Jacqueline E. Bixler, Alumni Distinguished Professor of Spanish and chair of the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, received the Outstanding Faculty Award of the 2016 State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, better known as SCHEV.

The award, sponsored by the Dominion Foundation, is the commonwealth’s highest honor for faculty in Virginia’s public and private colleges and universities, recognizing their commitment to excellence in teaching, research, knowledge integration, and public service. ‘Bixler was one of just 13 faculty members statewide to receive the 2016 award.

“I came to Virginia Tech in 1980, thinking that it would just be for a short while and that I would then look for a school with a Ph.D. program in Spanish,” Bixler said. “By 1989, I had three children and knew that Blacksburg was where I wanted to raise them. More importantly, I knew that I wanted to devote myself to undergraduate education, that Virginia Tech was exactly where I wanted to be, and that there could be no job more exciting or rewarding than that of being a teaching scholar.”

Bixler is an inductee in the Academy of Teaching Excellence and has won the Alumni Excellence in Teaching Award, Diggs Teaching Scholar Award, and three Certificates of Teaching Excellence.

In her teaching, she focuses on the Spanish language, including grammar, conversation, and translation, in addition to Hispanic culture, literature, and film. After trips to Mexico and Spain solidified her love of the culture while in college herself, Bixler encourages students to study abroad and explore the world and cultures outside the United States.

“In 2008, I traveled to Mexico with Bixler and other students to spend a summer learning Spanish,” said alumna Jessica Earl, who earned a bachelor’s degree in Spanish in 2010. “From that moment on, I decided that my path in life would somehow include Spanish and Latin America. I am now a bilingual attorney in Puerto Rico thanks to that gentle push from Bixler when I was merely a teen to step out and explore a world outside my comfort zone.”

In her research, Bixler is an internationally recognized scholar of contemporary Latin American theatre. She has published seven books. One of her biggest honors was an invitation to speak in front of 2,000 Mexicans following the death of the country’s famous contemporary dramatist, Emilio Carballido.

“It is a very rare faculty member who truly excels across all areas of their professional life,” said Elizabeth Spiller, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences. ”When that happens, though, it invariably involves a faculty member who has successfully internalized and integrated the too often disparate missions of higher education in the way that we hope for. Jackie Bixler is such a faculty member.”

Bixler received her bachelor’s degree from Ohio University and her master’s degree and doctorate from the University of Kansas. She serves as editor of the journal Latin American Theatre Review.

Written by Alison Matthiessen, who holds both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in communication from Virginia Tech