KU News Release

Aug. 20, 2010
Contact: Jill Jess, University Relations, (785) 864-8858

Two more professors receive Kemper Fellowships for Teaching Excellence

2010 Kemper Awards

LAWRENCE — The University of Kansas “surprise patrol” this afternoon presented two more professors with $7,500 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 15th year, the annual awards have been supported by gifts totaling $650,000 from the William T. Kemper Foundation (Commerce Bank, trustee) and $650,000 in matching funds from KU Endowment.

This afternoon’s winners are Dorice Elliott, associate professor of English, and J. Frederick Devlin, associate professor of geology.

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.

Dorice Elliott, associate professor of English

Dorice Elliott’s students appreciate how much she loves teaching. In fact, the adjective most used in course evaluations is “engaging.” An expert in 19th century British literature, the novel, women’s literature and historical and cultural criticism, Elliott frequently teaches a popular course on Jane Austen. She has been at KU since 1996 and served as chair of the Department of English from 2003 to 2009. While she was chair, she took on the task of developing a new course in literary criticism and theory. “Professor Elliott is one of our department’s most dedicated and self-reflective teachers, who continually rethinks and revises her courses to align them with new goals and with student needs and works closely and individually with students to help them reach the highest levels of understanding and academic performance,” said Marta Caminero-Santangelo, chair of the Department of English. Elliott is a Humanities Research Fellow at the Hall Center for Humanities. She will examine novels and other literary works about and by convicted British felons who were transported to Australia in the first half of the 19th century.

Rick Devlin, associate professor, geology

Colleagues and students recognize J. Frederick “Rick” Devlin as being dedicated to helping students connect scientific theory to real world situations and innovative in engaging both undergraduate and graduate students in class. His classes include environmental geology, a basic science course that challenges class discussion. Conducted on the Lawrence campus, the class enrolls 60 to 70 students, but several attend via videoconference from the Edwards Campus in Overland Park. Many are science majors, but not all. To encourage discussion, Devlin gives playing cards to students offering insightful comments or questions. After each lecture, students redeem those cards for bonus points toward their final grade. For the final lecture, Devlin adds a best poker hand concept. Students with a semester’s worth of exceptional card hands may earn a few more points. In an upper division lab course on geomorphology, Devlin works with 10 to 20 students reviewing concepts in math, chemistry, physics and geology that demonstrate how the sciences work together to make the Earth’s surface and land forms understandable. For real world applications of theory, Devlin organizes field trips and creates computer presentations, including electronic field guides, to augment the lab and lectures. The Journal of Geoscience Education has published one of Devlin’s concepts for teaching the connections of sciences in geomorphology. One colleague emphasized “the intellectual coherence of the content of Dr. Devlin’s courses is an exceptional strength.” Rather than settling for textbook lectures or recycling course outlines from past courses, Devlin decides on a story he wishes to tell in a course and then proceeds meticulously to plan a series of lectures to tell that story as the term unfolds.

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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