Jason Furrer awarded 2024 Kemper Fellowship for Teaching Excellence

March 11, 2024
Contact: Eric Stann, 573-882-3346,

Mun Choi, president of the University of Missouri, Matthew Martens, interim provost and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Missouri, and Steve Sowers, chief executive officer of Commerce Bank’s Missouri community markets, today awarded a 2024 William T. Kemper Fellowship for Teaching Excellence to Jason Furrer. Furrer is an associate teaching professor in the School of Medicine’s Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology (MMI).

Richard Barohn, executive vice chancellor for health affairs and the School of Medicine dean, joined other administrators surprising Furrer by honoring him 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.

Jason Furrer
Jason Furrer biography

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.”

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.

Through an unwavering commitment to fostering critical thinking in his classes, Furrer prepares nursing and pre-medical students with the clinical skills to excel in their chosen fields as well as the patience and empathy to successfully treat a diverse group of people. On campus, Furrer serves as a THRIVE Facilitator, where he advises on inclusive teaching approaches in the STEM field.

“Dr. Furrer is an exceptional asset to our department and university,” Lee-Ann H. Allen, chair of the Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology, said in her nomination letter. “There is extensive objective evidence to demonstrate that Dr. Furrer is an innovative and compassionate educator who has an important and sustained positive impact on all the students who cross his path and who exemplifies everything that an educator should be.”

In an effort to create an easygoing learning environment, Furrer brings his 2-year-old Great Pyrenees puppy Luna to class. Unsurprisingly, she too has a role in endearing students to microbiology.

Furrer teaches a range of classes, including microbiology for nursing and health professions, case-based microbiology and graduate seminars focused on scientific problem solving. His classes include many students who are on track for nursing and medical school — a path that many of Furrer’s students say they feel particularly prepared for due to their professor’s fastidious commitment to helping them excel in class.

“Dr. Furrer represents the excellence in medical education that I expected when I enrolled in the

University of Missouri School of Medicine,” said former student Christian Farley Nieves in his nomination letter. “His teaching philosophy encourages students to work together and communicate to share understandings while building knowledge. After being his student, I hold all my other professors in medical school to the standard of excellence he set.”

Furrer believes that there is always more than one way to solve a problem. In the classroom, he centers independent learning and challenges students to employ initiative and creativity when seeking answers to questions.

In the many, overwhelmingly complimentary student reviews Furrer received last year, students demonstrated their confidence in understanding microbiology, expressed its importance in improving the lives of Missourians and credited both of these views to the stewardship, mentorship and commitment of their professor.

Furrer received a Bachelor of Arts degree in chemistry in 1998 and a doctorate in molecular microbiology and immunology in 2006, both from MU.

Story written by Courtney Perrett

Meet all of the 2024 recipients

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