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MU Professor Awarded 2013 Kemper Fellowship for Teaching Excellence

April 2nd, 2013

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

COLUMBIA, Mo. – University of Missouri Deputy Chancellor Mike Middleton and Commerce Bank Chairman Jim Schatz of Commerce Bank today awarded one of the 2013 William T. Kemper Fellowships for Teaching Excellence to Cheryl Black, an associate professor in the Department of Theatre in the MU College of Arts and Science.

Middleton, Schatz and a group of professors, administrators and staff surprised Black by honoring her with the Fellowship, which includes a $10,000 check. Kemper 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.

ATTACHED : Black Bio

Cheryl Black

Cheryl Black has been an associate professor in the Department of Theatre in the MU College of Arts and Science since 2005 and was recently promoted to professor. Along with instructing students on acting, she teaches theatre history, theory and criticism using a philosophy that empowers students through an interactive environment in which individuals collaborate to achieve common goals. Her students say her use of experiential and active learning techniques encourages independent creation, self-discovery and self-discipline.

“The diverse teaching strategies Dr. Black employs in her classroom increase student engagement and investment in the course and course material,” said Emily Rollie, a doctoral candidate in the theatre department. “Along these same lines, she frequently expresses her desire to learn from her students, a trait which makes her a true collaborator in the classroom and ultimately encourages a strong sense of classroom community and a positive learning environment. She fosters in her students a thirst and excitement for knowledge that energize the classroom and often inspire students to continue their learning beyond the requirements of the class itself.”

Black seeks to help her students appreciate the historical and contemporary significance of theatre and drama and to respect the rigors and responsibilities as well as the joys of theatre artistry. She emphasizes the inclusion of multiple and diverse perspectives and invites students to participate in the selection of course materials, creation of assignments and test questions, and self- and peer-evaluations.

“Dr. Black is one of the primary reasons I chose MU for my master’s program, and why I decided to stay for my doctorate,” said Brett Johnson, an assistant professor of English and theatre at Mercyhurst University. “She is not only a brilliant theatre historian, as indicated by her growing international reputation, but also one of the most kind-hearted people I know. A dynamic teacher, she provides opportunities for students to perform, discuss, write, work as partners and in groups, teach a portion of the material, and experiment with a variety of psychophysical approaches to learning.”

Her work has been instrumental in helping attract the best quality graduate students, facilitating their procurement of fellowships and grants, increasing their participation in regional and national conferences, and helping students complete their dissertations and graduate. Further, Black has directed countless full productions of plays at MU, teaching her students to research and prepare new works and new adaptations of class works and understand the period, style, history and politics of each play production. In 2012, the Association for Theatre in Higher Education awarded her the Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award, the most competitive teaching award in the field.

“Dr. Black is an extraordinary, highly collaborative teacher, and her teaching service to her students, both graduate and undergraduate, has been innovative, incredibly rigorous, generous and far beyond the call of duty,” said David Crespy, director of undergraduate studies in the theatre department.  “She has created new models for teaching theatre at MU and in the profession of theatre in higher education. I cannot think of another professor in our field who has given so selflessly as a teacher, and with such incredible results.”

Black received a bachelor’s degree in English, speech and drama from Charleston Southern University; a master’s degree in speech and theatre from the University of South Carolina; and a doctorate in theatre history, theory and criticism from the University of Maryland at College Park.