Five University of Missouri professors receive $10,000 award

The William T. Kemper Fellowships for teaching excellence awards outstanding teachers annually

Kemper Awards for MU teachers

COLUMBIA, Mo. - Classrooms the Monday after Spring Break are not often filled with cheers.

However, that was the case today for five teachers at the University of Missouri.  

They were each surprised with a $10,000 check.

The William T. Kemper Fellowships for teaching and excellence is an award given each spring to five outstanding teachers that exemplify what Mizzou is all about. 

This year 20 teachers were nominated.

Any student, faculty, or organization can nominate a teacher.

After nominations were made a panel of faculty and administrators chose five.

Monday was the day to surprise the recipients.

"This feels like the best dream ever," said Leigh Neier, a professor with the college of education.

She was the first professor that was surprised by Chancellor Bowen Loftin and Jim Shatz with Commerce Bank.

The two barged into each classroom unannounced to give the prestigious award and a $10,000 check.

The money can be spent anyway the teachers would like.

Among today's recipients were Leigh Neier who is an assistant teaching professor in the Department of Learning, Teaching, and Curriculum at the MU College of Education since 2005.

"Thank you all from the bottom of my pounding heart. It really could just pound out of my chest right now. Wow." said Neier.

Jeff Krug is an assistant teaching professor of physical therapy since 2001.

"I love what I do. I love coming to work, so this is ridiculous being rewarded for something you love," said Krug.

Ann Harrel is a professor of voice in the school of music since 1992.

"It is a wonderful environment to do your best work," said Harrel.

John Bennett is a professor of marketing in the MU Trulaske College of Business since 2005.

"This is confirmation that I chose my career field wisely. My thanks go to my students. They make it possible for me to come to class everyday with a smile on my face," said Bennett.

Bryon Wiegand is a professor of animal science in the Division of Animal Sciences in the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources since 2007.

"This is the way you come back from spring break to get everyone energized," said Wiegand.

This was Chancellor Loftin's first year presenting these awards and told ABC 17 News that there is nothing better than a great surprise, and it's always a bonus to see the students reactions.
"Fundamentally we are here for one reason to teach our students, and this is a way to recognize the best among the best," said Chancellor Loftin.

Almost all of the teachers did receive a standing ovation from their students.

Due to past scheduling conflicts, this was the first time in 24 years of the award's history that all were given out the same day.

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