KU News Release

Nov. 12, 2009
Contact: Mary Jane Dunlap, University Relations, (785) 864-8853

Mortar Board to honor 2009 Outstanding Educators

More Information

LAWRENCE — Members of Mortar Board honor society at the University of Kansas will honor five faculty as Outstanding Educators this weekend at two events.

The 2009 Outstanding Educators will be introduced Friday, Nov. 13, during halftime of the KU-Hofstra University men’s basketball game at Allen Fieldhouse. They are

— Michael S. Detamore, associate professor of chemical and petroleum engineering
— Robert C. Dunn, professor of chemistry
— John James Kennedy, associate professor of political science
— Alee S. Phillips, lecturer in business
— Ann Weirda Rowland, associate professor of English

On Sunday, Nov. 15, the Outstanding Educators will receive certificates during a 1:30 reception at the Malott Room in the Kansas Union. Mortar Board members and alumni as well as university administrators and faculty colleagues are invited to attend.

Mortar Board President Chelsea Mertz and Mortar Board Outstanding Educator co-chairs Emily Baird and Kaliegh Braun will present certificates to the honorees.

KU’s Torch chapter of Mortar Board has presented its teaching awards since 1974. Mortar Board members nominate educators for their devotion to academics, teaching style, accessibility, knowledge of their subjects and other special qualities identified by the KU chapter. Mortar Board’s 49 members selected the winners.

Membership in Mortar Board is based on distinguished achievement in scholarship, leadership and service. Students must have a 3.0 grade-point average and hold senior-level status. KU’s Mortar Board chapter was founded in 1912 as the Torch senior women’s honor society. In 1924, it affiliated with the national Mortar Board honor society. In 1975, Mortar Board opened membership to men. KU chapter advisers are Mary Burg, executive assistant to Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little; Lynn Bretz, director of University Communications; Charles Marsh, associate professor of journalism, and Sandy Garrett, Lawrence Mortar Board Alumni.

Brief biographical information about the Outstanding Educators is below, followed by hometown information for Mortar Board officers.

Michael S. Detamore

Michael S. Detamore joined KU’s faculty in 2004, after earning his doctorate at Rice University in Houston and has since received more than $2 million in research funding from leading agencies. Although Detamore’s research in biomaterials, biomechanics, tissue engineering and stem cells has expanded to include the intervertebral disc, the knee and the trachea, he is probably best recognized for his work with the jaw joint, or temporomandibular joint. He chaired the world’s first and second TMJ Bioengineering Conferences in 2006 and 2009. In his Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering lab, Detamore mentors postdoctoral fellows, graduate and undergraduate students. This spring, he received a National Science Foundation CAREER Award recognizing junior faculty members who “exemplify the role of teacher-scholars.” He has also received KU’s Miller Professional Development Award for Research, a Kemper Fellowship for Teaching Excellence and a Gould Award for Outstanding Adviser. Students wrote that Detamore steps beyond the usual boundaries of adviser to help any student who comes seeking guidance.

Robert C. Dunn

Robert C. Dunn, who came to KU in 1995, has won several awards in recognition of his teaching and research. In 1997, he was named a national Searle scholar and received a National Science Foundation CAREER Award in recognition of his work as a teacher-scholar. In 2000, Dunn received a national Alfred P. Sloan fellowship and was named one of the first two Self Faculty Scholars appointed at KU. His research focuses on developing new microscopic techniques to study single biological molecules. He has served as associate director of the Ralph N. Adams Institute for Bioanalytical Chemistry at KU. Dunn works with graduate and undergraduate students and has served as a mentor for KU’s University Scholars Program. He earned his doctorate in physical chemistry in 1992 at the University of California-San Diego and his master’s degree in 1990. He received a bachelor’s at California State University-Sacramento in 1988. He was a postdoctoral fellow at the Pacific Northwest Laboratory in Richland, Wash.

John James Kennedy

John James Kennedy, a specialist in Chinese government and foreign policy, came to KU in 2003 after earning a doctorate at the University of California-Davis. The following year, he received a Teaching Excellence Award from KU’s Center for Teaching Excellence. Also in 2004, Kennedy and his colleagues at Northwest University in Xian, China, established the Northwest Socio-economic Development Research Center, designed in part to train Xian-area professors, graduate students and professionals in social science research methods. Kennedy is a research affiliate for the Rural Education Action Project in China, which is associated with Stanford University, the Center of Chinese Agricultural Policy and the center in Xian. In 2006, Kennedy received a Faculty Service Award from KU’s Center for East Asian Studies. His published articles have received awards, including the 2007 Gordon White Prize for the most original article published in the China Quarterly. His article examined the impact of the abolition of agricultural taxes on townships in northwest China. This spring, his paper on identifying girls in Shaanxi whose births were never recorded won an award from the Association of Chinese Political Science. He has received grants from KU’s Center for East Asian Studies for research and to develop new courses. As a graduate student, Kennedy received a Fulbright award. He earned master’s and bachelor’s degrees in political science from the University of California-Davis and an associate’s degree from Sacramento Community College in 1992. Before he began teaching, Kennedy worked as a carpenter specializing in cabinet making and furniture restoration for nearly 10 years.

Alee S. Phillips

Alee S. Phillips worked in public accounting with Deloitte & Touche LLP before joining KU’s faculty to teach part time in 2000. Since 2003, she has been teaching full time and has also earned three teaching awards. She received the 2003 Henry A. Bubb Award for Outstanding Teaching from the School of Business; the 2008 Outstanding Educator Award from Beta Gamma Sigma, a national honor society for business students; and an Excellence in Teaching Award from KU’s Center for Teaching Excellence. She serves as faculty adviser for the Lambda Alpha chapter of Beta Alpha Psi, an international honor organization for accounting students and professionals. Her students nominated her for a HOPE Award in 2003. Phillips earned a master’s in accounting and information systems in 1998 and a bachelor’s degree in accounting and business administration in 1997 at KU. As an undergraduate, she served a stint as Baby Jay, the university mascot.

Ann Wierda Rowland

Ann Wierda Rowland joined KU’s faculty in 2006 after starting her career at Harvard University, where she had taught in the English department since 1999. She earned doctoral and bachelor’s degrees from Yale University. At KU, Rowland teaches courses in British romanticism, Gothic fiction, gender and nationalism in 19th century British literature; Scottish literature; children in literature and children’s literature. She is working on a book about children and theories of childhood in romantic literary culture. Rowland works with the University Honors Program, advising students competing for national scholarships, and serves on the executive committee for the Hall Center for the Humanities at KU. She was named a fellow of the American Association of University Women in 2003 and won a Keasbey Fellowship for study at Oxford (1988-1990).

Mortar Board officers, all KU seniors, are listed below by their hometown, major, parents’ names, high school and office title.

From Lenexa 66219
Emily Jean Baird, accounting, daughter of Ted and Kate Baird; Saint Thomas Aquinas High School, Overland Park; outstanding educator co-chair

From Prairie Village 66208
Marek Daniel Brzozowski, biochemistry, son of Brian and Katherine Brzozowski; Shawnee Mission East High School; secretary

From Independence 67301
Rebecca Lo, community health, daughter of Jih Charng and Ruey Ling Lo; Field Kindley Memorial High School, Coffeyville; historian

From Hutchinson 67502
Kaleigh Nicole Braun, chemical engineering, daughter of Steve and Debbie Braun; Trinity Catholic High School; outstanding educator co-chair

From Wichita 67206
Garret Robert Prather, finance, son of Brett and Angie Prather; Kapaun Mount Carmel High School; tapping/initiation co-chair

From Topeka 66609
Chelsea J. Mertz, political science, daughter of Max Mertz; Topeka High School; president

From Topeka 66614
Matthew Christopher Enriquez, communication studies and philosophy, son of Joselito and Diana Enriquez; Washburn Rural High School; vice president

From Blue Springs 64014 and Oak Grove 64075
Kyla Nichole Velaer, biochemistry, daughter of Diana Velaer of Blue Springs and James Velaer of Oak Grove; Blue Springs High School; philanthropy chair

From Clayton 63105
Whitney Elizabeth Anne Bruce, journalism, daughter of Elizabeth and Robert Bruce; Clayton High School; tapping/initiation co-chair

From Manchester 63021
Alessandra J. Ainsworth, human biology and dance, daughter of Linda and Charles Hennemann; Visitation Academy; alumni relations chair

From Bartlesville 74006
Katherine Elizabeth Kane, chemical engineering, daughter of John and Jamie Kane; Bartlesville High School; treasurer

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.

kunews@ku.edu | (785) 864-3256 | 1314 Jayhawk Blvd., Lawrence, KS 66045

KU Today

Subscribe to our daily newsletter covering research, academics, media coverage, campus news, events & more. Subscribe




The University of Kansas prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, ethnicity, religion, sex, national origin, age, ancestry, disability, status as a veteran, sexual orientation, marital status, parental status, gender identity, gender expression, and genetic information in the university’s programs and activities. Retaliation is also prohibited by university policy. The following persons have been designated to handle inquiries regarding the nondiscrimination policies and are the Title IX coordinators for their respective campuses: Executive Director of the Office of Institutional Opportunity & Access, IOA@ku.edu, 1246 West Campus Road, Room 153A, Lawrence, KS 66045, 785-864-6414, 711 TTY (for the Lawrence, Edwards, Parsons, Yoder, and Topeka campuses); Director, Equal Opportunity Office, Mail Stop 7004, 4330 Shawnee Mission Parkway, Fairway, KS 66205, 913-588-8011, 711 TTY (for the Wichita, Salina, and Kansas City, Kansas, medical center campuses).