Archive for Friday, August 24, 2012

Surprise ending

A long-standing program to reward teachers at Kansas University will be missed.

August 24, 2012


A program that had become an uplifting annual tradition at Kansas University over the last 16 years has come to an end.

For the first time since 1996, the group that became known as the “surprise patrol” won’t be making its rounds on the KU campus this year to notify faculty members that they have been chosen to receive one of the William T. Kemper Fellowships for Teaching Excellence. The “patrol,” usually made up of the chancellor and other top administrators, sometimes joined by representatives of the Kemper Foundation, would swoop into classrooms to surprise teachers and their students with the award announcements.

Each award came with a $7,500 check, but, for many faculty members, the act of being formally recognized for their work was perhaps even more valuable than the money. Over the 16 years of the program, more than $1.55 million was distributed to more than 300 KU faculty members in almost every academic discipline. Funds for the program came from the Kemper Foundation and the KU Endowment Association.

KU plans to mark the end of the fellowship program and honor the contributions of the Kemper Foundation and all the recipients of the teaching fellowships at a reception on Sept. 12. The KU community certainly owes the Kemper Foundation a huge “thank you” for a program that was started at the University of Missouri in 1991 and expanded to KU in 1996. Special mention should be made of Jim Kemper, Jonathan Kemper, David Kemper and the late William T. Kemper for making this award possible.

Visits by the surprise patrol were a delightful way to start off the school year. The shock and gratitude of teachers receiving the award was heartwarming to see. KU has other high-profile teaching awards, but there was a special joy to interrupting teachers in the middle of doing what they do best and thanking them publicly and financially for the work they do.

All good things must come to an end, but what can KU and another generous donor do to continue to reward outstanding teachers at the university?


Thomas Bryce Jr. 5 years, 8 months ago

Hmm. NO mention as to why the program is being ended after so many successful years. Inquiring minds want to know. Was this program meant to be a finite length of time or did the funding dry up? Too bad. That type of recognition is important to the teachers as well as KU.

P Allen Macfarlane 5 years, 8 months ago

None of us on the research side of KU were ever offered more than a token of the amount offered to teaching faculty as a reward for doing our jobs.

parrothead8 5 years, 8 months ago

Perhaps that's because these fellowships were for "teaching excellence."

took_the_money_and_ran 5 years, 8 months ago

Well there is the Research Achievement Award, worth $10K, if we want to be picky. If we want to be snarky, the best lecturer at KU (lecturers weren't Kemper-eligible) is pretty likely to be a better teacher than the 301st-best tenure track faculty member.

P Allen Macfarlane 5 years, 8 months ago

What you say is true, but how many of these do they dole out each year. I bet it is far fewer than for the Kemper.

Thomas Bryce Jr. 5 years, 8 months ago

Amen! My wife is a lecturer. Her workload is more than twice what a tenured faculty member's is and she still does research and her own work as well as Study abroad in the summer. But, like it is stated above, she is Not eligible for a Teaching Excellence Award. Absurd! She has a Master's Degree and Received a Fulbright Scholarship and Teaches about 100 students per semester. But, NOT eligible for a Teaching Excellence Award. Hope that is one of the things they change.

Thomas Bryce Jr. 5 years, 8 months ago

F.O. Employees are still eligible for Employee of the Month which, I believe, is a 500 dollar check and puts you in the running for Employee of the Year(not sure about the award amount here). Most employees view this as a popularity contest because the people that do some of the most demanding and thankless jobs are never seen. You have to have a lot of nominations to be considered. If you work your tail off but no body nominates you because they are busy working their tails off too, doesn't leave you with a lot of respect for the system of choosing an employee for the award. Seemed like the same departments or offices always had a winner.

somedude20 5 years, 8 months ago

Keep the surprise ending but please, please, please bring back the happy endings!!

james bush 5 years, 8 months ago

Poor job of jounalizing.................WHY!? Doubting Thomas said.

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