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MU Professors Awarded 2015 Kemper Fellowship for Teaching Excellence

April 3rd, 2015

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

COLUMBIA, Mo. – University of Missouri Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin and Commerce Bank Chairman Jim Schatz of Commerce Bank this week awarded five 2015 William T. Kemper Fellowships for Teaching Excellence to outstanding MU teachers. This year’s winners are: Elisa Glick, an associate professor of English and women’s and gender studies in the MU College of Arts and Science; Rachel Harper, the director of the MU Writing Center and a member of the Honors Humanities faculty in the MU Honors College; Berkley Hudson, an associate professor of magazine journalism in the MU School of Journalism; Nicole Monnier, an associate teaching professor of Russian in the MU College of Arts and Science; and Trista Strauch, an assistant teaching professor of animal sciences in the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources.

Loftin, Schatz and a group of professors, administrators and staff surprised the winners with the Fellowships, which include $10,000 checks. Kemper Fellowships are awarded to five outstanding teachers at the University of Missouri each year. This year is the 25th anniversary of the first William T. Kemper Fellowships for Teaching Excellence.

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 : Biographies of all five winners.

Elisa Glick
Associate Professor
Department of Women’s & Gender Studies
English Department
College of Arts & Science
MU Faculty Member Since 2001

From facilitating difficult class discussions to serving as an advocate for freedom of sexual orientation, Elisa Glick combines compassion with intellectual rigor in her teaching. She challenges her students to be better people, thinkers and citizens.

“Beyond compassion and time spent nurturing individual students, Glick’s teaching strategy requires personal bravery,” says David Read, chair of the MU English Department. “She teaches students to value personal experience as a form of knowledge that they can understand in a historical, social and theoretical context. Sometimes this means putting her own personal experiences on the line.”

An openly gay faculty member, Glick specializes in lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer studies and taught some of the first courses in this area at MU. By teaching and mentoring a significant number of students as an adviser, Glick makes her classroom a safe space for learning about and discussing issues pertaining to gender and sexuality.

“Students see bravery in Glick’s choices of content and supporting materials for her classes, which includes sharing her own lived experiences with the class,” says Joan Hermsen, associate professor of sociology and chair of the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies. “Glick challenges students to open themselves to dialogue about theories of gender and sexuality that are, for the most part, completely new to students. Students have said her courses push boundaries for them both academically and personally, teach them how to engage with difficult and challenging material in a thoughtful manner, and affirm students as important agents in their own education.”

Glick says she believes teaching is much more than an intellectual exercise. Teachers, she says, perform a crucial social function by helping students to unlock their minds and see the world in new ways. She professes a commitment to helping students connect academic questions to social realities by teaching them how to think rather than what to think.

“Dr. Glick has the reputation of being both an incredibly intellectually rigorous professor and also extremely warm, kind, compassionate and caring,” says Rebecca Dingo, an associate professor in English and women’s and gender studies at MU. “During my two years as director of undergraduate studies for women’s and gender studies, her classes were always full, and students consistently reported their love for her classes. They reported feeling welcomed and challenged in her classes, not only because of the subject matter but also because Dr. Glick pushed them to think about identity and representation in new ways.”

Glick earned a bachelor’s degree in English and political science from the University of Pennsylvania and a doctorate in English from Brown University.

Rachel Harper
Director of the MU Writing Center
Coordinator of the Honors Humanities Sequence
MU Honors College
MU Faculty Member Since 1995

Rachel Harper has called teaching at MU one of the great joys of her life. It is her passion for teaching that led Harper to her position as director of the MU Writing Center in 2007. Harper is not only a teacher and a tutor; she is also a leader, with exceptional energy and generosity, say her students and colleagues.

“Dr. Harper is one of the few professors who have made difficult works enjoyable, converting at least one staunch biology student to an avid reader of the classics,” says Azeem Khan, senior biology major and former student of Harper’s. “She also shows incredible generosity with her time and effort in helping us become better writers, and, perhaps most importantly, she has inspired us to continue learning on our own, making the humanities part of our daily lives and even our future careers.”

Harper says her obligation to feed her students’ acute hunger for learning has been a guiding force throughout her education career. In her 20 years of teaching at MU, Harper has been instrumental in the revitalization of the Honors Humanities Sequence, bringing together respected and distinguished faculty from across the campus to lecture in the Humanities Series. Harper also has worked to enhance the training of student tutors in the Writing Center, improving teaching techniques among student tutors from diverse departments.

“Rachel’s focus on students carries over to her work as the Honor Series coordinator,” says philosophy professor Peter Markie. “Rachel leads our planning for each semester’s offerings and recruits the faculty who teach in the series. She deftly guides us through our strongly held, but often conflicting, views on which works to teach, lecturers to invite and exams to give. She brings in new and talented teachers to lecture and leads discussion sections. Her efforts are always aimed at what is best for the students. What works can they gain the most from studying? What faculty can best teach them?”

In addition to serving as a teacher and mentor to more than 100 students, Harper is a member of the Honors College’s curriculum committee and the Honors Humanities Advisory Board.

“Rachel has done as much as anyone on campus to get students to appreciate the value of the humanities at a time when it couldn’t be more under siege,” says Nancy West, director of the MU Honors College. “Through her work, students and faculty have learned about the values of different cultures, about what goes into making works of art, about how history is made. She has helped preserve the great accomplishments of the past — and thus has helped those around her understand the world they live in and given them tools to imagine the future.”

Harper earned bachelor’s degrees in English and Spanish from Illinois Wesleyan University, and she holds master’s and doctoral degrees in American literature from the University of Missouri.

Berkley Hudson
Associate Professor
Magazine Journalism
Vox Magazine
School of Journalism
MU Faculty Member Since 2003

Berkley Hudson’s students and peers consistently describe him as a dedicated, innovative and compassionate teacher who places a high priority on finding out who his students are as learners.

“Berkley Hudson is a rare breed,” says John Fennell, an associate professor at the MU School of Journalism. “One of his mentors described him as a hothouse orchid — an apt image for a professor who constantly shows his students how beautiful journalism can be. His goal is to inspire confidence in students, to get into their minds and souls, where real, lasting learning happens. He wants to place his indelible mark on students who pass through our corridors so when they leave here they remember what inspired them to be here in the first place: to tell stories that matter and to bring meaning to our world. The scores of students who follow him years after graduating are a testament to his exceptional skills and to his humanity.”

At MU, Hudson teaches intermediate and advanced magazine-writing courses and has served as a writing coach to students for Vox magazine. He is known for his ability to captivate the attention of his students with unconventional methods and engaging stories. In the classroom, he uses props such as musical instruments, connecting the composing of unforgettable melodies to the writing of well-developed stories.

“I’ve only known Berkley for a semester, but already he has impressed me as an extraordinarily creative and energetic teacher with much to offer his students,” says Paige Williams, associate professor at the MU School of Journalism and contributing writer for the New Yorker. “Berkley’s methods, which include drums, weird hats and field trips to exotic caves, have achieved legendary status for good reason: Students exit his classes with minds zapped awake to the possibilities of writing. His lessons cannot help but leave a lasting, meaningful impression.”

Hudson is a magnetic teacher who builds long-lasting relationships with his students. His students have gone on to write for media outlets including Men’s Health and ESPN. He works hard to discover what makes each student special and helps his students take full advantage of those qualities in work and in life.

“Being a teacher isn’t something that Berkley Hudson just does; it’s something he is,” says Heather Lamb, assistant professor at the MU School of Journalism and Vox editorial director. “I have watched Berkley hold the rapt attention of an entire room of students, teaching assistants and faculty as he shared his vision for a magazine piece or his knowledge and passion on a topic. He pushes all those with whom he comes into contact to think more, care more, try differently — and he helps students become the best versions of themselves.”

Hudson has taught at the University of Rhode Island and California State University’s Fullerton and Los Angeles campuses. He is an experienced reporter and editor who has worked for the Los Angeles Times and the Providence Journal. He currently serves as editor-in-chief of Visual Communication Quarterly, an international peer-reviewed journal.

Hudson earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Mississippi, a master’s degree from Columbia University and a doctorate from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Nicole Monnier
Associate Professor
Department of Russian & German Studies
College of Arts & Science
MU Faculty Member Since 2000

Nicole Monnier’s colleagues say that her success as a teacher and an adviser stems from her sense of purpose: guiding students to the highest level of achievement they can attain.

“Monnier seems to possess an almost innate ability not merely to teach the subject under study but also to educate the student — to help him or her gain interest in the topic and in the culture that suffuses it,” says Gennady Barabtarlo, professor of Russian at MU. “In fact, her chief strength lies in that Nicole sees the student as the focus of her efforts, not the ‘teaching process,’ not the subject and certainly not herself. This is the most effective way of teaching a humanities course. In my opinion, that’s what the word ‘pedagogy’ really means.”

Monnier emphasizes that teaching is a process that continually attempts to adapt to changes in subject matter and student needs. Through this process, Monnier says, students can not only learn Russian effectively but also gain skills to equip themselves to become lifelong learners. As coordinator of first-year Russian, Monnier has maintained and strengthened the program at a time when interest in Russian studies has been waning. Monnier developed the writing-intensive Russian Civilization course as well as many other courses in the program.

“The first-year Russian program at our university, which Dr. M oversees, is by far the best-taught and most organized introduction to a language that I have ever experienced,” says Lauren Fath, an MU master’s student in Russian and Slavonic studies and a doctoral student in English. “Dr. M kindled in me, and in my peers, a heartfelt appreciation for the Russian language. Under her instruction, I came to embrace the complexities and beauty of a foreign language in a new way. Sensing my enthusiasm for Russian, Dr. M urged me to enroll in Russian literature courses at the graduate level.”

In addition to teaching and managing the first-year Russian program, Monnier serves as the study-abroad coordinator for her department’s program with Saratov State University in Russia. Monnier also serves as the faculty adviser of MU’s Russian Club. She is a member of MU’s Faculty Council and Fellowships Office Advisory Committee as well as numerous graduate committees.

“Monnier has contributed passionately and brilliantly to every aspect of the teaching mission,” says Tim Langen, chair of the Department of German and Russian Studies at MU. “She has taught very large and very small courses, to freshman and graduate students, and her teaching is singularly effective. Her advising activities, both formal and informal, encompass everything from course selection to life decisions, and students in her care unvaryingly express gratitude for the help she gives them. She serves on local and national committees with unwavering focus on the process and quality of education in the broadest sense.”

Monnier earned a bachelor’s degree in Russian from Mount Holyoke College and master’s and doctoral degrees in Russian literature from Princeton University.

Trista Strauch
Assistant Teaching Professor
Fisheries & Wildlife Sciences
School of Natural Resources
College of Agriculture, Food & Natural Resources
MU Faculty Member Since 2006

Trista Strauch’s students and colleagues say she has excelled in her role as an educator, improving student learning, performance and enthusiasm.

“Dr. Strauch is not only a gifted teacher but also has the compassion to help students become self-learners and problem-solvers in any field they choose,” says Rodney Geisert, professor of reproductive biology at MU. “Students love her not because she is easy but because she pushes them to accept responsibility for their own educations and choices. Dr. Strauch is willing to help every student, but she expects nothing short of their full commitment and willingness to go beyond average. For that, many have moved into careers which previously were only dreams. I believe Dr. Strauch’s dedication to and success in teaching and in establishing a new program in food and agriculture sciences exemplifies the purpose of the William T. Kemper Fellowship for Teaching Excellence Award.”

Originally hired in 2006 to serve as coordinator for the Division of Animal Sciences’ newly established captive wild management minor emphasis, Strauch has since taken on the revision and updating of the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences’ introductory zoology course.

Strauch says her philosophy of teaching has four main components:  1) Teaching is interactive and requires the establishment of trust. 2) Students learn best through personal discovery. 3) Students must be trained to critically evaluate and apply information. 4) Students need to take personal responsibility for their education.

“Hands down, our most successful undergraduate experience, involving some 150 students, is entirely due to Trista’s efforts and energy,” says John Jones, professor and chair of the MU Department of Fisheries and Wildlife. “She teaches an introductory course on captive animal management that includes guest speakers from the industry. The senior seminar is taught in two sections to accommodate class conflicts, and she oversees scores of summer internship experiences at zoos and similar facilities in numerous locations, including Alaska.”

In addition to teaching, Strauch advises nearly 200 students a year, and in 2014 she wrote more than 65 letters of recommendation for those students. Strauch also serves on a number of committees and boards, including the CAFNR Advising, Learning and Teaching Enhancement Committee, the Office of Service Learning Advisory Board, the Animal Sciences Academic Affairs Committee and two subcommittees within the Commission for Student Success.

“Dr. Strauch is clearly a professor any student would be lucky to have, but she also works just as hard to be an excellent adviser,” says Rachel Gerrard, an MU graduate student. “I know that during the time before class registration, it is hard to not find her in her office with a student intently listening to her advice on how to best structure his or her schedule for the next semester or what internship will get him or her prepared for a future career. From personal experience with her as an adviser, I know that she will spend as long as it takes with students to talk out any issues until they can leave her office feeling comfortable with their schedule, career objective, or project design.”

Strauch earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in animal sciences from the University of Missouri and a doctorate in physiology of reproduction from Texas A&M University. She completed post-doctoral research at the Animal Physiology Research Unit at United States Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service in Columbia, Missouri.