KU News Release

Aug. 20, 2009
Contact: Jill Jess, University Relations, (785) 864-8858

'Surprise patrol' completes first day of Kemper fellowship presentations

LAWRENCE — The University of Kansas “surprise patrol” today presented three more professors with $5,000 Kemper Fellowships for Teaching Excellence.

The Kemper fellowships recognize outstanding teachers and advisers at KU as determined by a seven-member selection committee. Now in their 14th 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.

This afternoon’s winners are: Andrea Greenhoot, associate professor of psychology; Ruth Ann Atchley, associate professor and interim chair of psychology; and Heather Desaire, associate professor of chemistry.

In all, 20 professors will be honored and $100,000 distributed this year. Presentations for Lawrence campus faculty members will continue through Tuesday, Sept. 1. Four professors at the KU Medical Center in Kansas City, Kan., also will be honored.

The William T. Kemper Foundation was established in 1989 after the death of the Kansas City, Mo., banking executive and civic leader. The foundation supports Midwest communities and concentrates on initiatives in education, health and human services, civic improvements and the arts.

KU Endowment is the independent, nonprofit organization 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.

More about today’s winners:

Andrea Greenhoot, associate professor of psychology

Greenhoot teaches courses in developmental psychology, cognitive development and memory in children. Though some of her classes include upwards of 400 students, she is able to teach a rigorous curriculum with a special emphasis on writing assignments. She does not keep her efforts to enhance learning performance to herself, however, and shares her teaching methods with others. “It was only after her mentoring was I able to aptly take on a large child psychology class,” Patricia Hawley, associate professor of psychology, said. “My TAs and I can now manage over 2,100 essays in the semester while providing transparent feedback at the same time.” Greenhoot began teaching at KU in 1999 and is co-director of the Developmental Psychology Doctoral Program.

Ruth Ann Atchley, associate professor of psychology

Atchley, a cognitive neuroscientist, uses her intellectual muscle and hard work to develop better ways to teach students. Her dedication to student success is seen in the course she created, PSYC 625, which teaches methods of cognitive neuroscience in a hands-on lab environment. Atchley successfully wrote a grant to fund an undergraduate teaching lab for the class, planned the course over two years and even housed the lab in her own research space. The quality of her course content is matched by the quality of her teaching, which is rigorous, emphasizes good writing and offers meaningful student evaluation. “I am truly grateful to her that she would take so much time and be so detailed,” a former student said. “Even though Dr. Atchley would disassemble my papers, she would do it in a way that was positive and encouraging.”

Heather Desaire, associate professor of chemistry

Desaire joined the chemistry faculty in 2003 and became an associate professor in 2007. In 2006, she developed KU’s first course in mass spectrometry, an advanced class that is extremely popular. Many of her classes cover cutting-edge science and colleagues say she is skilled at keeping her teaching fresh by methodic self-evaluation. She is also an effective communicator and lecturer who strives for student understanding. “Professor Desaire listens to students … really listens and probes to understand the heart of the student’s question before constructing an answer,” said Joseph Heppert, chemistry department chair. Many of Desaire’s students go on to professional positions at major firms, evidence that the quality of her teaching is superb.

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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