April 9, 2021
Contact: Sara Diedrich, 573-882-3243, DiedrichS@missouri.edu
This week, the University of Missouri honored the 2021 recipients of the William T. Kemper Fellowships for Teaching Excellence with a mix of virtual and in-person surprise announcements during the teachers’ classes.
Mun Choi, president of the University of Missouri, Latha Ramchand, MU provost and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs, and Steve Sowers, president and CEO of the central region of Commerce Bank, surprised five MU teachers with news of the honor and its $15,000 award.
“The prestigious Kemper Fellowship recognizes the best of the best teachers at Mizzou, and the joyful reactions we see each year from the students when they learn about the award is proof of the high regard students have for these excellent educators,” Ramchand said. “I’m delighted for each of this year’s Kemper Fellows, and I look forward to continuing this tradition for years to come with the help of Commerce Bank.”
2021 is the 31st year that MU teachers have been honored with Kemper Fellowships, with 230 teachers earning the award to date. Since the beginning, leadership from MU and Commerce Bank have carried on the tradition of bursting into classrooms to surprise the winning teachers with the news in the middle of class.
This year’s honorees were Sheri-Marie Harrison, Heather Hunt, Laurie Kingsley, Antoinette Landor and Martha Steffens. Last year, the monetary award attached to the fellowship was permanently increased from $10,000 to $15,000.
Established in 1991 with a $500,000 gift, the Kemper Foundation — in partnership with Commerce Bank and the University of Missouri — awards the Kemper Fellowship to five outstanding teachers at MU. From 1991-2005, the award was given to 10 teachers per year. Last year’s $5,000 increase was the first time the award amount had changed since its inception.
The award’s namesake is William T. Kemper, who graduated from MU in 1926 and went on to become a well-known banker, civic leader and philanthropist in Missouri and elsewhere in the Midwest. After Kemper’s death in 1989, the Kemper Fellowship was created to continue his legacy of service to education and civic engagement.
For more information about the Kemper Fellowships or this year’s honorees, click here.