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Two MU Professors Awarded 2009 Kemper Fellowship for Teaching Excellence

April 6, 2009

Story Contact:  Jeffrey Beeson, (573) 882-9144,

COLUMBIA, Mo. - University of Missouri Chancellor Brady Deaton and Commerce Bank Chairman Jim Schatz today awarded two of the 2009 William T. Kemper Fellowships for Teaching Excellence to Kyle Gibson, clinical assistant professor in the Department of Physical Therapy in the MU School of Health Professions and Mitchell McKinney, associate professor in the Department of Communication in the MU College of Arts and Science.

Deaton, Schatz and a group of professors, administrators and staff paid a surprise visit to Gibson and McKinney’s classrooms to honor them 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.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Please see attached biography for details about Gibson and McKinney.


Kyle Gibson, clinical assistant professor of physical therapy

Kyle Gibson joined the MU faculty in 1997 and brings his energy and enthusiasm to his classroom through his unique gift for communicating difficult concepts. He teaches orthopedic physical therapy in the MU School of Health Professions. He is director of curriculum and instruction for the physical therapy department, was co-author of the new “doctor of physical therapy” class, and an adviser for students in the professional phase of the physical therapy program. He developed a novel approach to the admissions interview process for the physical therapy program.

"As an instructor, Dr. Gibson is always concerned with his students' learning," said Molly Winkelmeyer, a former student. "He often asks, 'Did that make sense?' and follows up with another way to explain the topic. He appreciates the spectrum of learning styles and abilities of the students he instructs and is always ready with a visual example, a different explanation, hand motions or a reference in a textbook."

In the classroom, Gibson strives to make sure every student understands the material and is known for creative lectures and innovative teaching ideas.

"Year after year, students give him the highest evaluations of any teacher in physical therapy," said Marion Minor, chair and professor in the Department of Physical Therapy. "For his own classes, he spends a great deal of time developing innovative methods to teach challenging concepts and encourages students to offer their ideas for teaching tools. In the classroom, he sets a relaxed tone, uses humor effectively and matches material with expectations in the most satisfying ways."

"Dr. Gibson is highly admired as a teacher, mentor and role model by students, graduates and peers," said Richard Oliver, dean of the MU School of Health Professions. "I think those who are master teachers have a special gift that can not be acquired regardless of how many workshops one might attend. Dr. Gibson has that special gift, and we are blessed to have him as a member of the MU faculty sharing his gifts with our students, faculty and practitioners."

Gibson received his bachelor’s degree at Northern Illinois University and his master’s degree and doctorate at MU.  

Mitchell S. McKinney, associate professor of communication

In Mitchell McKinney’s nine years of teaching at Mizzou, his dedication, drive and enthusiasm have made a lasting impact on the lives of his students and fellow colleagues. Known for being anything but a "9 to 5er" by the Department of Communication, McKinney has taught more than seven different courses, often using the latest technology to enhance learning in the classroom.

"I really felt that his use of technology and examples was incredibly effective, to the point that I would find myself sharing links of things we watched in class with my friends," one former student said.

As a renowned expert on political communication, McKinney is frequently asked to teach others about the topic. He has been asked to give guest lectures at the University of Zurich and has been interviewed by national and international media. As a role model for many of the department’s graduate students, McKinney teaches his students how to be both an excellent teacher as well as an excellent researcher.

"Dr. McKinney’s passion for knowledge and communication motivates him to continue to grow and learn, which further enhances his teaching effectiveness and ability to disseminate knowledge," said Loreen Olson, associate professor of communication. "This motivation translates into his ability as a teacher by continuing to develop knowledge of the subject matter, familiarity with current events that impact classroom content, and skill as a teacher."

In 2006, McKinney was selected by the National Communication Association to serve a one-year term as director of academic affairs in Washington, D.C. This experience has allowed McKinney to integrate real-life examples into the classroom, helping him connect the communication discipline to what students may encounter in the workplace.

McKinney received his bachelor’s degree at Western Kentucky University, his master’s at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and a doctorate at the University of Kansas.