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MU Biology Professor Awarded 2016 Kemper Fellowship for Teaching Excellence

April 6th, 2016

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

COLUMBIA, Mo. – University of Missouri interim Chancellor Hank Foley and Commerce Bank Chairman Jim Schatz today awarded one of the 2016 William T. Kemper Fellowships for Teaching Excellence to Sarah Bush, an associate teaching professor of biological sciences in the MU College of Arts and Science.

Foley, Schatz and a group of professors, administrators and staff surprised Bush 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.

This year is the 26th anniversary of the first William T. Kemper Fellowships for Teaching Excellence, which 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.


Sarah Bush
Associate Teaching Professor
Biological Science
Division of Biological Science
College of Arts & Science
MU Faculty Member Since 2001

Sarah Bush has recognized the enduring problem of emphasizing, memorizing and regurgitating large quantities of facts and definitions within biology education. It is this problem that drives her goals of fostering critical thinking and engaging students by connecting science to their lives. Bush not only is a scholar, biologist and teacher, she also is a mentor to her students; one who shows exceptional compassion and interest in her student’s education and personal lives.

Students and colleagues regularly praise Bush as a professor who not only has the ability to facilitate learning, but also is inspiring and shows a genuine interest in her students. This is evident in her evaluation scores, which John Walker, Curators Professor and director of the Division of Biological Science, said are well above average for all courses, when compared with other courses at the same level.

According to Bush’s students, it is her welcoming personality that makes her stand apart as a professor. Former student Cody McCarson said he would often visit Bush unannounced in her office and that she never failed to stop what she was doing to spend time with him.

“Whenever I found myself near her building, I would interrupt her work to pester her with questions. To Sarah, a student interested in learning would always come first,” McCarson said. “I always appreciated her dedication.”

This dedication extends beyond connecting with her students on a personal level. Bush also is known as a professor who has a talent for making science relevant to all students, regardless of their majors.

Bush teaches two general education courses, which Walker said many students enter with little or no science background. He said many students aim to leave with nothing more than their general education science requirement fulfilled. However, this is not the case with Bush’s students. Through her creativity and use of classroom technology, Bush creates meaningful examples and applies science to students’ lives. Students regularly acknowledge her for giving them a renewed interest in biology.

“It came as a great surprise to discover that after years of avoiding biology, it would become my favorite subject in college,” McCarson said. “Sarah Bush made the material relevant and interesting.”

“There is no doubt in my mind that she has a passion for her subject area and a passion for student learning,” said Shari Freyermuth, assistant dean of academic programs in the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources. “She sincerely cares about them and their learning.”

Bush earned a bachelor’s degree in animal behavior from Bucknell University and a doctorate in biology from the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England. She is the recipient of numerous awards including the 2015 Ernest L. Boyer International Award for Excellence in Teaching, Learning and Technology.