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Dr. James Ward

Distinguished Faculty Achievement
Teaching his first geology class at Angelo State changed Dr. James Ward’s life.

  • Dr. James Ward sees the outdoors as a giant teaching lab.
    Dr. James Ward sees the outdoors as a giant teaching lab.

I instantly knew what I wanted to do for the remainder of my career. It made me want to make West Texas a better place.

Dr. Ward

“I instantly knew what I wanted to do for the remainder of my career,” the Balmorhea native said. “It made me want to make West Texas a better place.”

Since joining the ASU faculty in 2010, Ward has been working to do that through his teaching and research. For his efforts, he has received multiple teaching awards, including both the ASU President’s Award and the Texas Tech University System Chancellor’s Award for Faculty Excellence in Teaching in 2015.

He has also been awarded more than $300,000 in research grants. Most recently, he was co-recipient of a 2015 Shell Research Gift to fund a project titled “Rangeland Restoration Projects in West Texas,” and he has worked on other projects funded by the Environmental Protection Agency and National Science Foundation.

In addition to being a teacher and scientist, Ward is also an innovator. When his rheumatoid arthritis began to hamper his ability to work in the field and lead his students on geological field trips, he helped train and equip his own service dog, Beau. With Beau’s help, Ward continues to provide the hands-on field training that prepares his students for geology careers after graduation.

Ward and Beau have been featured on the ASU website, and Ward has been invited to share their story at various professional conferences.

In recognition of his teaching excellence and his tireless efforts on behalf of his students, the ASU Alumni Association has selected Ward for the 2016 Distinguished Faculty Achievement Award.

“As a professor, you don’t always know you’re making an impact,” he said. “When you get something like this, you realize that maybe you are making a difference after all.”