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Faculty and Students Honored at University of Missouri Presidential Awards Ceremony


Christian Basi

June 05, 2008

The University of Missouri honored five UM faculty members and two UM students for excellence in an awards ceremony Thursday evening, June 5, 2008, in the Great Room of the Reynolds Alumni Center, UM-Columbia. The ceremony was hosted by University of Missouri President Gary Forsee and his wife, Sherry.

Curators' Award for Scholarly Excellence

Dr. Wilma King

The Curators' Award for Scholarly Excellence is given annually to the author of the most outstanding book by a faculty member from any one of the four campuses and published by the University of Missouri Press.

Dr. Wilma King, the Arvarh E. Strickland distinguished professor of African-American history at the University of Missouri-Columbia, is being honored for her work, The Essence of Liberty, Free Black Women during the Slave Era, published by The University of Missouri Press in 2006.

The book blends social, political and economic history to analyze the experiences of black women in the North and South from the colonial period through emancipation. King underscores the constraints racism placed on the lives of free blacks and reveals that the essence of freedom is more complex that the absence of shackles.

King joined MU in 1999 from Michigan State University. She has authored numerous books, including two for young readers. She received the Organization of American Historians Distinguished Lecturer award in 2001 and is a member of the American Historical Association and the Association of Black Women Historians.

A review of the book by a fellow author notes, "A marvelous piece of scholarship, richly informed by careful digging in often obscure and far-flung primary sources...This book will immediately become the standard source on its subject."

Presidential Award for Research and Creativity

Dr. Kenneth J. Sher

This award recognizes a faculty member with a sustained record of national and international quality research and creativity.

Dr. Kenneth Sher has established an inspiring international reputation as a premier authority in the area of drug and alcohol abuse research, making contributions that will forever change the way researchers approach the subject. He is unique among clinical psychologists in being equally comfortable with behavior genetic, psychophysiological, neuropsychological and psychosocial methods and models.

Sher was appointed Curators' Professor of Psychological Services at the University of Missouri-Columbia in 2000, was the Middlebush Professor of Psychology from 1997-2000 and received the Chancellor's Award for outstanding faculty research and creativity in the behavioral sciences in 1992. He has published approximately 170 scholarly publications and more than 130 articles in the premier journals in his field.

Sher is the recipient of numerous federal grants, including the prestigious MERIT award, for a total of more than $13 million. His research has been federally funded without interruption since 1983.

One of Sher's colleagues writes about him, "Were he to call it quits today, his contributions to our understanding of addiction would place him among a handful of researchers who have fundamentally shaped what we now believe we know about drug abuse."

Presidential Award for Outstanding Teaching

Dr. Kathleen V. Kilway

This award recognizes a faculty member for long-term contributions to teaching.

Dr. Kathleen Kilway is associate professor and chair of the chemistry department at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Since joining UMKC in 1996, she has made remarkable achievements in educating and guiding both undergraduate and graduate students in her role as teacher and scholar.

Kilway was voted Teacher of the Year from the School of Pharmacy in 2006 and 2007, was honored with the 2002 and 2007 Governor's Award for Teaching Excellence and was chosen in 2000 for the Dean's Outstanding Teaching Award. During her time at UMKC, enrollment in organic chemistry has increased more than 100 percent, chemistry majors have increased 150 percent, and women chemistry majors have increased 100 percent.

Kilway received her doctorate in chemistry from the University of California, San Diego. She is a member of the American Chemical Society and its division of organic chemistry, and is a member of the American Association for Dental Research and the International Association for Dental Research.

Kilway emphasizes that students learn organic chemistry best by doing, so she involves a substantial number of undergraduate students in her own research. This has led several undergraduate researchers to become co-authors on peer-reviewed articles. Writes a colleague, "Clearly, it seems Kathleen Kilway has found a way to extract more than 24 hours from each day. But more seriously, she does devote tremendous efforts to organizing and managing her teaching, research and service responsibilities."

Faculty Entrepreneur of the Year Award

Dr. Edward E. Brent, Jr.

This award honors a faculty member for a record of entrepreneurial innovation that demonstrates commercial utility, contributes to the public welfare, and brings visibility to the University of Missouri.

Dr. Edward Brent is a professor in the sociology department and an adjunct professor in the computer science department at the University of Missouri-Columbia. He earned his doctoral degree in sociology from the University of Minnesota at Minneapolis.

Brent founded Idea Works, Inc., in 1981 as a way to expand the impact of his research in social science computing. Idea Works is a software company specializing in intelligent programs for research and teaching, including a series of programs to help researchers write research proposals and conduct research, multimedia programs for teaching sociology, and a qualitative analysis program to help researchers code and analyze unstructured data. His latest product is a computerized Web service to automatically grade student essays.

The company has supported more than 35 different employees and has an annual payroll of approximately $200,000. Idea Works currently has seven full- and part-time employees, including four MU students.

A colleague says of Brent, "All of this attests to the herculean nature of Dr. Brent's success as an entrepreneur, consultant, businessman, scholar and colleague. He brings a unique talent to the University of Missouri system as a social scientist who couples his theoretical and methodological craft with artificial intelligences to create computer-based products that are both successful and useful in the facilitation of social science research and teaching."

Student Entrepreneur of the Year Awards

Paul Robinette & Ryanne Dolan

This award honors University of Missouri students who have shown entrepreneurial potential.

Mr. Paul Robinette and Mr. Ryanne Dolan are co-founders of Engineered Solutions, LLC, a business that develops custom solutions to meet the needs of small-to-medium sized businesses in mid-Missouri. Their first project involved creating a system to gather information from teachers, store it in a simple database and output it to a spreadsheet. They've also developed Web programs to allow clients to easily update their Web sites, business and resource management systems, and a system that will record notes from a whiteboard or chalkboard without the use of special markers or boards.

Robinette received his master's degree in computer engineering and bachelor's degrees in computer engineering and physics from Missouri University of Science and Technology. He has worked as an undergraduate research fellow, software engineering intern at Garmin International, and a software engineer for the U.S. Geological Survey and Stoecker and Associates in Rolla, Mo.

Dolan is currently a doctoral student in computer science at the University of Missouri-Columbia and received his bachelor's degrees in computer science and computer engineering from Missouri S&T. He is an instructor in the MU computer science department and has worked as a software engineer for MiTek Industries and the U.S. Geological Survey.

Says an engineer at Aerojet who worked with Robinette and Dolan, "It is my opinion that the business that Ryanne and Paul have formed has the potential to grow and expand across many universities and that the sky is really the only limit for their business model."

C. Brice Ratchford Memorial Fellowship Award

Dr. George J. McCall

This award recognizes a faculty member who personifies the creativity, vision and leadership exhibited by the late Dr. C. Brice Ratchford, president emeritus of the University of Missouri and dean of cooperative extension.

Dr. George McCall is emeritus professor and former chair of the Department of Sociology at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. He joined the university in 1972 and retired in 2002.

Following President Ratchford's leadership efforts in devising the innovative exchange program with the University of the Western Cape, McCall was the University of Missouri's second faculty member to visit South Africa, then very much still a police state, in January 1989. On that occasion, after visiting numerous local programs around the country, he taught a course on community conflict intervention to UWC faculty.

McCall received his doctorate and master's degrees from Harvard University and his bachelor's degree from the University of Iowa. In addition to the University of Missouri, he has held teaching positions at the University of Illinois at Chicago Circle and Urbana-Champaign and the University of Iowa. He also is the author of numerous books, monographs, articles and chapters.

UM Executive Vice President Emeritus Ron Turner writes of McCall, "I am confident that Brice Ratchford would prize the work carried out by Dr. McCall during the past two decades. George McCall has always stepped forward in response to requests for assistance and collaboration from colleagues in South Africa, and his contributions there have been substantial."