The Texas A&M University System has awarded $526,000 to outstanding faculty throughout the system for the spring 2010 presentation of the Teaching Excellence Awards, a voluntary, student-selected honors program.

The 161 faculty winners will receive checks ranging from $2,500 to $10,000. Four of the honorees are engineering faculty members.

Dr. Paul Gratz, assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, was among the winners in the top 5 percent category from Texas A&M.

Also recognized from the Dwight Look College of Engineering is Dr. Yunlong Zhang, assistant professor in the Zachry Department of Civil Engineering, and Dr. Lin Shao, assistant professor in the Department of Nuclear Engineering.

Dr. Sandun Fernando, assistant professor in the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering, was recognized from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

Texas A&M had the most total recipients, with 47, followed by Texas A&M University-Commerce, 26; Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, 17; Prairie View A&M University, 15; Texas A&M University-Kingsville, 10; Texas A&M International University, 10; West Texas A&M University, 9; Texas A&M University-Texarkana, 9; Tarleton State University, 7; Texas A&M University at Galveston, 6; Texas A&M University-San Antonio, 4; and Texas A&M University-Central Texas, 1.

The recipients represent the top 20 percent of those who participated in the A&M System program. The top 5 percent are awarded $5,000 to $10,000. The next 15 percent receive $2,500 to $5,000. Awards are based on rankings from evaluations created and administered by students, with weighting for factors such as class size.

The Teaching Excellence Awards were initiated by Chancellor Michael D. McKinney in 2008 to honor and financially reward the system’s top teachers as selected by students. All faculty members who teach at least a 3-hour course are eligible.

“This program allows students to recognize the many outstanding teachers that we have across the A&M System,” said McKinney. “While we are proud to extend our financial appreciation to these faculty members, these awards are about giving credit to those who give their best each day for their students, and ultimately to the state of Texas.”

To date, 593 faculty members in the A&M System have received $2 million in excellence awards funds since the program started in 2008.