KU News Release

Aug. 21, 2009
Contact: Jill Jess, University Relations, (785) 864-8858

Six more KU faculty members honored with Kemper fellowships

LAWRENCE — The University of Kansas “surprise patrol” today presented six 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.

Today’s winners are: John Hachmeister, associate professor of visual art; Stuart Day, associate professor of Spanish and Portuguese; Audrey Lamb, assistant professor of molecular biosciences; Cindy Berrie, associate professor of chemistry; Sandra Gray, associate professor of anthropology; and Susan Stagg-Williams, associate professor of chemical and petroleum engineering.

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:

John Hachmeister, associate professor of visual art

Hachmeister is among a handful of skilled foundrymen in the world and teaches classes in sculpture and metal casting. He has ushered countless students toward advanced academics and professional work, including one who said, “Without his help … I would not be in Belgium right now pursuing my PhD. There are many other former students of John’s out there, spread all over the world.” In addition to classroom instruction, Hachmeister is instrumental in preserving Midwest art, including the Garden of Eden in Lucas, Kan., Concrete Park in Wisconsin and other sites. He also was instrumental in creating Kansas City’s Red Door Gallery and guiding the Arts Incubator of Kansas City. “John Hachmeister is devoted to his students, passionate about the artwork of his region and deeply concerned for the well being of the next generation of artists,” Dawn Guernsey, department chair, said. “His service to the program and community is endless, his mentoring a lifetime commitment.”

Stuart Day, associate professor of Spanish and Portuguese

Day, a specialist in Latin American theatre and performance, came to KU in 2005. In that short time, he has taught an extraordinary range of courses, including study abroad ventures, and helped start the university’s first Spanish club. Day uses a holistic approach to student learning at both the undergraduate and graduate level, demonstrating an intellectual openness and enthusiasm that engages students. One said, “He opened my eyes to so many issues that were unknown to me and to my classmates.” Another, “I thought Stuart was an absolutely wonderful teacher … as he used a variety of different mediums to teach.” While Day’s classes are engaging and fun, they are also intellectually rigorous. Jonathan Mayhew, associate professor of Spanish, said, “He is not just an above-average, competent teacher, but an exceptional one.”

Audrey Lamb, assistant professor of molecular biosciences

Lamb soars above and beyond her required teaching duties, volunteering to take a heavier workload to better serve her students. In a discipline where faculty must spend many hours pursuing research funding, she has the determination to teach large, difficult lectures by herself, has revamped and improved an advanced graduate course and mentors an extraordinary number of undergraduate and graduate students. “A look at the list of her advisees shows that the students have been extremely successful,” said colleagues who nominated her for the award. “Half of her graduate students go on to became postdoctoral fellows.” She is also noted for bringing spice to her lectures, often in the form of visual or aromatic props (mint and caraway seeds on at least one occasion) that get her students ready to learn. One student said, “Lectures are never dull.” Another said, “Dr. Lamb understands the value of education.”

Cindy Berrie, associate professor of chemistry

Berrie’s tests are hard, and her classes challenging, but her students say she’s “awesome” and would have it no other way. Berrie joined the chemistry department in 2001 and was promoted to associate professor in 2007. She primarily has taught advanced undergraduate fundamental and laboratory courses, including honors courses, and currently is the department’s honors coordinator. Many of the courses she teaches are among the most difficult undergraduates in the department face, because much of the material is new and math-intensive. Colleagues say Berrie is a polished lecturer who excels at making her classes better by updating and rewriting class materials to make them more effective. “Professor Berrie is a serious teacher, who prides herself both in the excellence of her instruction and the high standards of performance she expects from her students,” said Joseph Heppert, department chair. “In spite of relaying her high expectations, Professor Berrie simultaneously communicates her care and engagement with student learning.”

Sandra Gray, associate professor of anthropology

Gray, the department’s undergraduate coordinator since 2005, has advised too many students to count. “No one who walks down the hall in the department of anthropology can fail to notice the students in the hall waiting to see her for advice,” said Jane Gibson, associate professor of anthropology. Her popularity as an adviser stems from her success in the classroom, where she teaches several anthropology classes and is known for her dramatic and entertaining teaching style. A student of her 250-seat introductory anthropology course said, “Dr. Gray is my role model! She is intelligent, engaging and, at times, a bit outrageous.” Gray, who began at KU in 1992, preceded her career in anthropology as an off-Broadway actor and continues her art both in local theater and in the classroom.

Susan Stagg-Williams, associate professor of chemical and petroleum engineering

Susan Stagg-Williams is known for her involvement with research, projects and outreach in the area of biofuels. She is the co-originator and director of the KU Biodiesel Initiative, with researches manufacturing processes for alternative fuels and provides incredible learning opportunities for students. Along with teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in chemical engineering and facilitating alternative energy research, she puts ample energy in public outreach. She has performed many public interviews, tours and conference presentations and advises camps for high school students interested in engineering. She also takes a leading role with the Kansas Soybean Commission, providing research and development support to the soybean farming community. “Susan has been very active in many areas that have been significant to the people of Kansas,” said Laurence Weatherley, chair of chemical and petroleum engineering. “She is clearly on an upward trajectory … for the benefit of the students of KU, the citizens of Kansas and beyond.”

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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