Alexander Byrd’s celebrated teaching career at Rice has been lauded with numerous honors, from the Rice University Presidential Mentoring Award n 2010 to the George R. Brown Award for Superior Teaching — which Byrd has won four times.

And now, the Minnie Stevens Piper Foundation has recognized Byrd as one of this year’s 10 Piper Professors.

The Piper Foundation, a nonprofit charitable corporation, has honored outstanding professors nominated by colleges and universities in Texas each year since 1958.

“I’m extraordinarily grateful to the Piper Foundation for this recognition,” Byrd said. “The acknowledgement is wonderful and powerfully challenging.”

Byrd began his college career at Rice, receiving his bachelor’s degree in 1990. He returned to Rice as a research scholar while completing his doctorate at Duke University and came home once again in 2001, joining the faculty as an assistant professor in the Department of History. After 11 years as a faculty associate at Baker College, Byrd served as magister of Wiess College from 2011 to 2016.

Today, Byrd is the associate dean of humanities and associate professor of history, widely admired for his mentoring skills and captivating classroom presence.

Byrd’s area of expertise is Afro America, especially Black life in the Atlantic world and the Jim Crow South.

Among his most recent work, Byrd served on the steering committee for Rice’s newly formed Center for African and African American Studies and was seminal in developing its new intro course, “Knowing Blackness: Introduction to African and African American Studies.” Byrd also teaches “Race, Education and Society in the Urban South” and “The Black City: African American Urban Life in the United States” among other popular courses.