Celebrating Faculty for Excellence in Teaching and Research

Kansas City mayor joined in night of recognition
KCMO mayor Quinton Lucas addresses the faculty at the awards ceremony

Kansas City, Missouri Mayor Quinton Lucas’ speech synopsis: Great UMKC faculty make Kansas City great.

UMKC Provost Barbara Bichelmeyer and UMKC Chancellor Mauli Agrawal led the celebration.

“Our faculty work day in and day out creating a culture of care for our students, teaching and guiding them toward academic excellence,” Bichelmeyer said. “At the same time, faculty are publishing breakthrough research and award-winning creative works, and striving to achieve promotion and tenure. Most importantly, faculty challenge our students every day to maximize their full potential and reach their goals. UMKC faculty are a key reason why UMKC is the university it is today.”

Among the evening’s honorees:

Curators' and Governor's Awards

New Curators’ Distinguished Professors in 2019

A curators’ distinguished professorship is the highest and most prestigious academic rank awarded by the Board of Curators of the University of Missouri.

  • Virginia Blanton, College of Arts and Sciences, Curators’ Distinguished Professor of English Language and Literature
  • Kun Cheng, School of Pharmacy, Curators’ Distinguished Professor of Pharmacy
  • Jane Greer, College of Arts and Sciences, Curators’ Distinguished Professor of English Language and Literature
  • Jeffery Hornsby, Henry W. Bloch School of Management, Curators’ Distinguished Professor of Global Entrepreneurship
  • Joe Parisi, Conservatory, Curators’ Distinguished Professor of Conducting/Music Education
New Curators’ Distinguished Professors Emeriti in 2019

A curators’ distinguished professorship is the highest and most prestigious academic rank awarded by the Board of Curators of the University of Missouri.

  • Joan FitzPatrick Dean, College of Arts and Sciences, Curators’ Distinguished Teaching Professor of English Emerita
  • Dennis Merrill, College of Arts and Sciences, Curators’ Distinguished Teaching Professor of History Emeritus
  • Wai-Yim Ching, College of Arts and Sciences, Curators’ Distinguished Professor of Physics Emeritus
  • Max J. Skidmore, College of Arts and Sciences, Curators’ Distinguished Professor of Political Science Emeritus
  • Felicia H. Londre, Conservatory, Curators’ Distinguished Professor of Theatre Emerita
  • Jerry R. Dias, School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, Curators’ Distinguished Professor of Chemistry Emeritus
Governor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching

The Governor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching is presented to an outstanding faculty member from each participating higher education institution in the state based on evidence of effective teaching, effective advising, a commitment to high standards of excellence and success in nurturing student achievement.

  • Kym Bennett, College of Arts and Sciences, associate professor, psychology

faculty hugging

Service and Engagement Awards

Chancellor’s Award for Career Contributions to the University

One of the highest honors for a UMKC empoloyee (faculty or staff) who has made significant contributions to higher education at UMKC over the course of his or her career and has significantly enhanced the mission of the university.

  • Max Skidmore, College of Arts and Sciences, professor, political science
Chancellor’s Award for Embracing Diversity

This award recognizes and celebrates UMKC faculty, staff and registered student organizations that embrace diversity by celebrating diversity in all aspects of university life, creating inclusive environments, culturally competent citizens and globally-oriented curricula and programs.

  • Sandy Rodriguez, University Libraries, assistant dean of special collections and archives
  • Omiunota Ukpokodu, School of Education, professor, teacher education and curriculum studies 
Chancellor’s Award for Community Engagement

This award recognizes and celebrates faculty, staff, units and campus organizations that have made engagement with the community a central aspect of their approach to student learning and scholarship.

  • Department of History, College of Arts and Sciences 

two faculty holding medals they received at the event

UM System Awards

Presidential Engagement Fellows

Named by the UM System president, the fellows are tasked with fulfilling the university’s land-grant mission by sharing research discoveries with Missouri citizens in every county. They were selected for their excellent teaching, breakthrough research and creative achievements.

  • Jannette Berkley-Patton, School of Medicine, professor, biomedical and health informatics
  • Barbara Pahud, School of Medicine, assistant professor, pediatric medicine
  • Gerald Wyckoff, School of Pharmacy, professor, pharmacology and pharmaceutical sciences 

Provost Barbara Bichelmeyer shaking hands with Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas

Teaching Awards

Chancellor’s Early Career Award for Excellence in Teaching

This award recognizes and celebrates UMKC assistant professors who have achieved excellence in teaching early in their professional careers.

  • Rebecca Best, College of Arts and Sciences, assistant professor, political science
Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching

The university’s highest honor for excellence in teaching recognizes and celebrates UMKC faculty who are consistently superior teachers at the graduate, undergraduate or professional level over an extended period of time.

  • Michael Wei, School of Education, associate professor, teacher education and curriculum studies
Provost’s Award for Excellence in Teaching

This award recognizes and celebrates teaching excellence among UMKC clinical and teaching faculty

  • James Benevides, School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, teaching professor in cell biology and biophysics
Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Graduate Mentoring

This award recognizes UMKC graduate faculty advisors with a long-established career at the university who have made significant contributions to higher education through exceptional mentoring.

  • Loyce Caruthers, School of Education, professor, educational leadership, policy and foundations
Elmore F. Pierson Good Teaching Awards

Awarded annually to outstanding teachers in the Henry W. Bloch School of Management, and the Schools of Dentistry, Law and Medicine.

  • Roozmehr Safi, Henry W. Bloch School of Management, assistant professor, management
  • Michaelle Tobin, School of Law, associate clinical professor
  • Amgad Gerges Masoud, School of Medicine, associate professor, internal medicine
  • Tanya Villalpando Mitchell, School of Dentistry, professor, dental hygiene
Award for Excellence in Mentoring Undergraduate Researchers, Scholars and Artists
  • Fenpeng Sun, College of Arts and Sciences, assistant professor, earth and environmental sciences

faculty mingling before the event

Research and Creativity Awards 

N.T. Veatch Award for Distinguished Research and Creative Activity

Recognizes distinguished research and other scholarly or creative activity accomplished by UMKC faculty.

  • Kun Cheng, School of Pharmacy, Curators’ Distinguished Professor, pharmacology and pharmaceutical sciences
Trustees’ Faculty Fellows Award

Trustees are recognizing the very best faculty who distinguished themselves through scholarship and creativity.

  • Jeffrey Price, School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, professor, biology and biophysics
Trustees’ Faculty Scholar Award

Recognizes faculty members who show exceptional promise for outstanding future research and/or creative accomplishments.

  • Benjamin Woodson, College of Arts and Sciences, associate professor, political science

faculty hugging at event

Promotion and Tenure

  • Eduardo Abreu, School of Nursing and Health Studies, tenure with promotion to associate professor
  • Carolyn Barber, School of Education, promotion to professor
  • Jannette Berkley-Patton, School of Medicine, promotion to professor
  • An-Lin Cheng, School of Medicine, promotion to professor
  • Masud Chowdhury, School of Computing and Engineering, promotion to professor
  • Reza Derakhshani, School of Computing and Engineering, promotion to professor
  • Travis Fields, School of Computing and Engineering, tenure with promotion to associate professor
  • Scott Fullwiler, College of Arts and Sciences, tenure with promotion to associate professor
  • Orisa Igwe, School of Pharmacy, promotion to professor
  • Jeff Johnson, Henry W. Bloch School of Management, tenure with promotion to associate professor
  • John Kevern, School of Computing and Engineering, promotion to professor
  • Sungyop Kim, College of Arts and Sciences, promotion to professor
  • JeJung Lee, College of Arts and Sciences, promotion to professor
  • Debra Leiter, College of Arts and Sciences, tenure with promotion to associate professor
  • Zhu Li, School of Computing and Engineering, tenure
  • Jennifer Owens, College of Arts and Sciences, tenure with promotion to associate professor
  • Tammie Schaefer, Henry W. Bloch School of Management, tenure with promotion to associate professor
  • Zach Shemon, Conservatory, tenure with promotion to associate professor
  • Hye Young Shin, College of Arts and Sciences, tenure with promotion to associate professor
  • Michelle Smirnova, College of Arts and Sciences, tenure with promotion to associate professor
  • Kim Smolderen, School of Medicine, tenure with promotion to associate professor
  • Massimiliano Vitiello, College of Arts and Sciences, promotion to professor
  • Ben Woodson, College of Arts and Sciences, tenure with promotion to associate professor
Promotion, Non-Tenure Track
  • John Ball, School of Dentistry, promotion to clinical professor
  • Kylie Barnes, School of Pharmacy, promotion to clinical associate professor
  • James Benevides, School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, promotion to teaching professor
  • Scott Curtis, UMKC Libraries, promotion to librarian IV
  • Kenneth Frick, School of Dentistry, promotion to clinical professor
  • Monica Gaddis, School of Medicine, promotion to associate teaching professor
  • Melanie Guthrie, School of Medicine, promotion to associate teaching professor
  • Tamas Kapros, School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, promotion to teaching professor
  • Floyd Likins, School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, promotion to assistant teaching professor
  • Angellar Manguvo, School of Medicine, promotion to associate teaching professor
  • Steven Melling, College of Arts and Sciences, promotion to associate teaching professor
  • Dhananjay Pal, School of Pharmacy, promotion to research professor
  • Natalia Rivera, Conservatory, promotion to associate teaching professor
  • Amanda Stahnke, School of Pharmacy, promotion to clinical associate professor
  • Yesim Tunkuc, School of Dentistry, promotion to clinical professor
  • Henrietta Rix Wood, Honors College, promotion to teaching professor

photo of faculty leaving the event with the Changing the World Starts Here mission statement poster in the background


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