Professors rake in cash

Lawrence,Kansas (08-22-2003)

From The University Daily Kansan
By Robert Perkins

John Kelly didn't expect to receive a check for $5,000 yesterday morning.

The assistant professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Kansas looked caught off guard and pleased as Chancellor Robert Hemenway led in a "surprise patrol" of University, Kansas University Endowment Association and Commerce Bank officials armed with an oversized cardboard check during his class.

"When people get the award at the Oscars, they say they weren't prepared," Kelly said. "But they're lying. I'm not."

Professor Kelly was the fifth of seven educators to win the W.T. Kemper Fellowships for Teaching Excellence today.

The Kemper Fellowships recognize the University's outstanding teachers and advisers with a monetary award.

"We try to put our money where our mouth is," Chancellor Hemenway said.

The award comes from a $500,000 fund established by the William T. Kemper Foundation, with matching funds from the Endowment Association.

This is the eighth year of the 10-year program that will have delivered $1 million by its completion - $100,000 each year to 20 teachers.

"The idea is to demonstrate that at KU, teaching is a million dollar enterprise," Hemenway said.

The other six winners of the award yesterday were W. Perry Alexander, associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science, Jonathan Earle, assistant professor of history, Charles Eldredge, professor of art history, Richard Hale, assistant professor of aerospace engineering, John Head, professor of law and Steven Fawcett, professor and senior scientist of human development and family life.

Craig Martin, department chairman for the division of biological sciences, said that he was overjoyed that Kelly won the award.

Hes unique he has an uncanny ability to explain exceedingly difficult concepts in an understandable fashion, Martin said.

Kelly, who was surprised during his biometry class, joked with his class when the Chancellor walked in.

I told them that this was either very good, or very bad, he said. Luckily, it turned out to be very good.

He has not yet decided how he will spend his award money, though he received several suggestions from his students.

The surprise patrol caught Professor Earle during his new Conspiracies and Paranoia in American History class.

Its a really weird and wonderful way to give the award, Earle said, admitting that he had not been prepared for the Chancellors appearance.

Unlike Martin, Earle has already earmarked his money for paying off credit card debt from a summer trip to England. He credited his subject matter in helping him to win the award. He said that American history was inherently interesting.

Coworkers praised both Earle and Kelly for their lecturing skills and their accessibility to students.

The Chancellor will hand out the remaining 13 Kemper awards, totalling $65,000, over the course of the next week.

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