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MU Professor Awarded 2011 Kemper Fellowship for Teaching Excellence

April 4th, 2011

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

By Brad Fischer

COLUMBIA, Mo. – University of Missouri Chancellor Brady Deaton and Commerce Bank Chairman Jim Schatz of Commerce Bank today awarded one of the 2011 William T. Kemper Fellowships for Teaching Excellence to Etti Naveh-Benjamin, a visiting teaching professor in the Department of Psychological Sciences and lecturer in the Department of German and Russian Studies, in the MU College of Arts and Science.

Deaton, Schatz and a group of professors, administrators and staff surprised Naveh-Benjamin by honoring her 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.


Naveh-Benjamin Bio

Etti Naveh-Benjamin has taught cross-cultural psychology and Israeli culture courses at MU since 2002. She believes in teaching students by inspiring them to be active and immersed in their education.

“Etti is very enthusiastic about the material she is teaching and her enthusiasm makes students want to learn,” said Alan Strathman, director of undergraduate studies in the Department of Psychological Sciences. “She is the kind of teacher who has a tremendous impact on her students’ lives.”

Naveh-Benjamin has served as the director of the Multicultural Certificate program since 2008. She advises students selecting multicultural and diversity courses to complement their backgrounds and disciplines. Naveh-Benjamin has kept in touch with more than 100 former students, who feel they can go to Naveh-Benjamin with any personal or professional dilemma. Many students say Naveh-Benjamin’s teaching changed the way they view the world.

“Etti’s classroom is a portal, a space through which students travel as the semester progresses, emerging as entirely new people with open minds, expanded horizons and an unquenchable thirst for new ideas and understanding,” said Jessica Ekhoff, an MU alumna and current law student at the University of Chicago.

Previously Naveh-Benjamin has received several teaching awards including the Purple Chalk Award from the College of Arts and Science and the Catalyst Award for excellence in teaching and contributing to diversity at MU.

Naveh-Benjamin earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Eastern Michigan University.