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University of Missouri System faculty, students receive President’s Awards

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University of Missouri System faculty, students receive President’s Awards

Awards honor excellence among university’s mission areas of teaching, research, service and economic development

Thirteen faculty and students at the University of Missouri’s four campuses have received President’s Awards, the highest honor bestowed by the University of Missouri System, for excellence among the university’s four mission areas of teaching, research, service and economic development.

“The faculty and students honored with a President’s Award represent some of the finest, most dedicated educators and students we have on our four campuses,” said University of Missouri Interim President Steve Owens. “Their passion and commitment to excellence have made a profound impact not only on our university but on all who have the pleasure of knowing and working with them.”

The awards, which were expanded this year to account for the myriad opportunities for excellence among faculty and students, were presented to winners the first two weeks of March. Recipients will be honored at an awards dinner in June with the University of Missouri Board of Curators.

The awards and the recipients include:

Leadership Award: Gary Ebersole, UMKC

The Leadership Award is presented to a faculty member with a commitment to excellence and integrity; an ability to motivate, build and sustain a high level of morale and productivity among faculty or staff; find practical solutions to complex problems; and effectively build teams, manage projects and produce positive results.

Ebersole is professor and chair of the history department at UMKC and director of the Religious Studies program, an interdisciplinary doctoral degree program. Since 2006, he has been chair of the University of Missouri-Kansas City Faculty Senate where he has been a major force in fostering effective faculty governance.

Community Engagement Award: Mary Kay Kisthardt, UMKC

The Community Engagement Award is presented to a faculty member with a highly engaged, sustained service to community; contributions that encourage the academic, cultural, economic, spiritual or social development of members of community; and engagement with students and other groups through volunteerism or academic programs to improve community.

Kisthardt is the Tiera M. Farrow Faculty Scholar and Professor of Law at the UMKC School of Law.  She is also the faculty co-director of the Child and Family Services Clinic at the law school. She has a record of sustained leadership with public and community organizations to address critical community concerns, particularly those that impact children. She was an early pioneer in encouraging the use of mediation to resolve disputes and has incorporated service learning components in her classes.

Mentoring Award: Thomas Dougherty, MU

The Mentoring Award is presented to a faculty member who displays exemplary mentoring of other faculty.

Dougherty is the Hibbs/Brown Chair of Business and Economics and professor of management in the Trulaske College of Business at the University of Missouri-Columbia. He has contributed numerous research articles and book chapters on mentoring, served on several campus committees related to enhancing teaching and faculty development; and served as a mentor himself to assistant professors in the Trulaske College.

Economic Development Award: Kattesh V. Katti, MU

The Economic Development Award is presented to a faculty member with demonstrated success in directly contributing to the economic development of the state.

Katti, curators’ professor of radiology and physics at the University of Missouri-Columbia, is the principal inventor of 25 patents and 30 invention disclosures, and has obtained $15 million in external funding and gifts as part of his work in the fields of chemistry, physics, radiopharmaceuticals, materials science, green nanotechnology and nanomedicine. He received the Outstanding Missourian Award by the Missouri House of Representatives in 2008 for his exceptional achievements in the fields of science, technology and education, including his work in developing gold nanoparticles through green nanotechnology that can detect prostate, breast and other forms of cancer.

Sustained Excellence Award: Nelson Cowan, MU

The Sustained Excellence Award is given to a faculty member who demonstrates and sustains a record of distinguished scholarship, research or creativity for15 or more years.

Cowan, a curators professor in psychological sciences at the University of Missouri-Columbia, has a prolific record of accomplishment in cognitive psychology, specifically regarding short-term working memory and attention. He has published more than 155 refereed articles and 46 book chapters, two sole-authored books and two edited volumes.  Cowan serves as director and co-creator of the Brain Imaging Center at MU and has received the Chancellor’s Award for Outstanding Faculty Research.  He began his work at MU in 1985 as an assistant professor and was named Middlebush Professor of the Social Sciences in 1995.


Early Career Award: Jay Thelen, MU

The Early Career Award is presented to a faculty member who has exceptional promise in scholarship, research or creativity as substantiated by significant accomplishments within the first seven years of employment with the university.

Thelen, an associate professor in biochemistry at the University of Missouri-Columbia since 2004, has made outstanding contributions toward understanding mechanisms regulating plant metabolism. He has established himself as one of the nation’s premier young plant biochemists with frequent speaking invitations, an excellent publication record and outstanding grant success.

Inter-Campus Collaboration Award: B. Sonny Bal, MU and Mohamed Rahaman, Missouri S&T

The Inter-Campus Collaboration Award is presented to faculty members who promote successful collaboration across two or more campuses.

Bal is associate professor of orthopaedic surgery at the University of Missouri-Columbia, and Rahaman is professor of materials science and engineering and director of the Center for Bone and Tissue Repair and Regeneration at Missouri University of Science and Technology. Their collaborative research during the past eight years has explored bioactive glass applications in skeletal repair and tissue-engineering of cartilage. Their work has led to more than 30 peer-reviewed journal articles, five grant-funded projects, two patent applications, five patent disclosures, several chapters in professional textbooks, and the education and training of many post-doctoral students.

Innovative Teaching Award: Klaus Woelk, Missouri S&T

The Innovative Teaching Award recognizes an outstanding teacher who uses innovative teaching methods, including electronic resources, social media or experiential activities.

Woelk, associate professor and assistant department chair of chemistry at Missouri University of Science and Technology, has redesigned intro-level chemistry courses to include discussion boards, student response devices, online testing and homework, and the ability to communicate with the instructor through text messaging during class. He is currently involved in Gov. Jay Nixon’s initiative to collaborate with the National Center for Academic Transformation to further redesign and optimize the efficacy of general chemistry teaching at Missouri S&T, which will become the model course for all Missouri higher education institutions.

Cross-Cultural Engagement Award: Rick Stephenson, Missouri S&T

This award is presented to a faculty member with demonstrated success in promoting cross-cultural activities or understanding through classroom or student service activities.

Stephenson, a professor of civil engineering and assistant chair for graduate affairs at Missouri University of Science and Technology, has improved the Missouri S&T campus and its students’ experiences through his work with Engineers Without Borders. This program has changed the views and perspectives of both students and faculty and impacted the lives of hundreds of people internationally.

Service Award: Timothy Farmer, UMSL

The Service Award recognizes outstanding contributions in professional expertise and personal service in promoting the mission and values of the university.

Farmer, an associate professor in accounting at the University of Missouri-St. Louis since 1987, has served on almost every committee of the Accounting Department and the college. He has been a consistent contributor to the Faculty Senate and University Assembly with two terms as chair. He also has served on committees for the Graduate Council and many other task forces and ad hoc committees. He currently serves as director of general education.

Thomas Jefferson Award: Marvin W. Berkowitz, UMSL

The Thomas Jefferson Award honors a member of the university community who best exemplifies the principles and ideals of Thomas Jefferson and who rises above excellence and demonstrates clear distinction in service to the university and humankind.

Berkowitz, an endowed professor in character education at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, is one of the top-ranked scholars in the field of moral and character development. He emphasizes a pedagogy of empowerment similar to what Jefferson endorsed, which holds that our democratic society can only endure if we socialize every new generation to have moral and civic character.

Student Entrepreneur Award: Meghan Orbe, MU

This award honors students at one of the University of Missouri’s four campuses who have shown entrepreneurial talent.

Orbe, a senior at the University of Missouri-Columbia majoring in marketing, won MU’s New Venture Idea Competition with the idea for Meals by Orbe and Meyer, which focused on providing frozen, yet homemade, meals for college students who don’t have time or the knowledge to cook for themselves. She competed nationally with this same idea at the Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization and finished fourth. She currently serves as president of the Flegel Academy for Aspiring Entrepreneurs and is vice president of growth and networking for the MU Entrepreneurs organization.

Reviewed 2011-04-29