Amy Knopps awarded 2024 Kemper Fellowship for Teaching Excellence

March 7, 2024
Contact: Eric Stann, 573-882-3346,

Matthew Martens, interim provost and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Missouri, and Sarah Dubbert, president of the Columbia market for Commerce Bank, today awarded a 2024 William T. Kemper Fellowship for Teaching Excellence to Amy Knopps. Knopps is an associate teaching professor for the School of Music in the College of Arts and Science as well as the associate director of bands and director of athletic bands.

Cooper Drury, dean of the College of Arts and Science, joined other administrators surprising Knopps by honoring her with the fellowship, which includes a $15,000 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.

Amy Knopps
Amy Knopps biography

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.

For example, in the past few years, Marching Mizzou has played in an exhibition performance for the Kansas City Chiefs and for Amazon Prime’s Thursday Night Football premiere at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. The band also was invited to perform in the 2022 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City and will travel to Dublin, Ireland next week to perform in a St. Patrick's Festival Parade.

Students cite Knopps’ organization and uplifting attitude as assets to their learning. Approaching her students with a professional yet friendly demeanor, Knopps is described as a reliable instructor with a highly structured method for crafting exemplary performances while also being a figure students can depend on for personal support.

“Dr. Knopps, with her consistently positive attitude, navigates through events, games and unexpected challenges with grace,” student Calvin Banks said in his nomination letter. “What distinguishes Dr. Knopps is her unparalleled teaching style and ability to establish a genuine connection with each of the 350 students in Marching Mizzou while effectively communicating assignments and expectations. Her attention to detail is truly commendable.”

In her time at MU, Knopps has earned several impressive accolades. Most recently, she received the Mizzou Alumni Association Faculty and Alumni Award and the University of Missouri Distinguished Alumni Award. The awards recognize her influence on Mizzou as both an educator and alumna.

Knopps was also awarded the Purple Chalk Award and named the College of Arts and Science Associate Professor of the Year in 2021, highlighting her efforts to provide enriching educational experiences for students through her teaching skills.

“Dr. Knopps' contributions to the School of Music have been nothing short of transformative," said Jared Rawlings, director of the School of Music, in his nomination letter. “Her dedication, leadership and innovative teaching methods have created an environment in which students thrive and our program excels.”

Before joining the University of Missouri, Knopps served as an associate professor of music, associate director of bands and director of athletic bands at Eastern Michigan University. Knopps received a bachelor’s degree in music education from the University of Missouri in 2001, a Master of Music degree from the University of Kansas in 2007 and a doctorate in musical arts from the University of Georgia in 2010.

Story written by Audrey Brown

Meet all of the 2024 recipients

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