LU News Archive

System honors Ku-yen Li as new regents' professor

Lamar University’s Ku-yen Li, professor of chemical engineering, will be honored as a regents’ professor by The Texas State University System (TSUS). Li will be formally recognized at its quarterly board of regents’ meeting.

Ku-yen LiThe honor of regent’s professor is conferred on professors who demonstrate excellence and exemplary achievement in teaching, research and publication, and service, according to TSUS Foundation guidelines. Li is the fifth Lamar University faculty member to be honored as a TSUS Regents’ Professor joining Jean Andrews, T.C. Ho, Pamela Saur and Keith Carter.

Li already holds the title of university professor at Lamar, an honor he received in 2009.

“The only Lamar University faculty members who may be considered for this honor are current faculty who have been recognized previously as university professors or as the former LU System regents’ professors,” said Steve Doblin, provost and vice president for academic affairs.

A faculty committee selects the nominees each year at the same time it chooses the university professor and merit award recipients, Doblin said.

As a professor in the Dan F. Smith Department of Chemical Engineering, Ku-yen Li has served Lamar University since 1978. “His touch of excellence is apparent throughout the chemical engineering program – in the courses he has taught, the leadership he has provided, the faculty he has hired, the research he has conducted, the relations he has cultivated with industry and, in big ways and small, the students he has educated,” Doblin said.

Li has served Lamar and his profession with distinction and generosity, Doblin said. He was department chair for seven years, led the effort to gain Lamar’s only Ph.D. program, worked tirelessly to maintain accreditation from ABET Inc. (formerly the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology) and guided Lamar’s master’s program to national prominence. 

Research and scholarship form the basis for Li’s exemplary professional reputation, Doblin said. He and his fellow investigators have received more than $2.6 million in external funding for 20 projects. In addition to research efforts, these funds have supported dozens of graduate students.

Ku-yen Li“Dr. Li is an outstanding professor who has devoted his entire career to Lamar University,” wrote T.C. Ho, his colleague, friend and fellow University Professor. “He has contributed to the many successes of the department and college. He is recognized as an effective and knowledgeable instructor who sets high standards and is remembered by his students long after they graduate. He is a highly productive researcher, and his record is truly outstanding.”

Jack Hopper, dean of the College of Engineering, wrote: “The title and description of University Professor will be enhanced by having an individual such as Dr. Ku-yen Li among the list of recipients.”

Li has taught 10 courses, six on the graduate level. He has supervised the thesis work for more than 50 graduate students in chemical engineering and has advised and directed hundreds of undergraduate students. Last year, Li received a two-year National Science Foundation teaching grant to improve Lamar’s chemical engineering curriculum and align it with industry practices. The grant mirrors one he received in 2002 to improve undergraduate chemical engineering education through best-practice modeling and simulation.

Li is one of the early pioneers to implement dynamic simulation during plant startups for the purpose of flare minimization. This flare minimization has earned support from the Environmental Protection Agency, and Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, and several chemical companies. With his presentations at national and international conferences, several international companies, including PetroChina, will test his flare minimization methodology during their plant startup, shutdown and process upset situations.

Li has earned several teaching awards, including the Outstanding Educator Award from the American Institute of Chemical Engineering, Texas-Sabine Section, in 1982; the Amoco Outstanding Teaching Award in 1992; and the University Teaching Excellence Award from Lamar in 1996. Despite a hectic schedule, he has served on virtually every Lamar committee and council and is a source of knowledge and advice for local industry.

A professional engineer, Li is a long-standing member of the American Institute of Chemical Engineering and has held several offices in the organization. He is a member of the American Chemical Society, Blue Key, Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society, and Phi Tau Phi Scholastic Honor Society of America.

He has served on editorial boards and review panels. Li is the author of more than 100 refereed publications, averaging three articles per year over three decades and including many in the nation’s most prestigious chemical engineering journals.

Li earned his Ph.D. from Mississippi State University and his master’s and bachelor’s degrees from National Cheng-Kung University (NCKU). Li was honored as one of the two outstanding alumni in the Chemical Engineering Department at NCKU in 2009.

“Together, our Regents' and University Professors form a Who’s Who of academic excellence,” Doblin said.

 “They have published scores of books and have produced thousands of articles, essays, poems and works of fine art. They have received millions upon millions of dollars in external support and research grants and countless teaching, scholarship and service awards and recognitions. Even more important, through their excellence in the classroom, laboratory, and studio, they have touched and enriched the lives of our students.

“By any measure, these faculty members represent the very best and are the heart and soul of Lamar University,” Doblin said.