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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 Lynda Kraxberger, associate professor of convergence journalism in the Missouri School of Journalism.

Deaton, Schatz and a group of professors, administrators and staff paid a surprise visit to Kraxberger'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.

Lynda Kraxberger, associate professor of convergence journalism

Kraxberger began working at MU in 1993 after a successful career in broadcast journalism. At KOMU, she was in charge of the broadcast news production portion of the curriculum. She began innovating immediately, revamping the courses she taught and how the newsroom related to those courses.

In 2000, Kraxberger moved to the traditional classroom, in part because she wanted to help students at the beginning of the program. From 2000 to 2005, she taught Broadcast I, but she never used the same syllabus twice. Her approach and content changed constantly to adapt to changes in the field and in her students.

Kraxberger has attended 10 conferences devoted to teaching excellence. She is a leader on the School of Journalism's curriculum committee, helping guide the implementation of new, school-wide curriculum. She also provides workshops for other faculty members. In addition, she served for five years on the campus curriculum committee. In the past two years, her leadership as chair of the School's technology committee has resulted in an academic transformation grant from ET@MO to enhance student career opportunities through the creation of electronic portfolios.

Kraxberger is a founding faculty member of the School of Journalism's newest sequence, convergence journalism. As a result, she has taught two new courses every semester for the past two years. Much of her teaching is now done in a team format, and hallway instruction has become an even bigger part of her life.

Dean Mills, professor of convergence journalism and dean of the School of Journalism, and Lee Wilkins, professor of radio-television journalism, called Kraxberger innovative, patient and enthusiastic. The journalism faculty recognized Kraxberger two years ago with the O.O. McIntyre Distinguished Teaching Award, the school's highest teaching honor.

A journalism student wrote in an essay that Kraxberger "helped me sort through the most confusion I have ever felt in my life ... Professor Kraxberger sat down with me on multiple occasions and just listened while I spouted off everything that was on my mind." Another student said Kraxberger "does a terrific job of lending help outside of class ... even when the questions are repeats, when they're fairly juvenile, and when it's during her free time."

"Assigned to teach the gateway course in the sequence, Professor Kraxberger laid the groundwork for much greater student success by utilizing her special teaching style. The level of our sequence instruction rose. By raising the bar — both in teaching and in results — in the first course in the sequence, all other teaching and learning advanced," said Kent Collins, associate professor and chair of radio-television journalism.