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MU Professor Awarded 2007 Kemper Fellowship for Teaching Excellence

April 11, 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 Frank J. Schmidt, professor of biochemistry in the School of Medicine and the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources.

Deaton, Schatz and a group of professors, administrators and staff paid a surprise visit to Schmidt's classroom to honor him 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.

Frank J. Schmidt, professor of biochemistry

Frank Schmidt is known for his ability to get students to think creatively and help them develop a genuine interest in science. He is enthusiastic and uses examples from real-life applications and natural phenomena to reinforce learning and understanding. He utilizes deductive reasoning, problem-solving and experiential learning in his classes and has been called a "passionate and exceptionally talented teacher."

Schmidt led an interdisciplinary team of faculty members to develop and implement a two-course introductory science sequence for the MU Honors College. The courses were founded on principles of interdisciplinary and inquiry-based instruction and a "less is more" approach. As a result of his teaching of these classes, he was selected as the campus Honor College Professor of the Year in 2000.

"Dr. Schmidt spends a tremendous amount of time outside of class working on ways to organize his teaching in order that he might generate the maximum benefit out of the limited time he has within the classroom," said Thomas Payne, vice chancellor and dean of the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources.

A former student, remembering a moment in one of Schmidt's classes said, "Dr. Schmidt, along with an environmental studies professor and an astrophysicist, helped a class of undergraduates understand how the planets were formed, and why Venus spins in retrograde. I remember thinking that day that I had just learned the coolest little-known fact ever, and explaining it in detail to all of my dorm-mates that night over dinner."

"Dr. Schmidt is exceptional in the degree to which he continually challenges himself to enhance his teaching. He serves as a role model and leader, demonstrating that excellence in teaching must be pursued continually and passionately," said Gerald L. Hazelbauer, professor and chair of biochemistry. "Dr. Schmidt is so skillful that students may not realize the full extent of their learning."