Chemistry Professor Named UNCP's Top Teacher


Paul FlowersDr. Paul Flowers is UNC Pemboke's 2002 recipient of the UNC Board of Governors Award for Teaching Excellence.

Dr. Flowers wins high praise from colleagues for his work in and out of the laboratory.

"I consider Paul to be the best scientist we have," a colleague in the Chemistry and Physics Department said. "He gives undergraduates an opportunity to do real research and to publish."

Dr. Flowers is the third member of his department to win North Carolina's top teaching award since it was established in 1994. The award includes a $7,500 cash prize.

"I feel undeserving. I did not expect to win, but I am honored," Dr. Flowers said. "If there is a reason for me to receive this award, it is not for my conventional teaching record, but because of my efforts directing and supervising undergraduate research."

"I am a firm believer in the use of experimental research as a context for teaching science to undergraduates," he said.

Presently funded by a three-year National Science Foundation grant, Dr. Flowers is conducting research on fiber optic sensors for taking on-site environmental measurements. Since beginning work at UNCP, several of his students have published their research with Dr. Flowers in internationally recognized scientific journals.

"In addition to sending graduates into industrial employment, we have had a good success rate in getting our students accepted to graduate programs," Dr. Flowers said.

Dr. Flowers' contributions to his students, the department and the university extend beyond the laboratory. He led a lengthy and successful effort to gain certification for UNCP's chemistry program by the American Chemical Society, the world's largest professional organization.

"ACS certification is the stamp of approval for our chemistry program," Dr. Flowers said. "Regardless of whether employers or graduate schools have heard about UNCP, they certainly know of the ACS."

"We're real proud of this accomplishment which can mean thousands of dollars a year in starting pay for our graduates," said Dr. Jose D'Arruda, chair of the Chemistry and Physics Department. "We are also real proud of Paul, who is very deserving of this important award."

Dr. Flowers will be honored by UNC President Molly Broad and the Board of Governors at a May 10 awards ceremony. Dr. Ruth Dial Woods, of Pembroke and one of 32 members of the Board of Governors, was chair of the awards committee.

The award is handed out annually to one professor on each of the 16 UNC campuses. It rewards a tenured faculty member who exemplifies the importance of teaching.

A native of Bennettsville, S.C., Dr. Flowers did his undergraduate work at nearby St. Andrews College in Laurinburg. He received a doctorate from the University of Tennessee. He has been with UNCP since 1989.