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Thursday, June 1, 2023

Academics & Research

Piper award picks professor

Many educators teach to give something back to their students, to prepare their students for success, and nevertheless to teach what they love. Mathematics professor Jeffrey J. Morgan has continued to prove to himself that teaching is what he was meant to do as he has been selected as the 2013 Piper Professor by the Minnie Stevens Piper Foundation and has received a $5,000 honorarium for his superior college level teaching.



Each year, the Minnie Stevens Piper Foundation, a Texas-based nonprofit organization that supports charitable, scientific and educational undertakings, chooses 10 outstanding educators from across the state of Texas for this honor. Morgan is the 10th professor from UH to receive this honor.

“I teach to give something back that was given to me,” Morgan said. “It was clear from a young age that I had a hunger for teaching, and this was because a few excellent teachers in (kindergarten through 12th grade) played an amazing role in shaping my life.”

Morgan came to UH in 2002 and has served as the chair of the mathematics department for 10 years. Under Morgan’s leadership, the department introduced common exams to unify standards and approaches across class sections, built electronic databases and course management software, creating online learning materials and instituting mandatory attendance requirements.

Morgan is also a co-director of teachHOUSTON, a math and science teacher-preparation program. This six-year-old program is designed to help urban schools attract and maintain middle-school and high-school teachers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields by immersing aspiring educators in public school classrooms early in their college careers.

Chemistry professor Simon Bott was selected as a Piper professor last year and also serves as co-director of the teachHOUSTON program with Morgan.

“I feel very privileged to work with him.  He created teachHOUSTON and put a great team together of former high school and middle school teachers,” Bott said. “He has a very strong and ambitious agenda and set of goals for teachHOUSTON that will elevate the teaching of math and science in the Greater Houston area.”

In addition to his many responsibilities as a professor and chair of the math department, Morgan provides support and resources to math and science teachers in the community. He organizes competitions, workshops, and develops free exercises and practice exams for both students and teachers for kindergarten through high school.

Morgan is immersed in mathematics across the board at UH and has played a significant role in educating many college students who may otherwise have slipped through the cracks of higher learning. A substantial number of students have been inspired to become math majors because of their experiences in his courses.

“I am always trying to figure out how something works  even if I have to dismantle it. My curiosity for life is perhaps my greatest gift. I look forward to experiencing everything life brings my way and sharing that passion with my family, friends, colleagues and students,” Morgan said.

“Outside of family and faith, my commitment to teaching is the most important thing in my life. I love UH, and I plan to stay here as long as I can make positive contributions in teaching, service and research. I will continue to teach, work with teachers and contribute in any way I can, so long as I can find a way to make a difference.”

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