Outstanding faculty members to be honored at 31st SFA Gala

Chosen for their excellence in teaching and innovation in research, two Stephen F. Austin State University faculty members will be honored Saturday, Dec. 14, during the 31st annual SFA Gala.

Deans and chairs from 33 departments across SFA’s six colleges nominated faculty candidates who they believe should be recognized for their outstanding teaching and research initiatives. This year, Dr. Jason Reese, associate professor of management and marketing, was selected to receive the 2019 Faculty Achievement Award for Teaching. Dr. Daniel R. Unger, professor of spatial science and the Kenneth Nelson Distinguished Professor, was selected to receive the 2019 Faculty Achievement Award for Research.

Dr. Jason Reese
Overwhelmingly positive student evaluations speak to Reese’s focus on incorporating experiential learning and encouragement into the classroom.

“Dr. Reese’s talents and his commitment to excellence are skillfully applied in the classroom and beyond,” said Dr. Timothy Bisping, dean of the SFA Rusche College of Business. “His work is inspirational to his students, who benefit from his effective leadership.”

One student shared the following about Reese in a course evaluation: “He kept the class interesting by reading articles, presenting videos, Skyping with a director of marketing at Frisco Rough Riders and taking us to the career fair in Dallas. It was a great life experience.”

Reese received his Bachelor of Science in sport management from the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in 2008. He continued his education at Texas A&M University, where he graduated with both his master’s and doctoral degrees in sport management.

In 2014, Reese began teaching at SFA as an assistant professor and was promoted to associate professor in 2019. During his tenure at SFA, Reese has been the recipient of multiple awards, including the College of Business’ Distinguished Faculty Member Award in 2017 and Distinguished Service Award in 2018.

“I can think of no one more deserving of the [teaching excellence] award than Dr. Reese,” said Ryan Ivey, SFA director of athletics. “He goes out of his way to ensure every student receives a first-class experience. Nowhere is this more visible than with the partnership between the athletics department and his sports promotion class, which provides students with real-world, practical experience in working with a Division I athletics department through ticket sales, marketing and promotions.”

Reese has served on the SFA Faculty Senate and was chair during the 2018-19 academic year and chair-elect the year prior. However, Reese said one of the greatest honors he has received at SFA is the confidence his peers and administrators placed in him to develop the sports business program, which was approved by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board in 2015.

“It is my belief that using an experiential learning approach gives students the ability to critically analyze problems our industry is facing daily,” Reese added, “and better prepares them for the challenges they will face after graduation.”

Reese has published 12 peer-reviewed journal articles since 2013 with two others at press, and he also has published three book chapters and six abstracts. He has taken part in 39 peer-reviewed conference proceedings, and he has been invited to present twice at the German Sport University in Cologne, Germany.

Dr. Daniel Unger
Since joining the Arthur Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture faculty in 1998, Unger has routinely engaged in research initiatives spanning multiple fields, all of which keep his expertise current in rapidly evolving technical fields.

In the past five years alone, Unger has published 38 articles and one book, and he has served as creator and editor-in-chief of the Journal of Geospatial Applications in Natural Resources. Since 2014, he also has been a part of approximately 130 conference and poster presentations and produced 16 journal abstracts.

“Dr. Unger is an effective educator producing ‘society-ready foresters’ with the avocation of ‘make a difference, work outdoors and use high-end technology’ in the field of geospatial science in natural resources,” said Dr. Hans M. Williams, professor and dean of the College of Forestry and Agriculture. “Dr. Unger takes an active role in the scholarship of teaching and learning, emphasizing hands-on learning in both field and laboratory environments.”

Unger studied at Purdue University, where he graduated with two Bachelor of Science degrees, one in general management and the other in forestry. He received his Master of Science in forest resources from Pennsylvania State University in 1991 before attending the University of Idaho, where he earned a doctoral degree in forestry, wildlife and range sciences in 1995.

“I have had the good fortune of working with Dr. Unger since his arrival in 1998,” said Dr. David Kulhavy, SFA Laurence C. Walker Distinguished Professor. “Since that time, Dr. Unger has dedicated himself to the scholarship of teaching and learning in spatial science, an ever-changing discipline.”

Unger is skilled in the use of unmanned aerial systems, or drones; Pictometry, a hyperspatial remote-sensing platform; Google Earth Pro; and Resistograph, a high-resolution needle drill device that measures values and density of wood, among many other geospatial and forestry technologies.

Unger actively seeks funding in support of geospatial science and other endeavors, garnering 27 research grants totaling approximately $1.2 million.

“Dr. Unger always tries to incorporate research in his teaching,” said Dr. I-Kuai Hung, SFA professor of spatial science and Lacy H. Hunt Distinguished Professor. “I team up with him at our Forestry Field Station, where I see firsthand how he incorporates up-to-date technologies while still maintaining the fundamental skill sets needed for this profession.”

Most recently, Unger received the Carl Alwin Schenck Teaching Award from the Society of American Foresters. He also was awarded first place in the photogrammetry category at the 62nd annual Association of Southern Forestry Clubs conclave, which took place in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, earlier this year.

31st annual SFA Gala
The Gala cocktail reception begins at 6 p.m. and will be followed by dinner at 7 p.m. Entertainment will be provided by Royal Dukes of Houston, a high-energy band playing music from pop, rock and jazz to rhythm and blues, funk, and Motown.

Tickets are $175 for orchestra seating and $125 for ballroom seating.

For more information or to purchase tickets, call April Smith, associate director of development, at (936) 468-5406.