Though it took a little extra effort to find her, Kansas University visual art professor Judith McCrea got a happy surprise Thursday, on KU’s first day of classes.
As the first winner of KU’s 2010 W.T. Kemper Fellowships for Teaching Excellence, she got a visit from KU’s “Surprise Patrol” featuring Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little, Provost Jeff Vitter and Danny Anderson, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
However, when the group went to her scheduled classroom, she wasn’t there. But they tracked McCrea down in the Art and Design building’s snack bar, where she was hosting the first day of class.
“I feel like I’m going to cry in a minute,” McCrea said, after being congratulated by top university officials and receiving the $7,500 check that goes along with winning the award.
The annual awards are supported by gifts totaling $650,000 from the W.T. Kemper Foundation and $650,000 in matching funds from KU Endowment.
Vitter, who started in his new job last month, accompanied the surprise patrol for the first time. He said he enjoyed the opportunity to present an award to a deserving teacher.
“Professors don’t do this to get awards, but it’s so important to recognize them for what they do because it is selfless service in many ways,” Vitter said. “And it is changing students’ lives.”
McCrea earned the first of 10 Kemper awards to be given this year. Also on Thursday, KU officials presented awards to Gary Reich, associate professor of political science, and Cory Berkland, associate professor of chemical and petroleum engineering and pharmaceutical chemistry.
The remainder will be awarded this week and next week.