3 from Texas State honored with TSUS Regents' Awards for 2023

Inside TXST

Jayme Blaschke | November 23, 2022

The Texas State University System Board of Regents has named three Texas State University representatives recipients of the 2023 Regents’ Awards.

The Regents’ Awards recognize outstanding faculty, staff and students from the seven TSUS member institutions.

Jason Kwak, a professor in the School of Music, and Jon Lasser, a professor in the Department of Counseling, Leadership, Adult Education and School Psychology, have been named Regents’ Professors. Precious Orusa, a junior nursing major, received the Regents' Student Scholar Award.

The board approved the honors during its quarterly meeting Nov. 18 at Texas State.

The Regents’ Professor designation honors outstanding members of the system’s professoriate who have achieved excellence in teaching, research, publication and community service, while demonstrating an unwavering dedication to their students and university. Kwak and Lasser are the 21st and 22nd TSUS Regents’ Professors to be honored at Texas State.

It is a lifetime designation bestowed by the Board of Regents upon tenured full professors who have been acknowledged as exceptional by their peers and students, and recommended by the TSUS Foundation Board of Directors, the chancellor and their university president.

jason kwak wearing medal around neck

Kwak came to Texas State in 2008 from Texas A&M University-Kingsville. He earned his degrees in piano performance from Eastman School of Music and the University of Texas at Austin.

As coordinator of the keyboard area and graduate advisor, Kwak has built an impressive record in teaching, research/performance and service. An internationally recognized pianist, he has performed throughout the U.S. and in 17 countries around the world, with 21 solo concerto performances with orchestra accompaniment as well as 34 international performances and 97 national performances.

Kwak has built the Texas State International Piano Festival into a world-renowned event featuring pianists from 42 countries and six continents, while raising more than $500,000 in private funding to support the event. National Public Radio’s show, From the Top, broadcasted the event in 2013 and 2019. Kwak has also organized and hosted the Texas State Young Artist Piano Competition, co-founded Trio 488 and adjudicated 45 regional, national and international piano competitions since 2008.

Kwak approaches instruction with the intent to maximize students’ potential. In addition to recruiting students from the U.S., he has recruited from South Korea, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Italy, Mexico, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Lithuania, Taiwan and Ecuador. Through his teaching and mentorship, several of his students have won competitive national and international piano competitions, successfully completed doctorate degrees and gone on to become faculty members in higher education. He was inducted into the Steinway and Sons Teacher Hall of Fame in 2021 and was given the Outstanding Collegiate Teaching Award from the Austin District Music Teachers Association in 2018.

jon lasser wearing medal around neck

Lasser came to Texas State in 2001 from Eanes Independent School District. He earned his Ph.D. in school psychology from the University of Texas at Austin, M.S.Ed. in sexuality education from the University of Pennsylvania and his B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin.

He served as program coordinator for the bilingual, accredited school psychology program for seven years, chaired the Institutional Review Board for nine years and was associate dean in the College of Education for three years.

Lasser has authored seven books translated into five languages, eight book chapters and 42 peer-reviewed articles ranking him among the top 10 scholars in his field’s specialist faculty. He has received 12 grants with funding totaling nearly $2.5 million, presented 160 refereed and invited presentations and served on several review boards. His acclaimed School Psychologist as Counselor book has become the standard text in the field of school psychology. His book, Professional Ethics in Midwifery Practice, has been described as a must read for practicing midwives and his Grow Happy, Grow Grateful and Grow Kind series is widely used in schools, libraries, counselor offices and homes to encourage empathy in young children.

An innovative and transformational teacher, Lasser has prepared future school psychologists with clinical skills, mentored theses and doctoral students and impacted counseling education well beyond Texas State. His groundbreaking advances in curriculum and field-based learning opportunities, engaging instruction and caring mentorship have been recognized through positive class evaluations, exceptional comments and numerous teaching and research awards.

precious orusa speaking behind podium

Orusa, the sixth Regents’ Scholar at Texas State, is a junior from Nigeria. Regents’ Scholars are selected by the chancellor based on outstanding academic achievement and scholarship, leadership abilities, and contributions to the institution and their community. In addition to a framed resolution and medallion, Regents’ Scholars receive $2,500 credited toward their educational expenses.

Orusa has a cumulative grade point average of 3.93 and has earned Dean's List recognition every semester since fall 2019. She has earned the Texas State Achievement Award every semester since fall 2019 and received the Star Scholars Excellence Award in fall 2019 and spring 2020.

Orusa is a member of Phi Kappa Phi honor society, Alpha Lambda Delta honor society and the Student Nursing Organization. She was elected vice president of the nursing class of 2023 and serves as president of the Redeemed Campus Fellowship. Her volunteer activities include the planning committee for the nursing class of 2022 pinning ceremony, Central Texas Food Bank, San Marcos Downtown Clean-up and the Great Texas River Clean-Up.  

For more information, contact University Communications:

Jayme Blaschke, 512-245-2555

Sandy Pantlik, 512-245-2922