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Professors Win Kemper Fellows

Saturday, August 23, 2008

[Professor Hossein Saiedian learns he is a 2008 Kemper Fellow during his class on the Edwards Campus.]

Two University of Kansas School of Engineering professors were singled out and rewarded for their teaching excellence during the first week of the fall semester.

Hossein Saiedian, professor and associate chair of electrical engineering and computer science, and Michael Detamore, assistant professor of chemical and petroleum engineering, were named Kemper Fellows. Each professor received word of the honor in front of their students during the opening minutes of their first class of the semester. A KU “surprise patrol” with representatives from the KU administration, Commerce Bank, KU Endowment and the School of Engineering, walked unannounced into each class to bestow the honor and deliver a $5,000 award to the professors.

The Kemper fellowships recognize outstanding teachers and advisers at KU as determined by a seven-member selection committee. Faculty must be nominated for the honor.

The faculty appreciated the recognition.

“It’s been a great pleasure, great pleasure to be at KU,” Saiedian said. “KU has a very high standard for teaching, for research. It’s been a pleasure to be a part of that. And of course with respect to the award I owe it to my students. If it wasn’t because of my students, obviously, I wouldn’t be receiving this award, so thank you to all of you.”

[Assistant Professor Michael Detamore, left, learns from KU Provost Richard Lariviere, that he is one of the 2008 Kemper Fellows.]

Now in its 13th year, the award program is supported by $650,000 in gifts from the William T. Kemper Foundation (Commerce Bank, trustee) and $650,000 in matching funds from KU Endowment. In all, 20 professors will be honored and $100,000 distributed this year as part of the Kemper tradition.

After the pleasant interruption, Detamore quipped, “I suppose I have some high expectations to live up to.”

Selection committee members and nominators had this to say about the new Fellows:

Michael Detamore, assistant professor of chemical and petroleum engineering

Michael Detamore describes himself as “always … a teacher at heart.” He traces the beginnings of his academic career to tutoring of elementary school friends as well as to his mother and grandmother, both teachers. His love for teaching is reflected in his students’ appreciation for him: “If there was a ‘University of Detamore,’ I would definitely enroll. Other professors should observe Dr. Detamore’s teaching methods as a model of how to improve their own.” Detamore was instrumental in developing KU’s new graduate degree program in bioengineering. Laurence Weatherley, professor and chair of chemical and petroleum engineering, said, “I am amazed at Michael’s rapid development, consistent improvement and visible productivity.”

Hossein Saiedian, professor and associate chair of electrical engineering and computer science

Even a casual user of computer technology knows how quickly the field changes – and Hossein Saiedian is no casual user. “His courses are cutting edge, which is needed in the fast-paced science of software engineering and management,” said Costas Tsatsoulis, professor and former chair of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. In 2004, Saiedian led the development of a new master’s degree in information technology. “He clearly spends a lot of time refining his classes, and making them continuously relevant to a changing information technology landscape,” Tsatsoulis said.

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