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MU Professor Awarded 2007 Kemper Fellowship for Teaching Excellence

April 3, 2007

Story Contact:  Katherine Kostiuk, 573-882-3346,

COLUMBIA, Mo. — University of Missouri-Columbia Chancellor Brady Deaton and Chairman Jim Schatz of Commerce Bank today awarded one of the 2007 William T. Kemper Fellowships for Teaching Excellence to Fran Arbaugh, assistant professor of mathematics education in the College of Education's Department of Learning, Teaching and Curriculum.

Deaton, Schatz and a group of professors, administrators and staff paid a surprise visit to Arbaugh's classroom to honor her with the Fellowship, which includes a $10,000 award. Fellowships are awarded to five outstanding teachers at the University of Missouri-Columbia each year.

The William T. Kemper Fellowships for Teaching Excellence were established in 1991 with a $500,000 gift. Kemper, a 1926 MU graduate, was a well known civic leader in Kansas City, Mo., until his death in 1989. His 52-year career in banking included top positions at banks in Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma. Commerce Bank manages the trust fund.

Fran Arbaugh, assistant professor of mathematics education

Fran Arbaugh is dedicated to helping teachers understand and extend their students' mathematical thinking and reasoning. Her research focuses on mathematics teachers' learning, especially in professional development projects, and contexts of learning, through vehicles such as teacher study groups, types of curriculum and college courses. Her work has been published in various journals, including The Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education and Teaching Children Mathematics.

Arbaugh teaches a variety of undergraduate and graduate courses for middle school through college level teachers. Her focus is on preparing middle and secondary school mathematics teachers, but she also has pioneered efforts within the Department of Learning, Teaching and Curriculum to mentor graduate students in the area of college teaching. She routinely engages mathematics education doctoral students in preparation and instruction of undergraduate classes, helping them organize syllabi, select instructional resources and tasks, and develop assessments.

Arbaugh is regarded by students as a demanding but accessible instructor. Students praise her for her ability to organize instruction, stimulate reflection and inspire a love of mathematics. She is described as "masterful in crafting activities that would encourage prospective teachers to think deeply about the importance of student understanding." One former student said, "Fran Arbaugh has a way of bringing out the best in math teachers. She takes my thinking and teaching to levels above what I think I can do, and it's always with a question."

She has earned several "High Flyer" teaching awards from the College of Education. For four consecutive years, Honors College graduates have selected her as their mentor to participate in the Honors Convocation. In 2004, Arbaugh was nominated for the Provost's Outstanding Junior Faculty Teaching Award, and last year, she received the MU Excellence in Education Award.

Arbaugh has her doctorate in curriculum and instruction/mathematics education from Indiana University. She has been at MU since 2001.