Aug. 25, 2004

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Contact: Dan Lara, University Relations, (785) 864-8855

3 KU faculty members latest to receive Kemper Awards; 3 left to go

LAWRENCE -- An assistant professor of theatre and film, an associate professor of history and an associate professor of social welfare were greeted by the "Surprise Patrol" today to become the latest University of Kansas faculty members to receive $5,000 Kemper Awards. The awards recognize excellence in teaching and advising.

Since the first day of classes at KU, 17 professors have received Kemper Awards. Three more presentations are scheduled for Sept. 1, 22 and 28.

The W.T. Kemper Fellowships for Teaching Excellence recognize outstanding teachers and advisers at KU as determined by a seven-member selection committee. Now in the ninth year of a 10-year program, the awards were established by a $500,000 fund from the William T. Kemper Foundation, Commerce Bank-Trustee, and $500,000 in matching funds from the KU Endowment Association.

The William T. Kemper Foundation was established in 1989 after Kemper's death. It supports Midwest communities and concentrates on initiatives in education, health and human services, civic improvements and the arts.

The names of the latest winners and their biographies:

Matthew Jacobson, assistant professor of theatre and film
Jacobson, who has taught at KU since 1999, has been invited to the Sundance Film Festival for the past two years to screen films nominated for awards, including "CSA: The Confederate States of America," on which he served as director of photography and co-producer. Peers and students compliment Jacobson's availability outside class, including leading trips to international film festivals. Jacobson also helped organize the student film awards, the Tensies, given each spring.

Rita Napier, associate professor of history
Since joining the KU faculty in 1973, Napier has taught courses on Kansas history, the American West and Native American people that have encouraged her students to challenge historical stereotypes and traditions while drawing their interest to a new and often over-looked subject. A popular member of the Kansas Humanities Council speaker's bureau, Napier is also an accomplished researcher who has been an editor or source for several books and films about the American West.

Debora M. Ortega, associate professor of social welfare
Ortega is praised by students for being open-minded, easy to talk to and engaged as a teacher. In her five years at KU, Ortega has published articles on parenting and judicial care of children while also serving on state and regional advisory boards for social services and Hispanic affairs. Ortega is a member of the Office of Child Welfare and Children's Mental Health Leadership Council and teaches both graduate and undergraduate students at KU.

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