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MU Professor Awarded 2010 Kemper Fellowship for Teaching Excellence

April 6th, 2010

Story Contact: Nathan Hurst, 573-882-6217,

COLUMBIA, Mo. – University of Missouri Chancellor Brady Deaton and Commerce Bank Chairman Jim Schatz of Commerce Bank today awarded one of the 2010 William T. Kemper Fellowships for Teaching Excellence to Michael Barnes, assistant teaching professor and director of undergraduate studies in the Department of Classical Studies at the MU College of Arts and Science.

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

Michael Barnes, Professor of Classical Studies

Michael Barnes, who has been teaching in the Department of Classical Studies at MU since 2004, brings a presence and knowledge to the classroom that leaves a lasting impression on his students. He teaches both introductory and graduate level courses in the Honors College, humanities sequence and languages, including the introductory course Classical Mythology.

“He not only has the ability to explain difficult material, displaying a great wealth of knowledge, but he can relate the subject matter back to the world of college students,” said Samuel Kruvand, a former student.

Barnes combines diverse approaches to create a casual, unrehearsed feeling in the classroom. As a teacher and adviser, he dedicates a large amount of his time to meeting with students individually.

As the director of undergraduate studies for classical studies, Barnes advises students on classes and future career paths. He has created meaningful connections with students outside of the classroom and served as co-facilitator for a Freshman Interest Group in classics. He is the editor of Classical and Modern Literature, a journal published by the Department of Classical Studies. Besides editing the journal, Barnes has created an opportunity for a graduate student each year to learn how to conduct scholarly research in the classical studies field.

“Students flock to his classes and work hard in them; faculty praise him for his extensive and thorough preparation and the quality of materials he produces; all recognize his natural enthusiasm and engaging manner,” said David Schenker, chair and associate professor of the Department of Classical Studies. “In my 25 years of teaching at the college and university level, I have never seen a better teacher than Mike Barnes.”

Barnes received his bachelor’s degree in classical studies and English literature at the University of Houston and his master’s degree and doctorate at MU.