University of Missouri Provost Latha Ramchand and Dean Carolyn Henry on Monday surprised Chris Baines, associate professor of biomedical sciences in the College of Veterinary Medicine.
“I wish I’d worn a different T-shirt,” Baines said. He wore a T-shirt promoting Black Tusk, a heavy metal band based in Atlanta.
Ramchand told Baines he was the year’s first recipient of a Kemper Fellowship for Teaching Excellence. It’s the university’s biggest cash prize, awarded for outstanding teaching. It was the first of five surprise announcements to be made this week.
The dozens of students in the auditorium-style classroom burst into applause when Baines’ award was announced.
Student testimonials described how approachable Baines is as a professor, Ramchand said.
Baines joined the faculty in 2008, teaching undergraduate, graduate and professional students. He earned nationally recognized teaching awards in 2014 and 2019. Last year, teaching online amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Baines earned the Harrison-Kaplan Online Undergraduate Teaching Award and the Harrison-Kaplan Online Graduate Teaching Award.
Baines is co-director of the Veterinary Research Scholars Program, a summer program that exposes veterinary students to possible research careers. The program features an annual national symposium where students present their research to students and faculty around the country.
He used his own money to establish the Baines Fund for Wellness, Mental Health and Inclusivity Work in the veterinary college.
Henry referred to that level of commitment in a news release that accompanied the announcement.
“Dr. Baines is one of the most passionate and committed instructors with whom I have ever had the pleasure of working,” Henry wrote.
“We cannot thank you enough for what you do,” Ramchand told Baines.
The William T. Kemper Fellowships for Teaching Excellence were established in 1991 with a $500,000 donation from Kemper, a 1926 MU grad and well-known civic leader in Kansas City until his death in 1989.
Commerce Bank manages the trust fund. Steve Sauers, president and CEO of Commerce Bank’s central region, presented Baines the check for $15,000.
More applause came from students.
Baines was caught completely by surprise and was speechless.
“I got nothing,” he said initially.
“Thank you so much,” Baines said, following up.
Speaking quietly, Baines said teaching was very important to him and the pandemic has made it a rough couple years for students.
Roger McKinney is the education reporter for the Tribune. You can reach him at [email protected] or 573-815-1719. He’s on Twitter at @rmckinney9.
This article originally appeared on Columbia Daily Tribune: Chris Baines honored with Kemper award for teaching excellence