Profs rewarded with Kemper awards

Lawrence,KS (08-20-2004)

From Lawrence Journal World
By Terry Rombeck

Doug Atkins already was worried about where he would fit the 25 to 30 students enrolled in his "writing nonfiction" course.

After all, the Wescoe Hall classroom he was assigned holds 20 people.

So imagine his surprise when an additional 15 people barged into his first-day class on Thursday.

He didn't mind much, though, when he discovered the group, led by Chancellor Robert Hemenway, was there to give him a W.T. Kemper fellowship worth $5,000.

"This is probably the most important thing that's happened to me in my 35-plus years of teaching," Atkins said. "I'm touched and honored."

Atkins was one of eight KU faculty members honored with Kemper awards Thursday, the first day of fall semester classes. Twelve more will receive awards Monday, Wednesday and in September.

The awards, funded by a gift from the William T. Kemper Foundation through the KU Endowment Association, are in their ninth year. The foundation has provided funding for the program through 2005.

Faculty members were selected by a seven-member committee of students, faculty and alumni that chooses from nominees.

"We've been able to do this every year," Hemenway said. "We feel like we started a new KU tradition. It's a tradition that recognizes excellence and rewards excellence, particularly excellence in the classroom. These awards mean a lot to people both for personal reasons and for professional reasons, and I can't think of a better way for the university to recognize their talents than to come in on the first day of class and say here's significant monetary recognition for the job you're doing."

In addition to Atkins, winners Thursday were:

Paul Atchley, associate professor of psychology.

Anthony Corbeill, professor of classics.

Susan Gauch, professor of electrical engineering and computer science.

Jerzy Gryzmala-Busse, professor of electrical engineering and computer science.

Tanya Hartman, associate professor of art.

Peter Herlihy, associate professor of geography.

John Peck, professor of law.

Atkins said he might use his $5,000 to purchase an Ernest Hemingway first-edition novel or a new computer. He said he expected the award to inspire him to work even harder.

"I think, it means everything to me," he said. "Teaching matters more to me than any other aspect of professional life."

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