LAWRENCE — The University of Kansas “surprise patrol” today presented a professor with the year’s first $7,500 Kemper Fellowship for Teaching Excellence.
Today’s winner is Jorge Pérez, associate professor of Spanish and Portuguese.
The Kemper fellowships recognize outstanding teachers and advisers at KU as determined by a seven-member selection committee. Now in their 16th year, the awards are supported by an annual gift of $37,500 from the William T. Kemper Foundation (Commerce Bank, trustee) and $37,500 in matching funds from KU Endowment.
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.
For details, visit http://www.news.ku.edu/kemper_awards.
Professor Profile: Jorge Pérez, Associate Professor of Spanish and Portuguese
Pérez, whose first book, “Cultural Roundabouts: Spanish Film and Novel on the Road,” was published this year, says his experience in the classroom was a key part of his writing.
“My experience designing a course on transatlantic Hispanic cultures opened up new avenues for my research,” says Pérez. “The conceptual framework, the thesis, and the title of my book resulted from working with the metaphor of the ‘cultural roundabouts’ with which I conceptualized the transatlantic cultural encounters of my class.”
Pérez is recognized as a professor who challenges his students to go beyond fluency by identifying the cultural impacts of their studies. He alternates traditional lectures with interactive activities that allow his students to contribute in the classroom and reflect on the cultural aspects of their learning. His enthusiasm and commitment to mentoring are frequently cited by students.
“My role as a mediator that facilitates students’ success begins before the classroom experience and does not end with graduation,” says Pérez, who’s been at KU since 2004.
He was previously awarded the Cramer Professorship from 2006 to 2008 for excellence in research and teaching and was recognized in 2009 for excellence in graduate teaching by the Center for Teaching Excellence.