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MU Professor 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 of Commerce Bank today awarded one of the 2009 William T. Kemper Fellowships for Teaching Excellence to Robert Torres, director of graduate studies and professor in the Department of Agricultural Education in the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources.

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

EDITOR'S NOTE: Please see attached biography for details about Torres.



Robert M. Torres, professor of agriculture education and director of graduate studies

Since his arrival at MU in 2002, Robert Torres has worked tirelessly to improve the quality of K-12 education by preparing both the next generation of high school teachers and those who will teach them. Known to many as a true "teacher's teacher," Torres has challenged students to learn by continuously designing unique and creative learning materials. Along with teaching several courses in the Department of Agricultural Education, he has served as director of undergraduate studies and is the current director of graduate studies.

"He inspires students as an educator with the enthusiasm, creativity and passion he exhibits on a daily basis," said Rebecca Lawyer, MU graduate student. "Whether he is teaching a lesson on leadership theory, teaching methods or correlation research, Dr. Torres does all he can to engage students, motivate them to learn and inspire them to do more."

His excellence in teaching has been recognized by numerous organizations. He has received the Outstanding Agricultural Educator Award, Outstanding Advising Award, Wakonse Fellow and Distinguished Teaching Award.

"Dr. Torres sets high expectations," said Thomas Payne, vice chancellor and dean of the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources. "He conveys his objectives for each lesson and continually checks for student understanding. He provides one-on-one instruction and is always available for students both in and out of the classroom."

Torres received his bachelor's and his master's degrees at New Mexico State University. He received his doctorate at The Ohio State University.