborne, chair of the Department of Computer Science, describes Doerschuk as “dedicated educator and fine researcher whose service has had exceptional impact on those with whom she has worked, especially the students whose futures have been altered by having participated in the programs she has engendered.”

“Lamar has so many talented and dedicated faculty members. I am deeply honored to be selected by my peers for this award,” said Doerschuk, who lives in Pinewood with her husband, David, an electrical engineer. “I love Lamar because of its students, because it embraces the teacher/scholar model, because it values diversity, because it supports undergraduate research, because it is a place where one person can make a difference.”

“My finest achievements stem not from my actions as an individual but from the collective work of my teams of students, faculty and administrators with whom I have the privilege of serving. It is my pleasure to accept this award on behalf of all of them.”

Doerschuk has taught at the college level for two decades, having earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the University of Southwestern Louisiana and doctor of philosophy in computer science from Tulane University. She has taught a dozen undergraduate courses, as well as 13 graduate courses.

Her areas of expertise include artificial intelligence, computer architecture and software engineering – “and, I might add, shaping students into tomorrow’s leaders,” Doblin said. “Doerschuk’s name quickly calls to mind a series of acronyms well recognized across the campus and community: STAIRSTEP, INSPIRED and WIRED.”

STudents Advancing through Involvement in Research-Student Talent Expansion Program, or STAIRSTEP, is a National Science Foundation-supported program that introduces undergraduates to five science fields and provides outreach in the form of recruiting events to high school and community college students.

INcreasing Student Participation In REsearch Development Program, or INSPIRED, is an NSF-supported effort to increase the participation of women and minorities in computing.

Women In REsearch Development Program, or WIRED, was a program supported by grants from the Texas Workforce Development and ExxonMobil, with the goal of promoting computer science among women. It was the predecessor to INSPIRED.

“Doerschuk developed, wrote, directed and nurtured each of these important programs and, by doing so, has deeply touched hundreds of students,” Doblin said. “Students in these programs have developed and delivered award-winning professional presentations, while dozens of others have thrived during the summer camps she conducted. Excellent student evaluations, flattering written comments and well-deserved praise from colleagues reinforce and broadcast her reputation for excellence.”

“I have always looked up to Professor Doerschuk as an excellent professor and mentor, and she has played a major role in my academic and professional success,” said one WIRED student. Another wrote, “Dr. Doerschuk is one of the most inspiring and motivating teachers we have at Lamar.”

Doerschuk has served as faculty advisor to Lamar’s Student Chapter of the Association for Computing Machinery and the Computer Science Women++ Organization. She has earned awards and recognitions, most notably a University Merit Award in 1997 and the Andrew Green Performance Award for Outstanding Research and Teaching in 2000.

She is a reviewer and consultant for the National Science Foundation. A manuscript reviewer for several highly regarded journals and conferences, she has held leadership positions in professional associations.

Research and scholarship also have contributed to Doerschuk’s reputation. She is an accomplished and polished researcher, with most of her scholarly work in the areas of intelligent systems and robot-to-robot communication. To support her efforts, she and fellow investigators have secured almost $2 million in external support from such prestigious sources as the U.S. Army, National Science Foundation, NASA and ExxonMobil.

During 20 years in higher education, Doblin said, she has produced 48 peer-reviewed articles, invited papers and proceeding publications – an impressive number and evidence of her relentless pace. Osborne notes, “Her publications have been based on careful research often with graduate and undergraduate coauthors. She enjoys collaboration with colleagues of all levels of understanding, from students to internationally known scholars.”

Doerschuk also has contributed to service activities, many involving key leadership roles. She has served dozens of departmental, college and university committees and councils in offices including president, vice president and secretary of Lamar’s Faculty Senate. In the community, and in addition to her outreach and summer camp programs, she has addressed middle and high school audiences as well as K-12 technical staff.

“Dr. Peggy Doerschuk is an outstanding faculty role model and mentor. She is a driving force in the computer science department,” said Brenda Nichols, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “Dr. Doerschuk is an extremely valuable member of her department, the college and the university. Her external funding and publication record is diverse and significant. She brings an impressive set of qualifications for this, the university’s highest award.”