The Cougar Fight Song might very well be the theme song for Professor Simon Bott. The beloved chemistry professor, who over his 15 years at UH, has become synonymous with Cougar Pride. In the name of student success, he is an intentional cheerleader for UH, from his classes to his daily red UH shirt.
“I have a little over 600 shirts,” he says with a laugh. “[The collection] shows a nice history of how the UH logo and slogan has changed over the last few years.”
Bott, whose freshman and sophomore chemistry classes are always a sea of red shirts, says his formula for student success includes mixing his lectures with speakers and information on UH news and campus events.
“I try to make this not only a chemistry class, but a UH class. I feel so strongly that an education is so much more than just classroom content,” he says.
Bott says students who are engaged with their university are more likely to continue through to graduation. To that end, he has created opportunities to helps students reach that goal. For example, when students attend campus events they collect “UH Trading Cards” for a chance to win prizes and even scholarships. Additionally, he has recruited staff members to participate in the PALs program, which partners and mentors first year students.
“This is a developmental part of their life. They’re changing from a teenager into a young adult,” he says. “I think it’s part of our role as faculty members to work with that process, to encourage, to expand their minds and their personalities. That’s an integral part of the class.”
No surprise that Bott has won many teaching awards, most recently the prestigious Piper Professor award from the Minnie Stevens Piper Foundation. The award recognizes superior teaching. He hopes students, past and present, remember UH fondly.
“If whenever they talk to someone and say, ‘yeah, I went to UH,’ that they’ve got pride in their voices, knowing that they’ve maximized what they can get our of their time here. That’s really the main thing.”
Simon Bott is part of what’s happening at the University of Houston. I’m Marisa Ramirez.