2024 Kemper Fellowship for Teaching Excellence recipients announced

Meet the five faculty members who were honored.

  • nicole campione-barr is surprised with a kemper award
    Nicole Campione-Barr, a professor of psychological sciences in the College of Arts and Science, director of undergraduate research in psychology and the Honors Capstone Program.

March 6, 2024
Contact: Eric Stann, 573-882-3346, StannE@missouri.edu

Each year, five outstanding teachers at the University of Missouri are selected as recipients of the prestigious William T. Kemper Fellowship for Teaching Excellence. This peer-nominated award includes a $15,000 stipend. This week and next, university administrators and executives from Commerce Bank will surprise the honorees.

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.

Nicole Campione-Barr
Nicole Campione-Barr, a professor of psychological sciences in the College of Arts and Science, director of undergraduate research in psychology and the Honors Capstone Program

Nicole Campione-Barr, a professor of psychological sciences in the College of Arts and Science, inspires her students to be at their best in their fields and in their lives.

“Early in the development of a new skill, individuals seek a warm and supportive mentor or model to aid and scaffold their learning,” Campione-Barr said in her teaching philosophy statement. “With increasing competence and maturity in the skill, however, individuals must be allowed to gain increasing autonomy from their mentors in order to achieve independent success.”

While some of her students might go on to be developmental scientists like herself, Campione-Barr acknowledges that many more will go on to be parents.

“Adults who are more knowledgeable about child development are more confident and competent parents, teachers and mentors,” Campione-Barr said.

Nicole Campione-Barr’s full biography

Jason Furrer, an associate teaching professor in the School of Medicine

Known fondly across campus for his charisma, mentorship and inclusive teaching philosophy, Jason Furrer, a professor of microbiology in the University of Missouri’s School of Medicine, is devoted to his students’ success.

While students are often fearful of microbiology because of its reputation as a challenging and dense subject, Furrer’s dedication to creative teaching methods has, time and again, changed students’ hearts and minds on this.

“I could tell from day one as a student in Dr. Furrer’s classroom that he was not only extremely passionate about teaching but also exceptionally knowledgeable about the subject material,” Amy Feddersen, a former student, said in her nomination letter. “I will never forget one discussion we had where candy lifesavers were strewn across the stage and chairs on rollers were sent colliding, all in an effort to help us understand the immune system! The level of confidence in the material I gained through taking this class helped me figure out that nursing was the right career for me.”g

Furrer thrives on innovating and pushing the bounds of traditional teaching by advancing the development of new teaching methods, including the digital lab he pioneered for in-person teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic, which received national acclaim.

Jason Furrer’s full biography

seth howes portrait
Seth Howes, an associate professor of German and associate chair of the School of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures in the College of Arts and Science

In the University of Missouri School of Languages, Literatures and Cultures, Seth Howes is regarded as the true embodiment of a teacher and mentor — fundamentally reshaping the undergraduate and graduate experience.

“From his first years at MU, Seth established himself not only as one of the strongest scholars among our research-productive German faculty, but as one of our strongest teachers and mentors for undergraduate and graduate students alike,” said Nicole Monnier, associate dean of undergraduate students in a letter nominating Howes for the Kemper Award.

Howes’ impact on students can be seen in the almost reverential tones used when speaking of their experiences in his classroom, Monnier noted in her letter nominating him for the Kemper Fellowship for Teaching Excellence.

Across a variety of German language courses and study abroad trips, Howes promotes an environment where students feel empowered to speak up and join the conversation.

Seth Howes’s full biography

amy knopps headshot
Amy Knopps, an associate teaching professor for the School of Music in the College of Arts and Science, associate director of bands and director of athletic bands

A graduate of the University of Missouri and former member of Marching Mizzou, Amy Knopps infuses the spirit of Mizzou into every band performance she directs. Her lifelong dedication to music has informed a teaching philosophy focused on developing her students into both good musicians and good humans.

“Dr. Knopps takes personal responsibility to not only be available to create personal relationships with all of her students but to foster an atmosphere of family,” former student and Marching Mizzou member Alex Weinzierl said in his nomination letter. “Having previously been a member of Marching Mizzou herself as an undergraduate here, Dr. Knopps understands the huge positive impact that this ensemble can have for every student who participates in it, and she ensures that every student in her class finds the same home in band that she experienced.”

As director of Marching Mizzou, Mini Mizzou and the Symphonic Band, Knopps is known for her efficient and energetic teaching style. Coordinating the athletic bands through the challenges of college sports games, Knopps’ ability to dispel obstacles and create effective rehearsals has paved the way for MU’s participation in some of the most prestigious opportunities available for college marching bands.

Amy Knopps’s full biography

chris prestigiacomo headshot
Chris Prestigiacomo, an associate teaching professor in the Robert J. Trulaske, Sr. College of Business

Since 1984, there’s never been a day Chris Prestigiacomo didn’t want to come to school.

“My primary goal is to give my students the opportunity to improve their lives by adding to their human capital,” he said in his teaching philosophy statement. “Having contact with more than 1,000 students each year, I have the responsibility to bring the promise of a better life to each and every one. This involves not only teaching accounting material in an organized and understandable manner, but also critical thinking skills and other life lessons.”

One of the countless students Prestigiacomo impacted was William Shafer in the extremely popular Accounting I course — a requirement for all business students.

“He managed to teach in a lighthearted, jovial manner, making seemingly tedious topics enjoyable to learn,” Shafer said in his nomination letter. “Dr. Prestigiacomo purposefully dedicates time to weave insightful life lessons into the curriculum, sharing personal stories that enrich the learning journey and contribute to a comprehensive educational experience. I left the class not only with a solid understanding of accounting principles but also as a more confident and capable individual.”

Chris Prestigiacomo’s full biography

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