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Aug. 21, 2006
Contact: Jackie Hosey, University Relations, (785) 864-8858.

Kemper awards handed out to three more KU professors

LAWRENCE — The University of Kansas “Surprise Patrol” today handed out three more $5,000 Kemper awards to unsuspecting professors. The awards were given in recognition of faculty members’ excellence in teaching and advising.

In all, 20 professors will be honored and $100,000 distributed this year as part of the Kemper awards tradition. The patrol will hand out awards to three professors at the KU Medical Center on a later date.

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 their 11th year, the awards are supported by $650,000 in gifts from the William T. Kemper Foundation (Commerce Bank, trustee) and $650,000 in matching funds from KU Endowment.

The William T. Kemper Foundation was established in 1989 after Kemper’s death. The foundation is dedicated to continuing Kemper’s lifelong interest in improving the human condition and quality of life. The foundation supports Midwest communities and concentrates on initiatives in education, health and human services, civic improvements and the arts.

Today’s winners:

Beth Manolescu, associate professor of communication studies
Joan A. Sereno, associate professor of linguistics
Lisa Wolf-Wendel, professor of higher education

Recipient bios:

Beth Manolescu, associate professor of communication studies
A colleague once joked that teaching with Manolescu could be a lonely experience because all of the students want to see Manolescu. Though her main goal for her students is to help them develop the knowledge and skills to become active citizens, she specializes her classes to help each person learn to their optimum. For example, she organizes department-level activities such as writing workshops. One student says that Manolescu “was so encouraging, motivating and competent that coming to class was a treat.”

Joan A. Sereno, associate professor of linguistics
In Sereno’s nine years at KU, she has been an example of flexibility. Sereno has taught classes that range from introductory undergraduate to higher-level graduate. Sereno says this speaks to the nature of her teaching interests. She realizes one of her courses may be a student’s only exposure to linguistics, so she combines instruction of facts with critical thinking exercises in order to integrate linguistic concepts. Sereno is rigorous yet approachable to students, whose most common remark is how much knowledge they gain from her.

Lisa Wolf-Wendel, professor of higher education
Wolf-Wendel teaches only graduate students, thus, her excellence as a teacher is also reflected in her role as an academic program coordinator and as an adviser. One of her main goals is teaching students how to understand research. Wolf-Wendel coordinates the higher education master’s degree program, which brings together research and practice for students. This helps ensure that students can head into their jobs knowing they are well prepared.

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