The William T. Kemper Fellowships for Teaching Excellence were established by the William T. Kemper Foundation in 1991 with a $500,000 gift to honor outstanding teachers at the University of Missouri.
Every spring, the MU chancellor and executives from Commerce Bank, the trustee for the Kemper Foundation, interrupt the classes of new Kemper Fellows and surprise each of them with $10,000 to spend as they wish.
Kemper Fellows have commented on how the awards enhance faculty morale, reward the important role of teaching in higher education, and demonstrate the beneficial relationship between private gifts and the University.
Kemper, a 1926 MU graduate, was a well-known civic leader in Kansas City. His 52-year career in banking included top positions in Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma. The William T. Kemper Foundation, established in 1989 after his death, is dedicated to continuing Kemper’s lifelong interest in improving the human condition and quality of life through education, health and human services, civic improvements and the arts.