Helena resident recognized with 2017 UM Faculty Service Award

Published 3:30 pm Friday, October 20, 2017


MONTEVALLO–During the celebration of the University of Montevallo 121st Founders’ Day on Oct. 12, the University honored deserving UM staff, faculty and alumni for their service.

The Faculty Senate recognized Helena resident Dr. Houston Byrd with the Faculty Service Award for 2017.

Byrd joined the University of Montevallo faculty in 1995 as an instructor, and now serves as the department chair for biology, chemistry and mathematics. He received his Ph.D. in inorganic/materials chemistry from the University of Florida in 1994, after which he spent a year at Princeton University as a post-doctoral research associate.

“As a chair, Houston not only wants input from his faculty but actively requests that we all sit down with him individually to discuss our department’s future, which includes planning our path for the next five years,” Assistant Professor of Game Studies and Design Dr. Cathlena Martin said. “He is a mentor to untenured faculty and helps us well beyond what is expected of a department chair. The way in which he has fully committed himself to the growth and development of our university is fully apparent in his long tenure of service. Montevallo is truly a better place thanks to Houston.”

In addition to his role as department chair, Byrd has also served as chair for numerous committees on campus including the Committee on the Review and Revision of General Education, the Quality Enhancement Plan Steering and Development Committee, the Undergraduate Research Day committee and the Local Arrangements Committee of The Alabama Academy of Sciences.

Byrd is the former recipient of the Outstanding Commitment to Teaching Award presented by the University of Montevallo National Alumni Association in 2002, and received the title of University of Montevallo Scholar in 2006. He has nearly 40 publications in prestigious journals and has presented across the United States.

“It may sound a bit simplistic, but I think it’s true: Houston is simply a wonderful department chair,” Assistant Professor of Mathematics Dr. Scott Varagona said. “He works hard to support his department, and he is even-handed, conscientious, efficient and profoundly professional in all his interactions with students and faculty. I believe he sets a good example not just for his own faculty, but for other administrators on campus as well.”