Twenty KU faculty will be awarded $5,000 Kemper fellowships for outstanding teaching.
Kansas University associate professor Charlene Muehlenhard interrupted her first-day-of-the-semester spiel Thursday to slam both doors to her classroom.
All the better to block out commotion in the hallway distracting her and about 40 students in a women's studies class at Wescoe Hall.
"Was another class scheduled at this time?" Muehlenhard wondered.
The noise was made by about 25 members of KU's prize patrol making surprise visits to classrooms on campus to distribute $5,000 checks to faculty.
Muehlenhard was among nine KU faculty to be honored Thursday with a W.T. Kemper Fellowship for Teaching Excellence.
During classes today and Monday, another 11 faculty at KU and KU Medical Center will be recognized and handed $5,000.
This is the second year of the five-year program developed by the Kemper Foundation-Commerce Bank and KU Endowment Association. In the end, 100 faculty will have received the fellowships worth $500,000.
Winners can spend the cash any way they want.
"Wow," said Muehlenhard, reduced to monosyllable words. "Thanks. Gosh. I had no idea."
Her students, shaken from a routine narration about the textbook, exam schedule, homework and extra credit, applauded.
KU Chancellor Robert Hemenway said the program was a great way to pay tribute to scholars who demonstrated a commitment to teaching.
"These Kemper awardees exemplify what it takes to be a great research university dedicated to student learning," he said.
Big winners Thursday:
- Muehlenhard, associate professor of psychology and women's studies.
- Helen Alexander, associate professor in the departments of botany and systematics and ecology.
- Charles Snyder, professor of psychology and director of the clinical psychology program.
- Ted Wilson, professor of history. A former graduate student said Wilson's philosophy is: "Once my student, always my student."
- Chris Segrin, associate professor of communication studies.
- Dennis Quinn, professor of English. At KU since 1956, he's a co-founder of KU's great-books course for freshmen and sophomores.
- David Smith, associate professor of psychology.
- Barbara Schowen, professor of chemistry and director of KU's honors program.
- Sally Frost-Mason, professor of biochemistry and, since April 1996, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.