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Electrical engineering professor awarded 2010 Kemper Fellowship for Teaching

Professor Gregory Triplett, far left, wears a big smile during a classroom visit from University of Missouri Chancellor Brady Deaton informing him that he is one of five MU faculty members to receive a Kemper Fellowship for Teaching Excellence. Joining Deaton, second from left, are Commerce Bank Chairman Jim Schantz, Deputy Chancellor and Law Professor Mike Middleton, Dean of Engineering Jim Thompson and Triplett's wife, Deborah Noble-Triplett, an Assistant Vice President of Academic Affairs in the UM-System.

University of Missouri Chancellor Brady Deaton and Commerce Bank Chairman Jim Schatz this week awarded one of the 2010 William T. Kemper Fellowships for Teaching Excellence to Gregory Triplett, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering in the MU College of Engineering.

Deaton, Schatz and a group of professors, administrators and staff paid a surprise visit to Triplett’s classroom to honor him with the Fellowship, which includes a $10,000 award. Fellowships are awarded to five outstanding teachers at the University of Missouri each year.

Triplett, who has been teaching in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering since 2004, teaches some of the most difficult courses in the undergraduate and graduate engineering program including Optical Electronics and Semiconductor Device Theory.

“Just to be nominated would have been enough for me. I have so many people to thank: those who thought I was worthy and wrote letters of support, my colleagues, my students,” said Triplett. “The Kemper Award confers honor on people who have really strived to be better teachers – not the best; you’re never the best because you’re always making efforts to improve.”

“Triplett is an outstanding instructor who approaches his task in a very conscientious way with an intense desire to improve student learning,” said Noah Manring, chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. “He is one of the brightest spots in our department when it comes to student interaction and personal attention to the matters of life that really matter.”

Triplett is concerned with the decrease in total student enrollment in electrical and computer engineering.  Due to his efforts, he received a National Science Foundation grant to help increase retention for students in the field. He also acts as the adviser for the National Society of Black Engineers and is involved with the College of Engineering’s effort to recruit minority students.

“Our department has no formal faculty-student advising program; yet Gregory regularly meets with students at all levels in our program to advise and counsel them on their studies,” said Scott Kovaleski, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering. “He does so without expectation or receipt of recognition from the department, but merely because he feels it is in the best interests of the students.”

Triplett strives to create a knowledgeable generation who can address problems in health care, the environment and technological infrastructures. Although he teaches some of the most difficult classes in the department, students remark that he teaches them well without scaring them away.

“The 18- and 19-year-olds are different every year. You can’t do the same thing year after year and be successful,” said Triplett. “My lectures are different every time I give them. And it’s not just what happens in class. Some of the greatest gains and losses happen outside of class.

“This award means a lot to me,” he said.

Triplett received his bachelor’s degree from Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, his master’s from Florida State University and his doctorate from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

The William T. Kemper Fellowships for Teaching Excellence were established in 1991 with a $500,000 gift. Kemper, a 1926 MU graduate, was a well-known civic leader in Kansas City until his death in 1989. His 52-year career in banking included top positions at banks in Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma. Commerce Bank manages the trust fund.

Information contributed by Nathan Hurst, MU News Bureau