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MU Professor Awarded 2008 Kemper Fellowship

April 1, 2008

Story Contact:  Emily Smith, (573) 882-3346,

COLUMBIA, Mo. - University of Missouri Chancellor Brady Deaton and Chairman Jim Schatz of Commerce Bank today awarded one of the 2008 William T. Kemper Fellowships for Teaching Excellence to Wayne Brekhus, associate professor of sociology in the College of Arts and Science.

Deaton, Schatz and a group of professors, administrators and staff paid a surprise visit to Brekhus’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 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 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.


Please see attached biography for details about Brekhus.

The final four Kemper Awards will be given on Wednesday, April 3.

9:00 a.m. Media may meet in front of the chancellor’s office to depart for the first twopresentations.

11:00 a.m. Media may meet in front of the chancellor’s office again to depart for the last two presentations.


Wayne Brekhus, associate professor of sociology

Wayne Brekhus has been a member of the MU faculty since 1999 and has taught a number of graduate and undergraduate sociology courses.  He also serves as the director of undergraduate studies for the sociology department and advises more than 200 sociology majors.  For the past four years, Brekhus has been a co-facilitator for a Culture and Society Freshman Interest Group.

"I have never met such a commanding figure who genuinely cares about his students and their successes as much as Dr. Brekhus does, nor one that teaches so brilliantly," said Lauren Sanborn, an MU junior and student of Brekhus.

In 2007, Brekhus was named a Wakonse Fellow and, in 2005, he was awarded the Excellence in Education Award at MU.  In 2002, he was honored with a Purple Chalk Teaching Award by the College of Arts and Science, an award from students and is presented to professors each year during Arts and Science Week.

Brekhus is described as being extremely dedicated to his work and personable to both his students and his colleagues.

"Wayne has been an important source of support and inspiration for me in my teaching," said Joan Hermsen, an associate professor of sociology. "When I am struggling with a student or a subject and just need someone to hear me out, he listens."

Brekhus received his bachelor's degree at North Dakota State University and his master's and doctorate at Rutgers University. Prior to his time at MU, he was an assistant instructor of sociology at Rutgers.