The Minnie Stevens Piper Foundation
has named Texas Lutheran University (TLU) Physics Department Chair Dr. Toni D. Sauncy one of its 2021 Piper Professor honorees. Sauncy is one of only 10 college professors in Texas to be selected for her superior teaching and for having a profound influence on students at the university level.
“This is an exceptional honor for Dr. Sauncy and for our institution,” said TLU President Dr. Debbie Cottrell. “The Piper award recognizes outstanding teaching connected to significant work with students. To be selected for this award is a very high recognition, and I’m very proud that Dr. Sauncy joins a distinguished list of outstanding faculty statewide, as well as eight previous Piper award recipients at TLU.”
Sauncy has taught at various levels for the last 22 years. She is a proud first-generation college student and the first in her family to graduate high school. She holds a Ph.D. and a Master of Science in Physics from Texas Tech University and a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics also from Texas Tech.
In addition to chairing the TLU Physics Department, Sauncy is also the Harold Johnson Professor in Pre-Engineering, advisor to TLU’s Society of Physics Students Chapter, the President-Elect of the American Association of Physics Teachers, chair of the Council on Undergraduate Research Physics and Astronomy Division, a board member of the Advanced Lab Physics Association (ALPhA), the regional director of ALPhA for Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas, director of TLU’s STEM Teachers National Science Foundation (NSF) Noyce Scholarship Program, and the director of TLU’s STEM Undergraduates Reaching for Excellence NSF project.
In 2017, Sauncy was named a Fellow of the American Association of Physics (AAPT) Teachers. In 2018, she received the TLU Harold T. Bier award for outstanding teaching, as well as the Texas Section of AAPT Mary Beth Monroe Award for distinguished service to students. Mary Beth Monroe was actually one of Sauncy’s mentors as a young faculty member and the award is in her memory. Sauncy says she was very fortunate to be taught by some amazing teachers along the way, all who collectively helped shape her thoughts in the classroom and lab.
These awards are intended to provide increased recognition of teaching excellence, although the Foundation’s Selection Committee also considers research, publication, and related activity. According to the San Antonio-based Foundation, the award recognizes professors for outstanding academic, scientific, and scholarly achievement and for dedication to the teaching profession.
“Dr. Sauncy's teaching evaluations are exceptional, not an easy feat given the fact she teaches Physics,” said TLU VP For Academic Affairs Dr. Sarah Ferguson. “Physics courses are challenging and have caused more than one student to be frustrated with their instructor. But not Dr. Sauncy’s students. They consistently report that the class was hard and Dr. Sauncy was not easy, but she was there with them every step of the way.”
The prestigious recognition includes a $5,000 award, and Sauncy is the ninth TLU professor to receive the honor. Previous TLU Piper Professors include: Professor of Christianity and Philosophy Adolph C. Streng (1961), Associate Professor of Education Helen Weiss (1968), Associate Professor of Science Evelyn Fiedler Streng (1977), Professor of Physical Education Kathy M. Yandell (1988), Professor of Theology Norman A. Beck (1992), Professor of Economics Annette M. Citzler (1995), and School of Music Director Douglas R. Boyer (2014), and Professor of Psychology Tiffiny L. Sia (2016).
To be eligible, candidates must be nominated through the President's Office of their university and participation is by invitation only.
About the Minnie Stevens Piper Foundation
Founded in 1950 by Randall Gordon Piper and his wife, Minnie Stevens Piper, the foundation serves their dream of encouraging young minds and intellectual achievement. The Piper Professor Awards began in 1958 with eight recipients and the roster includes outstanding professors from two and four-year colleges and universities, public and private.