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University Relations

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Oct. 9, 2006
Contact: Rosita McCoy, KU Endowment, (785) 832-7336; or Jen Humphrey, KU Endowment, (785) 832-7398.

KU honors KU scientist and professor of communication studies

LAWRENCE — A longtime former debate coach and a pioneering nervous system researcher have been selected as the 2006 recipients of an annual $5,000 award for their teaching and research at the University of Kansas.

Recipients of this year’s Chancellors Club Awards are Professors Donn W. Parson of the KU campus in Lawrence and Peter G. Smith of the KU Medical Center in Kansas City, Kan.

Parson, professor of communication studies for 42 years, received the 2006 Chancellors Club Career Teaching Award. Each year the award honors a senior KU faculty member who exemplifies the university’s commitment to outstanding teaching.

Parson taught argumentation to KU debate students and graduate students during the 24 years he served as director of forensics at KU. He became one of the most successful debate coaches in the country, guiding three KU teams to win the National Debate Tournament. He has been recognized for his commitment to mentoring students, who consistently praise his courses in evaluations. He has received numerous teaching awards over his career, including the Chancellors Award for Excellence in 1983 and a William T. Kemper Award for Teaching Excellence in 1997.

Smith, professor of molecular and integrative physiology and director of the R.L. Smith Mental Retardation Research Center, received the 2006 Chancellors Club Research Award. The award honors a medical center researcher whose work has led to significant scientific discoveries.

During the 19 years Smith has been a KU researcher, his work has spanned neuroscience, pharmacology, physiology and cardiovascular research. He has focused extensively on the nervous system and its plasticity, or ability to change; his research shows that adult nervous systems are not static. That work has led to important findings on nerve regeneration after injury, the effect of hormones on the nervous system and the relationships between hormones, the nervous system and pain.

Candidates for both awards are nominated by colleagues, students and alumni. Parson and Smith were honored by Chancellor Robert Hemenway and by members of the Chancellors Club of KU Endowment at the 29th annual celebration of the Chancellors Club at the Kansas Union on Oct. 6.

The Chancellors Club was established in 1977 by KU Endowment, an independent, nonprofit corporation serving as the official fundraising and fund-management organization for KU. Founded in 1891, KU Endowment is the first foundation of its kind at a U.S. public university.

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The University of Kansas is a major comprehensive research and teaching university. University Relations is the central public relations office for KU's Lawrence campus.

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