Three faculty members and an academic department at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley were recognized May 5 for their exceptional efforts, during the annual Faculty Excellence Awards ceremony.

The Faculty Excellence Award winners who went above and beyond in the areas of teaching, service and student mentoring were:

TEACHING: Elias Villarreal Jr., MPAS, ADE, PA-C, clinical associate professor, Department of Physician Assistant, College of Health Affairs.

SERVICE: Dora Elia Garcia Saavedra, Ph.D., associate professor of communication, Department of Communication, College of Liberal Arts.

STUDENT MENTORING: Emmy Pérez, associate professor, MFA program in creative writing, College of Fine Arts.

The Excellence Award in Faculty Mentoring went to the School of Rehabilitation Services and Counseling in the College of Health Affairs.

Also honored at the ceremony for their accomplishments during the 2015-16 academic year were seven winners of UT System Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Awards, eight faculty winners of national external awards, nine faculty who had books published, and 13 faculty who received grants of $1 million or more.

Dr. Havidán Rodríguez, founding provost and executive vice president for Academic Affairs, praised the talent, contributions, commitment and hard work of the awardees.

“We always say student success is at the core of what we do at this institution, but student success revolves around the success and the excellence of our faculty,” he said. “We are celebrating you today.”

The Faculty Excellence Award program is co-sponsored by the Office of the Provost and the UTRGV Foundation Board. An external selection committee chose the winners from nominees recommended by their peers at the college level.

Each faculty winner received a plaque and a $5,000 monetary award. The department recognized received $3,000 in travel funds to support the faculty in their department / school.