In place of class, civil engineering students snacked on doughnuts and juice Monday morning in the corridors of Lafferre Hall to celebrate their teacher’s excellence.
“I’m speechless,” said Hani Salim, an assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering who was surprised in his first class of the day with a William T. Kemper Fellowships for Excellence. “This is such an honor.”
During his 8 a.m. class on structural analysis of civil engineering, Chancellor Brady Deaton and Jim Schatz of Commerce Bank, the award’s trustee, presented Salim with the award. It includes $10,000, which may be used as Salim wishes. He is the fourth of 10 MU professors to receive the award for 2005.
“What a surprise. I wish I’d shaved,” Salim said upon receiving the award. “Thanks for all who nominated me, and thanks to the students for their patience with me. I almost gave them a quiz — I’m glad I didn’t.”
With refreshments waiting in the hall, Salim kept his students five more minutes to wrap up what was supposed to be a 50-minute class before 8:15 a.m.
Having taught six years at MU, Salim also serves as the administrator of the College of Engineering Honors Program, academic adviser, and instructor of review sessions for the Fundamentals of Engineering licensing examination.
“He’s a fantastic teacher,” said Sam Kiger, chairman of the department. “There’s always a constant line in front of his office —he’s so good to the students.”
Kiger, who was at the presentation, said Salim works with 20 undergraduate researchers in the department.
“He’s a very dedicated professor and always wants to help us learn,” said Alison Newell, one of Salim’s students. “A lot of teachers don’t really care, and students aren’t really as important, but they’re definitely important to him.”
After a six-hour drive to Columbia from a conference, Dorina Mitrea’s husband surprised her while she was getting surprised: On Monday afternoon, Mitrea was presented the fifth of 10 William T. Kemper Fellowships for Teaching Excellence for 2005.
“I’m definitely surprised,” said Dorina Mitrea, an associate professor of mathematics. “I’m overwhelmed and humbled. It’s a pleasure to teach and be recognized for something I do and do every day. I want to thank all my students, because it’s because of them that this can happen.”
As he did hours earlier for Hani Salim, an assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, Chancellor Brady Deaton interrupted Mitrea’s noon class to give her the award.
Students gasped when Deaton announced that the fellowship also comes with a $10,000 gift.
“I was overjoyed on her behalf,” said Marius Mitrea, Dorina’s husband and a professor of mathematics. “I’m sure she’ll live up to the expectations that go along with this.”
Dorina Mitrea is involved in several research projects and has co-authored two books.
In 2003, she coached the Missouri MathCounts team, which placed second in national competition and was honored by President Bush.
“The thing that strikes me about Dorina is that she can teach just across the spectrum,” said Richard Schwartz, dean of the College of Arts and Science. “She can mentor young people and get them interested in math, and, at the same time, she can teach graduate and undergraduate students.”
Kemper winners are acknowledged for outstanding teaching.
They are nominated by faculty colleagues, departments, schools or colleges or recognized campus organizations.
The fellowship’s review committee evaluates the nominees’ past five years of teaching records, letters of support, personal teaching philosophy, courses and other relevant documents.