Ken Young, David J. Beck Teaching Excellence Award

Dr. Ken Young, associate professor of educational leadership, is the recipient of the David J. Beck Teaching Excellence Award. Lamar University President Ken Evans bestowed the award, which comes with a Ken Young$25,000 check, virtually by interrupting one of Dr. Young’s classes.  

“As cameras began to come on, I realized President Evans and Juan Zabala were there, and I was really getting concerned because there were all kinds of tech issues going on with things moving around in my virtual classroom,” said Young. “But, when it was time for class, I welcomed everyone as I typically do, and then one of my co-instructors, Dr. Nicolas Ciosi, took over the mic and introduced Dr. Evans, at which time they revealed why they were there. My reactions moved from intrigue and concern to shock and elation in pretty rapid succession.” 

Young was one of 37 nominations submitted by students, faculty and administration for the award. Of those 37 nominees, only 17 faculty members completed the extensive application process. The candidates were interviewed by a selection committee to determine who best represents “the pinnacle of teaching excellence and whose academic performance brings acclaim to LU.”

“I normally would not have applied for such a recognition, but did so to honor those students who took the time to nominate me. I figured if they were going to make that kind of effort on my behalf, I was going to make the effort to apply,” said Young, who was nominated by three of his students - Drs. Desiree Alexander, Bill Parker and Lee Moses.

Dr. J. Kenneth “Ken” Young joined LU in 2009, after completing his Ph.D. in educational psychology at Baylor University in Waco. Young’s primary teaching responsibilities include courses in applied research methods, scholarly writing, global leadership and adult learning theories. He has also taught doctoral level courses in adult learning theory, eduacational leadership/ethics, organizational change and multiculturalism. His research interests are in the fields of cognitive epidemiology, individual differences and hiring practices in education. During his time at LU, he has made more than 22 presentations and written more than 18 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters.

In addition to his teaching and scholarly production, Dr. Young has served as a chair/co-chair for more than 30 dissertations and a committee member for more than 50 dissertations. Young is currently serving as president of the International Council of Professors of Educational Leadership, executive board member and president-elect of the Texas Council of Professors of Educational Administration and editor of Educational Leadership Review and School Leadership Review. He also serves s the chair for ICPEL’s annual Morphet Award for Outstanding Dissertations. At LU, Young is the educational leadership representative to the university research council, graduate faculty review committee and serves on the college personnel committee. His a past member of the faculty senate, IRB Committee and Lamar University Athletics Council. He is a current member of the College of Education and Human Development’s Educator Preparation Programs Assessment Steering Committee and the evaluation coordinator for the Center for Doctoral Studies in Education.

When the pandemic hit, Young was a member of a team of educators who collaborated to support educators across Texas move from face-to-face instruction to alternative instructional methods. Within 48 hours of learning that Lamar University and many other educational institutions across the country would move to online teaching, Young, along with LU’s Drs. Krystal Hinerman and Cynthia Cummings, offered a free webinar to demonstrate how to teach online using streaming video tools and provide tips on how to set-up and conduct instruction with students in an interactive format.

Young said at that time: “One of the outstanding characteristics of educators is that they function similarly to first responders and run toward any crisis or challenge. They do what they need to on behalf of the students and their families, not because they want to make a name for themselves, and definitely not because of the money. They do it because they care. It is in this spirit that we felt compelled to do what we could to support them in a manner that would not burden them or their institutions financially or otherwise. We’re not doing this as consultants for money or notoriety, but because we care about them and the success of the students they teach. In our opinion, it is a practical way to bridge the university and communities we serve to make a positive difference in our state and beyond.”

The educators, including Young, continued to develop additional webinars, tutorials and resources throughout the pandemic for anyone who requested help.

“One of my primary goals is to continue to bring positive recognition to our university, college and the Department of Educational Leadership in regard to the preparation of educational leaders,” said Young. “My hope is that this recognition reaffirms the quality of education our students can expect from the faculty in our department and the emphasis we place on teaching as a regional university. I also hope it adds credibility to my contributions as an educator and the students I serve.” 

The David J. Beck Teaching Excellence Award was given to Young for his genuine commitment to his students and their teaching success even after they graduate from Lamar University.

“Ken Young is a dynamic teacher, the teachers’ teacher,” said Ken Evans, president of Lamar University. “He exemplifies servant-leadership, through his selfless focus on meeting the needs of others, namely his students, present and past. Because of his work with teachers through the pandemic, Young has impacted thousands of students across the state of Texas, and likely the country, providing a continuity of education through innovation and technology.”

Through a generous gift to the Lamar University Foundation, Houston attorney David J. Beck established the David J. Beck Teaching Excellence Award. Each year, a recipient of the David J. Beck Teaching Excellence Award receives $25,000 and retains the title of Beck Teaching Excellence Award recipient throughout her or his academic career.

Evans explains, “Mr. Beck is a great friend of our university. His generous gift supports the very best in teaching at Lamar University and will have a lasting impact on our faculty and student success.”

I am incredibly thankful for Mr. Beck and his ongoing support of excellence in teaching. His generous gift will not only allow me to celebrate this accomplishment with my family in a once-in-a-lifetime way, but also do some things for others on a level that I might not have otherwise been able to do,” said Young. “I want to thank Dr. Nordgren, Mr. Zabala and the selection committee for the work they did in selecting the recipient of this year’s award. I want to thank the students who nominated me and the people who wrote letters of support on my behalf. Thank you, Dean Spina, for writing one of those letters and for your support of the work I do in the doctoral program.  Finally, I want to thank President Evans and the administration at LU for their support of creativity and innovation in the field of education and for taking time to recognize the efforts of the faculty of this wonderful university.”