KU News Release

Aug. 26, 2009
Contact: Jill Jess, University Relations, (785) 864-8858

'Surprise patrol' presents Kemper fellowship to another KU professor

LAWRENCE — The University of Kansas “surprise patrol” today presented another professor with a $5,000 Kemper Fellowship 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 winner is William Comer, associate professor of Slavic languages and literatures.

In all, 20 professors will be honored and $100,000 distributed this year as part of the Kemper tradition. 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 winner:

William Comer, associate professor of Slavic languages and literatures
Comer is a driving force for innovation and progress in language education at KU. Colleagues credit him for his expertise in language-area curriculum development, teaching, mentoring and advancing the internationalization of the university. Marc Greenberg, department chair, said, “Through his advocacy, KU has gradually become a national leader in the teaching of less-commonly taught languages over the last decade, an institutional status that was unforeseeable just a few years ago.” Hired in 1992, he built and directed the Ermal Garinger Academic Resource Center, a state-of-the-art language facility, from 1998 to 2007. He also teaches Russian language in culture. “He is a consummate professional language teacher and he has put virtually every ounce of his creative energy into his pedagogical offerings,” Greenberg said.

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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