Archive for Thursday, August 20, 2009

New chancellor surprises KU faculty with $5,000 Kemper awards

Deborah Smith, associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at Kansas University, left, got a surprise visit from Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little, right, and received a $5,000 W.T. Kemper Fellowship on Thursday. Smith was honored during her class on the biology of insects in Stauffer-Flint Hall. In all, 20 professors will be honored and $100,000 distributed this year as part of the Kemper awards.

Deborah Smith, associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at Kansas University, left, got a surprise visit from Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little, right, and received a $5,000 W.T. Kemper Fellowship on Thursday. Smith was honored during her class on the biology of insects in Stauffer-Flint Hall. In all, 20 professors will be honored and $100,000 distributed this year as part of the Kemper awards.

August 20, 2009, 3:57 p.m. Updated August 20, 2009, 4:34 p.m.

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KU professors receive awards

The first of 20 Kemper Awards was given to a KU professor Thursday afternoon. The award recognizes excellence in teaching and is presented to professors each year. University administrators, including the chancellor, present the $5,000 gift. Enlarge video

As students found their way to the first day of classes at Kansas University Thursday, the annual “surprise patrol” of KU administrators sought out professors singled out for Kemper awards.

The W.T. Kemper Fellowships are awarded to 20 professors for outstanding teaching and advising as determined by a seven-member selection committee.

Deborah Smith, associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, was the first recipient of the $5,000 award in her class on the biology of insects in Stauffer-Flint Hall Thursday morning.

New KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little congratulated Smith personally along with several other university leaders.

“This means you won’t have the quiz I was going to give you,” Smith joked with her students shortly after the group took several minutes congratulating her.

Gray-Little said she had never done anything quite like that before, and said she enjoyed the experience and what the award stood for.

“It is clear how much it meant to her to have her work recognized and it’s just very inspiring to see it,” Gray-Little said.

Smith said the award came as a “really big surprise” and that her pulse was racing during the rest of her morning class.

An entomologist, Smith is teaching courses this semester on insects and spiders. She said she always tries to make her courses accessible to anyone who works hard and can demonstrate what they’ve learned.

She said people take her class about the biology of spiders for a variety of reasons.

“Usually there’s at least one person who’s trying to cure a phobia,” she said.

And she’s never met one yet who has run screaming out of the classroom upon hearing one of the requirements of the class: keeping a pet spider for the entire semester.

Other professors winning awards Thursday afternoon included: Andrea Greenhoot, associate professor of psychology; Ruth Ann Atchley, associate professor of psychology; and Heather Desaire, associate professor of chemistry.

Awards will continue to be given out in the coming days until Sept. 2. The award is funded by a $650,000 grant from the William T. Kemper Foundation and matched with $650,000 in matching funds by the KU Endowment Association.

In all, the 20 recipients will receive $100,000 this year as the awards are distributed.

Comments

ralphralph 5 years, 11 months ago

"Heather Desaire" and "professor of chemistry" don't seem to be naturally compatible phrases.

Tammy Copp-Barta 5 years, 11 months ago

While I'm sure there are some great faculty out there .. they already make lots of (not tons) of money .. what about the people that keep the lights on .. why aren't they every surprised with a big check for what they do ... the Administrative Associates that are there from 7:30 - 5:30 .. when a lot of faculty show up about 1/2 hour before class and may stay that long after ... they do the copying, answer phones, work with students, do all the departmental paperwork, order supplies - etc. .. OR the custodial staff that come in at night and clean the buildings and the classrooms FOR the faculty ... or the IT people that answer the same questions over and over and fix the same problems over and over for faculty who can't figure out how to even turn on a computer half the time ...

das 5 years, 11 months ago

Kemper criteria.... http://www.provost.ku.edu/policy/faculty/docs/kemper_nominations.pdf

"Criteria: This award is intended to honor faculty who have demonstrated outstanding teaching and advising. Teaching may be defined to include work with students at any level and in a wide variety of settings in which instructional activity occurs at a comprehensive university, including in public outreach efforts. Evidence of superior advising should illustrate the nominee’s concern for student development beyond the normal expectations for advising held for each faculty member at this institution."

So.....basically, giving a dang at all about students as opposed to your Research quota makes you eligible....I'd love to know what the "normal expectations for advising" are.

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