Seth Howes awarded 2024 Kemper Fellowship for Teaching Excellence

Seth Howes

March 7, 2024
Contact: Eric Stann, 573-882-3346,
StannE@missouri.edu

Matthew Martens, interim provost and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Missouri, along with Sarah Dubbert, president of the Columbia market for Commerce Bank, today awarded a 2024 William T. Kemper Fellowship for Teaching Excellence to Seth Howes. Howes is an associate professor of German and associate chair of the School of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures in the College of Arts and Science.

Cooper Drury, dean of the College of Arts and Science, joined other administrators surprising Howes 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.

Seth Howes biography

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. He places students’ own perspectives and their ability to articulate them at the center of his teaching.

“Seth is beloved by students because of his dynamic classroom presence,” said Sean Franzel, an associate professor of German, in his nomination letter. “I’ve had the opportunity to visit Seth’s classroom twice this semester, and both sessions were master classes in how to give students the space and self-confidence to share their ideas and insights. Seth is a master of the Socratic method.”

Former student Oliver Seifert-Gram experienced this classroom presence first-hand and noted its effect on himself and his fellow students.

“Dr. Howes’ classroom is a place I’ve seen many students learn to stop being afraid of being wrong, grow a willingness to try new things, and reach out to grasp whatever makes them curious,” Seifert-Gram said in his nomination letter. “He sees and brings out the best in each of his students as both scholars and human beings, and he’s taught me and many others so much more than German studies because he teaches self-worth and tenacity, curiosity and compassion.”

Howes’ notable influence and empowerment of students goes beyond the classroom, extending to multiple areas of the undergraduate experience. He has led several study abroad trips, and his guidance and support to students participating in these programs is described as integral in creating a positive experience.

“While in Germany, Dr. Howes provided substantial individual support to each student on the trip and also encouraged our independence and collaboration,” said former student Jordyn Lodes in her nomination letter. “I am forever grateful to him for his part in the self-confidence and lifelong friendships I gained through my study abroad experience.”

In addition to his role as associate professor of German, Howes is the faculty co-director of the MU Humanities Symposium for Undergraduate Research and faculty advisor for the German Club. He has advised students as their thesis director, served on thesis committees and taught grant writing through his work as a faculty fellow for the MU Fellowships Office.

Through these various roles, Howes has guided students through fellowship applications, undergraduate research and graduate theses. His mentorship has been described by students as devoted, compassionate and encouraging, often going above and beyond to ensure they are successful.

“Dr. Howes was invested in my success and as excited about my work as if it were his own,” former student Luci Cook said in her nomination letter. “His feedback helped me hone my skills, and his words of encouragement helped me find the motivation to continue when it seemed impossible. It is a bit baffling to me how he finds the time to be so unceasingly supportive, patient, and encouraging to each student, but he nevertheless finds that time.”

It is through Howes’ various commitments to excellence in the undergraduate experience that he has solidified himself as a devoted mentor and faculty member. He is admired not only by his students, but fellow professors who note his commitment to fostering success.

“Seth fosters an inclusive, supportive, and intellectually challenging experience for undergraduates across a gamut of classroom experiences,” said Megan Moore, chair of the School of Languages, Literatures and Cultures, in her nomination letter. “He is one of the remarkable teachers at Mizzou whose devotion to all aspects of student success is matched by his vision and leadership in enacting curriculum, policies and opportunities that make the Mizzou environment truly exceptional for our undergraduates.”

Howes received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Texas at Austin in 2006. He also earned a Doctor of Philosophy degree from the University of Michigan in 2012.

Story written by Jennifer Manning

Meet all of the 2024 recipients

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