Koufteros, Moreno-Conteno and Sparks each receive a UPUTE
Published on Tue 11/10/20
Three members of the Texas A&M faculty were honored with the University Professorships for
Undergraduate Teaching Excellence (UPUTE). The award is conferred upon the most distinguished instructors of
undergraduate students at Texas A&M and underscores their uncommon excellence and devotion to
teaching. Recipients are lauded for their innovations in pedagogy, exploring new teaching methods and
skills for engaging students.
The 2020 recipients are: Dr. Xenophon Koufteros, professor, Information and Operations Management,
Mays Business School — Eppright Professorship in Undergraduate Teaching Excellence; Dr. Erick
Moreno-Centeno, associate professor, Industrial and Systems Engineering, College of Engineering—
Eppright Professorship in Undergraduate Teaching Excellence; Dr. David Sparks, professor, Geology and
Geophysics, College of Geosciences —Thaman Professorship in Undergraduate Teaching Excellence.
University Professorships for Undergraduate Teaching Excellence carry a three-year stipend and
additional funding to support teaching and expand opportunities for professional development.
Recipients are nominated by their college dean and recommended by a faculty committee and the Dean
of Faculties, with approval by Provost and Executive Vice President Dr. Carol A. Fierke.
Dr. Koufteros earned his Ph.D. from the University of Toledo. He has received numerous teaching
awards over the years at different institutions. At Texas A&M, Dr. Koufteros received the Nancy and
William Gardiner Teaching Award at Mays Business School in 2011. For his service to students, he
received the Association of Former Students University Level Distinguished Achievement Award for
Student Relations in 2013. He frequently receives the best teaching evaluations in his department. He
primarily teaches an undergraduate course required for the Supply Chain major in Sourcing and
Procurement; a course he developed.
Dr. Moreno-Centeno earned his Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley. Dr. Moreno-Centeno
teaches undergraduate and graduate level courses in optimization. As a faculty, his passion for teaching
has continued to be honored with several awards at the departmental, college, and university levels. Dr.
Moreno-Centeno has also been recognized at the national level with the Institute of Industrial
Engineer’s Annual Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Operations Research and an invitation to the
National Academy of Engineers’ Frontiers of Engineering Education Symposium in 2014. His teaching
primarily includes operations research and optimization courses.
Dr. Sparks earned his Ph.D. from Brown University. In 2019 he received the Dean of Geosciences
Distinguished Achievement Award for Teaching. Dr. Sparks was also honored as a Curriculum Faculty
Fellow (2015) and a Montague-CTE for Teaching Excellence Scholar (2000). Dr. Sparks was the first
Associate Department Head for Undergraduate Affairs in the Department of Geology and Geophysics.
Dr. Sparks has developed models and tools to improve processes for course scheduling, enrollment
prediction, tracking student progress, assigning teaching assistants, and distributing committee assignments.
His work organizing and co-leading the curriculum revision of the Geology and Geophysics
B.S. degrees led him to receive two Texas A&M service awards.
These professorships are made possible through generous endowments by George and Irma Eppright,
and Arthur J. and Wilhelmina Doré Thaman.