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UTB COLLEGE OF EDUCATION DEAN ESCOTET HONORED AS THE HOUSTON ENDOWMENT CHAIR

The University of Texas at Brownsville has three Houston Endowment Chairs: Education, Civic Engagement, and Science, Math and Engineering. UTB honored its College of Education Dean, Dr. Miguel Ángel Escotet, on Friday, August 24, 2012 during the President's Convocation by naming him as holder of the Houston Endowment Chair in Education.

Dr. Juliet V. Garcia said, "It is an honor to name you as the holder of the Houston Endowment Chair in Education at The Univeristy of Texas at Brownsville. Your commitment to our students, your college, and to scholarship and service has been commended by the Provost, and it is my pleasure to present you with this honor."

Following is the acceptance speech of the holder of the Houston Endowed Chair in Education, Dr. Miguel Ángel Escotet:

Thank you very much! I am deeply honored to become a Houston Endowed Chair in Education. For me, it represents many things, perhaps the most important the recognition of my colleagues as someone who works with dedication for this every-day miracle of touching the future that we call education. I am grateful to know that my contribution is valued to this extent. And I am also grateful and proud of the recognition and recommendation by people as dedicated to perfection in his work as our President Juliet Garcia and her closed collaborator, Provost Alan Artibise. At the same time, I want to express very special thanks to the faculty and administrative colleagues of the University.

I would also like to convey my gratitude to the distinguished group of colleagues, the faculty of the College of Education, for their support and understanding. They all make me feel that I have grown as a professional and as a human being due to my involvement with a warm, committed and gifted group of people.

Perhaps, I am here receiving this honor, because I am a lover of philosophy who believes in getting things done. I have said in many occasions that the most practical thing in the world is to believe in the impossible, and not “being paralyzed by hesitation” as I learned many years ago from Bertrand Russell, the philosopher who warned us not only against blind skepticism but also against the passive agreement of dogmas.

We live in a world in turmoil, a world of collapsing ideas and crashed ideologies. At the same time, it is a world of splendid technologies that we could use not only for entertainment or economic growth, but also for bettering our understanding of our planet and the people who populated it. The most unpractical behavior is to solve today’s problems with the same ideas that generated them, and to accept without questioning the dogmas of the past.

As educators, we must emphasize the idea that we are children of a non-infinite planet of the solar system, and as such, what we consume and what we waste will affect all of us. We cannot teach those concepts in terms of content knowledge and efficiency; we have to teach them, also, in terms of ethical responsibility. As I said before, the most practical thinking in the world is to believe in the impossible. At this moment, it may sounds too idealistic, too difficult, almost impossible to mention ethics, but the lack of it, is one of the causes of violence and it is at the root of our present social and economic crises.

Education is not only teaching to the content or teaching for developing cognitive and metacognitive variables. This objective not only is good; it is absolutely necessary. But, education is also developing psychological attitudes and dispositions in order to use the knowledge to help present and future generations to live with decency and dignity as human beings. Education is never teaching to the test but teaching to the heart. At this moment in my educational career, I still consider this my major concern. It is no longer a question of what kind of future we want; it is a question of having or not having a future. Ethical and affective education will be one of the major research tasks that I want to continue pursuing with the advantage of this Endowment Chair.

Finally, I am not sure if I deserved this honored award. It was given to me for doing what I am supposed to do: being a learner, a facilitator of learning, a scholar and a helper to develop a person’s intellectual and affective domains, and to become myself a better person. But something I am sure about, is that many people here today deserve also to be honored. I am deeply moved by your friendship, collegiality and humanity.

Muchas gracias, thank you very much.

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