KU News Release


May 31, 2012
Contact: Kristi Henderson, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, 785-864-3663

Steeples Award honors three faculty members for their service to Kansans

Leon Greene


William Johnson


Susan Williams


More Information

LAWRENCE – Three faculty members at the University of Kansas received the Steeples Award to honor their significant service to the people of Kansas.

The recipients of the 2012 Steeples Service to Kansas Award are Leon Greene, associate professor of health, sport and exercise sciences; William Johnson, professor of geography; and Susan Williams, associate professor of chemical and petroleum engineering.

Don Steeples, the Dean A. McGee Distinguished Professor of Applied Geophysics, and his wife, Tammy, established the award in 1997 to honor Don Steeples’ parents, Wally and Marie Steeples, and to recognize outstanding service by KU faculty to other Kansans. The award provides recipients with $1,000 and an additional $1,000 base adjustment to their salaries.

Information about the recipients is below.

Leon Greene has been a faculty member in the Department of Health, Sport and Exercise Sciences since 1975. Greene received his doctorate in physical education and educational administration in 1973. At KU, he served as the undergraduate program coordinator of his department for 12 years and currently serves as the director for the community health program. Greene specializes in elementary school physical education and adaptive physical education in his classes and service. Greene was a founder of the KU Sports Skills and Fitness School for children 33 years ago and continues to run the program. More than 13,000 children have participated in the program, which focuses on fitness in a fun and positive atmosphere. Greene has worked with Blue Cross Blue Shield Kansas City and KCPT to develop and produce television shows and booklets focusing on children’s health and physical education and activity.

William Johnson is a top-rated geography faculty member with extensive research and mapping experience. After completing his doctorate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1976, he joined the Department of Geography at KU in 1978. Johnson was named a Geological Society of America fellow in 2003 and received the Byron A. Alexander Graduate Mentor Award in 2008. Working closely with the Kansas Geological Survey, Johnson has conducted extensive geologic mapping in 32 counties in Kansas. He has involved 28 students (21 from Kansas) to assist in these mapping projects. His recent work includes researching and mapping the playa wetlands of Kansas. His research and mapping have earned numerous grants. Johnson uses his work to connect with hundreds of Kansas residents, especially those in rural areas. Numerous Kansas residents have benefited from Johnson’s maps, databases and personal involvement.

Susan Williams is the director of KU’s Biodiesel Initiative and an associate professor in the School of Engineering. She has worked in the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering at KU since 1999 after earning her doctorate in chemical engineering from the University of Oklahoma. Williams has developed hands-on activities related to her research not only for students at KU, but also for K-12 students and teachers. More than 2,000 students and 100 teachers across Kansas have used these activities. As part of the Biodiesel Initiative, she leads the nationally recognized Shaping Inquiry from Feedstock to Tailpipe (SHIFT) program that produces high-quality biodiesel from used cooking oil recycled from campus dining services. SHIFT brought nearly $1 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Energy to KU for its research and activities. Williams established the research collaborative between KU and the Kansas Soybean Commission, providing biofuel education and research.

Funds for the Steeples award are managed by KU Endowment, the independent, nonprofit organization serving as the official fundraising and fund-management organization for KU. Founded in 1891, KU Endowment was the first foundation of its kind at a U.S. public university.



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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