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University of Missouri System honors professors with President’s Awards


Stephanie Fleming

17 faculty members were recognized for their contributions to their universities and fields of study

Columbia, Mo.— University of Missouri President Mun Choi today honored 17 faculty members from across the UM System. These faculty members from the University of Missouri-Columbia, University of Missouri-Kansas City, Missouri University of Science and Technology and the University of Missouri-St. Louis were recognized for their outstanding contributions to their universities, Missouri and the world.

“It’s my honor to recognize the tremendous talent and contributions of our faculty,” University of Missouri President Mun Choi said. “Every day, these faculty lend their passion and skill to improve the education of our students, the strength of our institutions, and better the lives of people across Missouri and around the globe through their scholarship, research and teaching.” 

President’s Award for Excellence: Early Career, Humanities and Social & Behavioral Sciences

—Brett Johnson, MU

Brett Johnson, professor of journalism, was recognized for his efforts to advance the understanding of the role of journalism in democracy. By crossing disciplinary and methodological boundaries to study the nexus of law and ethics, and to advance the understanding of the First Amendment, Johnson has achieved tremendous success through his research, teaching and service to the School of Journalism, university and community.

President’s Award for Excellence: Early Career, STEM

—Zheng Yan, MU

Zheng Yan, an assistant professor of biomedical, biological and chemical engineering, was recognized for pioneering the research of tailoring porous electronic materials for bio-integrated electronics. He is praised for his ability to balance highly productive research work with effective teaching and mentoring of graduate and undergraduate students.

President’s Award for Excellence: Sustained Career, Humanities and Social & Behavioral Sciences

—Wendy Reinke, MU

Wendy Reinke, associate vice chancellor for research and a professor in the College of Education, was recognized for her 122 journal articles, 14 chapters and 7 books authored to date. She’s been the principal investigator or co-principal investigator on more than $55 million in grant-funded projects, including a federally funded National Research Center on Rural School Mental Health. Reinke’s work as co-director of the Missouri Prevention Science Institute has redefined how educators respond to youth mental health care.

President’s Award for Excellence: Sustained Career, STEM

—Jagannathan Sarangapani, Missouri S&T

Jagannathan Sarangapani, a William A. Rutledge-Emerson Electric Company Distinguished professor in electrical engineering, has been with the university for 19 years. During that time, he’s developed a number of breakthroughs in the world of neural networks that have made an enormous impact on manufacturing, medicine, networking, robotics, bit data analytics, secure cyber systems, autonomous systems, industry, military, aerospace and more. He is regularly recognized for his top performance in teaching, research and service, and is listed among the top 2% of the world’s computer and electronics scientists, according to a Stanford University research study.

President’s Award for Community Engagement

—Ron Kelley, MU

Ron Kelley, associate professional practice professor in the School of Journalism, was recognized for his ability to seamlessly blend his passion for service both in his career and in his community involvement. As executive director of the school’s Student Development, Diversity and Inclusion Program, Kelley partners with industry, academic leaders and alumni to recruit, retain and engage diverse students. Outside of work, Kelley volunteers for a number of community organizations, mentors young students of color, and arranges career exploration events.

President’s Award for Cross-Cultural Engagement

—Andrew Bergerson, UMKC

Andrew Bergerson, professor of history, was recognized as a leader in cross-cultural engagement through innovative education, research and service. Through his research and teaching, which focuses on the Holocaust and Nazi Germany, Bergerson works to engage audiences—on campus, in the community and around the world—as equal partners in the process of making sense of the past in the present.

President’s Award for Economic Development

—Reza Derakshani, UMKC

Reza Derakshani, professor of computer science and electrical engineering, is UMKC’s first faculty member elected as a fellow to the National Academy of Inventors. He’s an internationally renowned entrepreneurial academic in the field of biometric personal identification, privacy and mobile security. His inventions in ocular and mobile biometrics encompass a comprehensive collection of technologies for private, secure and trusted user authentication.

President’s Award for Innovative Teaching

—Wanda Temm, UMKC

Wanda Temm, professor of law, was recognized for her development of a national model bar exam preparatory course for law students. Through her research, Temm determined skills and attitudes drive student achievement, and thus her course does not focus on knowledge-based study for the bar exam. Rather, it focuses on the skills and study techniques necessary to be successful when taking the two-day exam. Since the institution of her course 16 years ago, the bar passage rate for first-time takers at UMKC has risen 31%, from 67% to an average rate of 98%.

President’s Award for Intercampus Collaboration

—Kelli Canada, MU; Beth Huebner, UMSL; Ashley Givens, MU; Janet Garcia-Hallett, UMKC; Clark Peters, MU

Kelli Canada, associate professor in the MU School of Social Work; Beth Huebner, professor in the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology at UMSL; Ashley Givens, assistant professor in the MU School of Social Work; Janet Garcia-Hallet, assistant professor in the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology at UMKC; and Clark Peters, associate professor in the MU School of Social Work comprise the inter-campus research team behind the Prison Research and Innovation Network grant, funded by the Urban Institute. In collaboration with the Missouri Department of Corrections, this research team was one of only five selected nationally to examine the climate of prisons and aims to identify strategies for improvements in living and working conditions using community-based research. Despite the challenges COVID-19 has presented within the prison system, the research team has made substantial progress and has been awarded three additional years of funding to continue this important work.

President’s Award for University Citizenship-Leadership

—VA Samaranayake, Missouri S&T

VA Samaranayake, Curators’ Distinguished Teaching Professor and interim department chair of mathematics and statistics, has committed more than three decades to the university. His leadership has increased postdoctoral production in his department, the quality and preparedness of graduate teaching assistants in mathematics, opportunities for students interested in actuarial and data sciences, improved teaching practices among hundreds of K-12 STEM teachers, and improved processes and approaches to general education mathematics curriculum at Missouri S&T.

President’s Award for University Citizenship-Service

—LaVerne Berkel, UMKC

LaVerne Berkel, associate professor of counseling and counseling psychology, was recognized for regularly stepping in to lead projects and programs that support faculty within the School of Education. She was specifically recognized for the key role she played in overseeing the academic and credentialing process for the School of Education. Berkel helped lead the development of a formal mentoring program and orientation for both full-time and adjunct faculty members. She created the university’s first Faculty Resource Guide and is credited with the development of a new online system for faculty credentialing.

Thomas Jefferson Award

—Glen Cameron, MU

The Thomas Jefferson Award recognizes faculty who rise above excellence and demonstrate clear distinction in teaching, research, writing, creative activities, and service to the UM System and humankind. Glen Cameron, emeritus Gregory Chair of Journalism Research, was recognized by his nominators for his leadership of the Contingency Theory of Public Relations, which is one of the most-used approaches in the field. As one of the most cited researchers in the field of public relations with more than 10,700 citations, Cameron’s transdisciplinary approach tackles public health in minority populations via news delivery and has seeded communications research across the globe. 

Brice Ratchford Memorial Fellowship Award

—David Herzog, MU

The C. Brice Ratchford Memorial Fellowship Award recognizes a University of Missouri System faculty member who demonstrates commitment, dedication and effectiveness in advancing the land-grant mission through extension, international education and agricultural economics programs. David Herzog, professor in the School of Journalism, was recognized by his nominators for his work to advance the reach of the Missouri Method—practical, hands-on training in professional news environments—around the globe. With an instructional focus in investigative and data journalism, Herzog has taught countless MU students, visiting faculty and professional journalists from more than a dozen countries. He has served as adviser to several journalism programs in China, and his efforts have seeded the development of numerous courses in investigative and data journalism in both China and Kazakhstan.

President's Awards are presented annually to the faculty member who most embodies the goals and ideals of the individually endowed awards. The awards are among the most prestigious given by the University of Missouri System to faculty. The Office of Academic Affairs administers the qualification guidelines and presentation of a number of faculty and University of Missouri System Community awards.


Reviewed 2021-06-09