LAWRENCE — From 1996 through 2011, nearly 300 University of Kansas professors received William T. Kemper Fellowships for Teaching Excellence. The awards included cash gifts and became synonymous with the start of the academic year. Presentations were made in surprise classroom visits by leaders of the Kemper Foundation, KU and KU Endowment; recipients represented virtually every discipline across KU and all of its campuses.
As 2011 marked the capstone year for KU's Kemper Awards, the university and KU Endowment will formally honor the Kemper Foundation and congratulate all of the award recipients on Sept. 12, at the Faculty and Staff Donor Recognition Reception. During the life of the awards program, faculty members received a total of $1.55 million, provided jointly by the foundation and KU Endowment.
"I know I speak for all of the university when I say 'thank you' to the Kemper Foundation for their support for outstanding teaching at KU," said Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little. "I realize this was never intended to be a permanent fellowship. But in a sense it is permanent, as the benefits of rewarding dedicated faculty who inspire students will long endure."
Beth Radtke, interim executive director of the William T. Kemper Foundation, said the foundation board members have deep respect for KU. "We are so pleased that the Foundation was invited to join KU Endowment in supporting this program to recognize teaching excellence and its value to the university," said Radtke. "Many students choose to attend KU because of the quality of the faculty."
In addition to the teaching excellence fellowships, the Kemper Foundation has supported numerous areas across KU. Some of the foundation's recent and current gifts included funds to enlarge and create the Kemper Foyer at the Lied Center of Kansas; to provide support for the Spencer Museum of Art and Hall Center for the Humanities; and to establish the Kemper MD/PhD Program at KU Medical Center.
One of the goals of the Kemper Teaching Awards was to encourage other donors to recognize teaching excellence at KU. The program helped inspire other donors to create 80 additional teaching awards, totaling more than $8 million.
Other teaching awards at KU include the Chancellor's Club Career Teaching Award, Ned N. Fleming Trust Teaching Award, H.O.P.E. Teaching Award, Byron T. Shutz Award for Distinguished Teaching and the Silver Anniversary Teaching Award.
The foundation was established in 1989 after the death of Kansas City, Mo., banking executive and civic leader William T. Kemper. It 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 was the first foundation of its kind at a U.S. public university.