Above and Beyond: Professor Courtney Byrd’s Surprise Honor

”I don’t know how to say ‘thank you’ in a way that conveys how I feel,” Courtney Byrd said, flanked by her husband and three children.

On Thursday morning, Byrd, a professor of communication sciences and disorders, was presented with the 2016 Friar Centennial Teaching Fellowship at a surprise event. Since 1987, the honor has been awarded annually to a faculty member who has attained distinction in teaching undergraduates and has made a significant contribution to UT-Austin above and beyond his or her duties. Members of the Longhorn Band, the Cowboys, Blazers, and Orange Jackets walked in unexpectedly during her morning class, and trumpeter Kevin Kwaku played “The Eyes of Texas” as students sang along and presented her with a $25,000 check. Byrd was emotional as she gave a short speech thanking her nominators.

“The thing that I want for each of you is to find the thing that you love,” said Byrd, who has been at UT for 10 years. “Thank you for the light that you guys give me, because you guys help me to be a better person and and better mom.”

One speech pathology major in attendance said, “I think that Dr. Byrd cares so much about her students, not only in how they perform in class, but in how they reach their goals and the type of people that they are in their world.”

For more on Byrd, check out this Hook episode, called “Stutter Steps.”


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