Four Faculty Members Recognized with the William T. Kemper Award for Excellence in Teaching
May 23, 2022
One of Webster University's traditions prior to the annual commencement is to recognize faculty members with Webster's most prestigious faculty award, the William T. Kemper Award for Excellence in Teaching.
Kemper Award for Excellence in Teaching
The Kemper Award is awarded each year to two full-time and two part-time faculty members at Webster University who demonstrate teaching at its finest. Nominated and supported by students and colleagues, they are selected by a committee of their peers for their outstanding teaching. The award is funded by the William T. Kemper Foundation. This year’s recipients are Stuart Chapman Hill, Kristen Anderson Morton, Mary Baken, and Malcolm Glover.
Stuart Chapman Hill, associate professor of music, makes it his mission to prepare future teachers of music to be responsible stewards of tradition while pursuing innovative pedagogies that prioritize student access, equity and growth. He does this through providing students with a rigorously thought-out and predictable classroom experience that supports inquiry and deep reflection. As one student observed, “By being well-prepared as well as flexible when our lives complicate our schoolwork, Dr. Hill creates a classroom environment where students feel supported and equipped to dig into the day’s topics and to contribute our thoughts to the discussion.”
On the subject of Hill’s impact, one graduate captured the sentiments of many who have gone on to successful careers: “I cannot emphasize how much of his daily lesson planning and curricular design has influenced my own practice as a music teacher.” Other graduates refer to him as, “my biggest teaching role model,” and, “someone who I still lean on for teaching advice and guidance.”
“As good musical improvisers will attest,” Hill observes, “the freedom of uncertainty depends on the rigors of preparation. Accordingly, my courses tend to be highly structured, which I find affords a sense of security for all involved, but also flexible. By yielding some control and embracing pedagogies of uncertainty, I aim for a classroom in which I am the leader—but teaching and learning are everyone’s job.”
Kristen Anderson Morton is firm in her belief that students learn history more deeply if they have a sense of how its lessons can shed light on the present. Bringing in discussion of the recent financial crisis while examining the economic turmoil of the Gilded Age, or the Black Lives Matter movement when discussing race and law in late 19th century America, these connections help history come alive and foster students’ ability to place events in their historical context.
One student shares that, “As a student of Dr. Anderson, I have grown in my understanding of history and how it impacts the modern day.”
Anderson Morton devotes herself to helping students make these connections; it begins on a very human level, incorporating primary source material from “ordinary” people whenever possible. Students appreciate that she challenges them “to understand not just the general events of history but also the sentiments of the people, what they hated, what they feared, and what they loved.”
Colleagues note how she has introduced popular and imaginative courses that encourage students to think critically, such as The American West: Film, Fiction, and Reality – contrasting fictional depictions of the American West with the more complex reality. “Professor Anderson Morton’s integration of these varied sources – assigned reading, lecture content, primary source material – demonstrate how seamlessly she blends these elements into a stimulating tapestry for her students.”
Mary Baken is a longtime adjunct professor in the Department of English, where she devotes her energies to the composition program, and teaching courses in creative writing. “I teach writing because I love to read what students have to say,” Baken shares when speaking about her philosophy of teaching, “I love that magical moment when students are surprised by their own insight and vision, by their own brilliance and wisdom.”
“It was by chance that I signed up for Professor Baken’s creative writing course in the Summer 2021,” volunteered one student, “for me, it was an awakening. Her dedication to teaching helped reignite my passion for writing and academia.” During the pandemic, relying on Zoom for a sense of community, students were buoyed by her enthusiasm. “She uplifts and inspires. The art and artists that she introduced me to have greatly impacted my work and opened my mind to future careers.”
Baken works to reemphasize writing as a means to discovery and connection. “Classes were a highpoint,” one student wrote, “homework assignments would blossom into days of excited voluntary exploration. Students opened up to each other and with her support began a creative writing club that has helped many feel at home at Webster.”
Malcolm Glover bases his philosophy of teaching on an Aristotelian principle and an African proverb. He also brings the stellar qualifications of a successful career to his students in Public Administration at Webster’s Little Rock campus and online. Glover remains mindful of Aristotle’s precept that “human beings learn by doing” as he facilitates a learning environment where “students engage in meaningful conversations to better understand the interconnected nature of human decision making, organizational policymaking, historical precedents, and lived experience.”
Ubuntu, as Glover describes it, is an African term for “humanity,” or “human kindness” that is often translated as, “I am because you are” and it informs Glovers’ approach to student engagement through mutual respect.
Letters of nomination offered multiple comments on the caliber and tone of class discussions. One alumnus remarked, “In class discussions, Dr. Glover always offered counterpoints and challenged each student to understand others’ perspectives. Dr. Glover was amazing at facilitating tough discussions.” Another student commented on how Glover’s compassion and ability to listen to each student with patience and openness. “The confidence he has in his students is contagious.”
Colleagues describe him as “a generous and tenacious man whose ethics and commitment to others never wanes.” His attention to the product of his students’ work is emblematic of his philosophical underpinnings, “It was obvious to me,” wrote on alum, “that Dr. Glover’s interest in reviewing assignments was not to simply provide a grade but to encourage personal and professional growth as well.”