There was a priceless expression of surprise on his face when Mays Business School Distinguished Professor of marketing Leonard Berry turned away from his students to find Elsa Murano, president of Texas A&M University, had entered his classroom. President Murano interrupted Berry’s lecture to present the speechless instructor with one of the university’s highest recognitions, the Presidential Professor for Teaching Excellence award.
Established five years ago by former university president Robert Gates, the award recognizes the best in Texas A&M’s faculty. The prestigious title, given to two professors annually, follows recipients for the duration of their teaching career. Berry will formally receive the award at this year’s commencement ceremonies on May 10, along with a check for $25,000.
President Murano made a surprise visit to one of Dr. Berry’s classes to give him the good news.
When presenting the honor, President Murano said to Berry, “You were selected by a committee of peers for your outstanding achievements and for the service you provide for these young people who will be running the world one day. We are here to reward you for your efforts and to thank you.”
This kind of recognition is nothing new for Berry, who has been honored for the excellence of his instruction and research many times in his career. His accolades began in 1970 when he received his first teaching honor, the Cecil Puckett Award, at the University of Denver. Since then, he has collected many impressive honors, including the Association of Former Students’ University-Level Distinguished Achievement Award in teaching, and at the national level, the highly prestigious Academy of Marketing Science Outstanding Teacher Award.
According to Jeff Conant, marketing department head, “Len Berry is simply one of the best teachers I know. He is a dedicated and innovative educator who has excelled in the teaching of undergraduate, MBA, Executive MBA, Ph.D., and most recently medical school students. Len’s courses are fiercely popular and for good reason. His enthusiasm is contagious, his ability to integrate cutting-edge knowledge into his classes impressive, and his capacity for inspiring students legendary.”
An expert on healthcare service, in recent years Berry has focused his research efforts on improving the U.S. healthcare industry. He has done extensive field research in service delivery and service quality at the Mayo Clinic and he engages his students with relevant and captivating lectures based on his own experiences in healthcare. In his nomination for his most recent award, appreciative students mentioned Berry’s lessons as being motivational and a major contribution to their own success.
In addition to these achievements, Berry has the distinction of being the only faculty member to hold joint appointments with Mays Business School and the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine, giving testimony to the integrative and valuable nature of his research.
“Dr. Berry has shown an extraordinary ability to communicate with our students with passion and enthusiasm. Lately we are using Dr. Berry to educate other faculty on improving their teaching skills because of his advanced and natural way to teach,” said Charles Sanders MD, Berry’s department head in the College of Medicine.
Berry’s reaction to the award sums up his constant involvement in his students’ lives. “I love these students…I’m proud to receive this award, and I’m especially proud to have them share it with me,” said Berry.
At Mays, Berry holds the title of M.B. Zale Chair in Retailing and Marketing Leadership. He has been on the faculty at Mays since 1982 when he helped to establish the Center for Retailing Studies and served as its first director.