Three MU faculty members receive Kemper Fellowship Awards

Monday, April 4, 2011 | 5:53 p.m. CDT; updated 9:38 p.m. CDT, Monday, April 4, 2011
MU Chancellor Brady Deaton announces Etti Naveh-Benjamin as a recipient of the William T. Kemper Fellowship for Teaching Excellence during a surprise visit to her classroom on Monday. Chancellor Deaton and Commerce Bank Chairman Jim Schatz presented Naveh-Benjamin with the fellowship, which includes a $10,000 award.

COLUMBIA — Three MU faculty members were left with smiles on their faces after a visit from Chancellor Brady Deaton on Monday.

Deaton surprised Bethany Stone, Mike McKean and Etti Naveh-Benjamin with the William T. Kemper Fellowship for Teaching Excellence.

The fellowships are given annually to five outstanding educators and include a $10,000 award. They are funded by a $500,000 gift from the family of William Kemper, an MU graduate and Kansas City civic leader.

The three fellowship winners will be joined by two more to be announced Tuesday and Friday. The names of the winners are kept secret until Deaton makes the announcement live in a classroom.

Bethany Stone, an assistant teaching professor in the division of biological sciences, said she was shocked when she saw the cameras come into her class.

Stone, who teaches introductory biology courses, said she works to make biology as applicable to the lives of her students as she can.

"I think about how they are going to be using biology in five, 10 years when they are starting to have kids, and in 30 years when medical problems pop up," Stone said.

John David, director of the division of biological sciences, applauded Stone as a teacher.

"Bethany is energetic, excited and clearly understands her students and wants them to do well and reach their full potential," David said in a news release.

Just two hours later, Deaton surprised McKean, associate professor of convergence journalism in the School of Journalism, while he was conducting class in the Reynolds Journalism Institute.

"I'm rarely speechless, but this might be one of those times I come close," McKean said.

He has been part of the MU School of Journalism for 25 years and led in the creation of the convergence emphasis area six years ago.

McKean said that coming into work every day is made easy by the quality of students in the Journalism School. He said that he hopes receiving this award is as reflective of his students as it is of himself.

McKean earned a bachelor's degree from the Missouri School of Journalism and a master of arts in political science from Rice University.

The final award handed out Monday was given to Etti Naveh-Benjamin, a visiting teaching professor in the department of psychological sciences and lecturer in the department of German and Russian Studies.

"I am very proud to be a part of this great university, and I am very proud of my students," Naveh-Benjamin said.

Since 2002, Naveh-Benjamin has taught cross-cultural psychology and Israeli culture courses at MU. 

"Etti is very enthusiastic about the material she is teaching, and her enthusiasm makes students want to learn," said Alan Strathman, director of undergraduate studies in the department of psychological sciences, in a news release.

Naveh-Benjamin earned her bachelor's and master's degrees from Eastern Michigan University.

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