Kemper award patrol at KU makes call on seven faculty

Lawrence,KS (08-22-2003)

From Lawrence-Journal World
By Terry Rombeck

John Kelly didn't know what to think when his boss -- Kansas University Chancellor Robert Hemenway -- bolted into his Biology 841 class Thursday.

"This is either very good or very bad," Kelly said.

Turned out, it was $5,000 of goodness.

Kelly, assistant professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, was one of seven KU faculty members who Thursday were handed $5,000 checks and given W.T. Kemper Fellowships for Teaching Excellence.

Another 13 will receive the award today and next week. Faculty members were selected by a seven-member committee of students, faculty and alumni that chooses among nominees.

The program, in its eighth year, is funded by the William T. Kemper Foundation and the KU Endowment Association.

Hemenway leads an entourage of people into professors' first day of classes each fall semester to give the awards.

The unannounced visit left Kelly speechless.

Jonathan Earle, KU assistant professor of history, right, acknowledges department faculty and friends gathered at the door to his classroom with a salute after being presented a $5,000 Kemper Fellowship from Chancellor Robert Hemenway, left. A "surprise patrol" handed out seven of the awards to KU professors Thursday in recognition of their excellence in teaching and advising. In all, 20 KU faculty members will be recognized in the next few days with the awards.

"When people get an award at the Oscars and say they weren't prepared, they're lying," he said. "I'm not. I have no idea what to say."

Perry Alexander, associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science, had a similar reaction after receiving his $5,000 check.

"It makes me wish I owned a tie," he said.

Alexander said he'd been told Wednesday that Stuart Bell, dean of the School of Engineering, would be coming to his class to discuss KU's new engineering building, Eaton Hall. It apparently was a ploy to keep him from letting class out early.

"I went home and told my wife, The dean's coming to my class tomorrow. Why is he interrupting my class for this administrative stuff?'"

Jonathan Earle, assistant professor of history, said he had just told his students not to come to class if they were going to be late because it was too much of a distraction.

"And then the chancellor walked in," Earle said. "That's the good kind of interruption. I didn't mind that."

Richard Hale, assistant professor of aerospace engineering and another Kemper winner, said receiving such awards wasn't why he got into teaching.

"That means almost nothing," he said, pointing to the $5,000 check. "Getting to work with students every day means everything."

Other Kemper winners Thursday were Charles Eldredge, professor of art history; John Head, professor of law; and Stephen Fawcett, professor of human development and family life.

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