If you see a distinguished looking guy walking around the Sam Houston State University campus, covered with a polka dot pattern of small white smudges, it's probably Dr. Vic Sower, this year's winner of the Excellence in Teaching Award.

Sower is one of three winners of 1995-'96 faculty awards, including Dr. William Kilbourne, associate professor of marketing, who received the Excellence in Research Award, and Dr. William Fleming, professor of English, who received the Excellence in Service Award.

Sower, assistant professor of management, has taught at Sam Houston State since 1990. One semester a class did poorly on an exam, and Sower perceived that they were frustrated and angry. He handed out marshmallows and invited them to open fire.

"I had white spots all over me," he said. Then he picked up the marshmallows and returned fire.

After that the class was fine, Sower said, and he has not had to do it again. But he would if he thought it would improve the teaching/learning process.

Some of the other comments Sower has received from former students include:

"Believe it or not, not all teachers are willing to help students who need it..."

"I really put a lot of effort into your class and you recognized that."

"You were more concerned with whether the students learned the material rather than completing the material for the day."

"I enjoyed the day you passed out the marshmallows..."

Kilbourne has taught at SHSU since 1982. While his award is for research, he is also an excellent teacher as evidenced by recognition in that area from two other educational institutions at which he has taught. He earned a teaching excellence award in 1971 as a graduate student at the University of Houston, and was runner-up as Best Professor of the Year in 1974 on the California State University Humbolt campus.

For the last five years he has been researching the relationship between business and the natural environment. He has taken an interdisciplinary approach including work from political science, economics, ethics, ecology and technological theory.

"My purpose has been to integrate these disciplines to better understand the implications and impacts of mass production and consumption oriented societies on the natural environment," he said.

One of his recent presentations was on "The Socio-Economic Impact of Casino Gambling on Native Americans in California," presented at a conference in Santa Fe, New Mexico, in March. He also has three presentations scheduled for an international symposium in Geneva, Switzerland, in July, and another that month in Scotland.

Fleming, who has taught at SHSU since 1972, recently completed a year as president of the SHSU Alumni Association and is on the board of directors of the General Sam Houston Folk Festival. He has served previously on the University Faculty Senate, and has recently been elected to another term.

In addition to the numerous committees, boards, and activities for which he is a worker, he is also known as an excellent teacher, having reached the finalist level for that award seven times. He was also nominated for the service award twice previously.

"He has given an incredible amount of energy and time to our students," one of his nomination letters for this year's award said. "Through years as a general studies advisor, years as a summer orientation worker, years as advisor to fraternities and other student organizations, and years as supporter and participator in university events, whether they be academic or athletic."

"While working with colleagues, alumni, and townspeople has enabled me to grow professionally in so many ways, I must admit that the students are the ones who have given me perspective, insight, and satisfaction," said Fleming. "I find strength in their accomplishments and I agonize over their defeats."

The excellence winners will be recognized during the spring commencement program May 11. They also earn monetary awards of $1,200, $1,000, and $800 for teaching, research and service, in that order.


For more information, contact Frank Krystyniak at 409-294-1833, 409-295-8541 (home), or e-mail

April 30, 1996