Latha Ramchand, University of Missouri provost and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs, and Steve Sowers, CEO Missouri Community Markets today awarded a 2023 William T. Kemper Fellowship for Teaching Excellence to Christopher Josey. Josey is an associate teaching professor in the Department of Communication in the College of Arts and Science, faculty fellow for undergraduate research in the College of Arts and Science, director of undergraduate research in the Department of Communication and director of the honors program in the Department of Communication.
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.
Christopher Josey has developed a reputation in the University of Missouri College of Arts and Science as an engaging, effective teacher with a strong commitment to teaching excellence in the classroom. During his time at MU, Josey has been repeatedly recognized for his excellence by students and colleagues alike as noted by his department chair, J. Brian Houston, in a letter nominating Josey for the Kemper Award.
“A review of student feedback and peer reviews illustrate that Dr. Josey is an extremely effective teacher,” Houston said. “Students rate his courses highly, and in comments they often write that Dr. Josey is energetic, engaged and organized. Peer reviewers describe Dr. Josey’s classroom and instruction as ‘thoughtful,’ ‘student-centered,’ ‘organized’ and ‘engaging.’"
In the past five years, Josey has taught a total of 3,771 students in 53 course sections, including the department’s popular general education course — Communication 2100: Media Communication in Society — which enrolls an average of 200-300 students each fall and spring semester. His passion for teaching is evidenced by the average student evaluation score he’s received over those five years — 4.69 on a 5.0 scale. That score exceeds the department’s average of 4.53 and includes eight perfect 5.0 scores.
One of Josey’s former students, Heather Gray, who took his Communication 2100 course, was so excited by Josey’s passion for instructing that she noted in her nomination letter his course was one of her first experiences at Mizzou where she felt “truly engaged.”
Dr Josey was able to achieve this through rigorous discussions about contemporary issues, meaningful instruction connecting my coursework to the larger society and a culminating project that encouraged me to interact with the material and gather a deeper understanding. As an undergraduate student, this experience renewed my excitement for the learning process and engagement with the material. – Heather Gray, studentIn addition to his duties as an associate teaching professor, Josey serves as the faculty fellow for undergraduate research in the College of Arts and Science, director of undergraduate research in the Department of Communication and director of the honors program in the Department of Communication.
“It is Dr. Josey’s incredible commitment to an enriched student experience that truly sets him apart from other outstanding teachers on our campus,” said Benjamin R. Warner, associate professor and awards committee chair in the Department of Communication. “Nowhere is this more evident than his leadership in the area of undergraduate research. Participating in research with faculty and other students is one of the highest impact learning practices undergraduates can be exposed to during their time at Mizzou.”
Another one of Josey’s former students, Tanner Smith, remembers the help he received from Josey in his work as an undergraduate researcher.
“Although I walked in without any basis of knowledge, Dr. Josey designed his lab in a way that made me never feel like I didn’t know what I was doing,” Smith said. “From the beginning, there was an emphasis on teaching first-year students how to conduct research instead of just throwing us to the wolves. Whether it was instructional documents, readings to help explain the theory behind what we were doing, or even something as simple as always being open to questions, Dr. Josey helped me to gain confidence in my ability to do research.”
Smith also recalls the life skills he gained from working with Josey.
“Dr. Josey also taught me how to be confident and explore more opportunities with this research,” Smith said. “For example, coming into my first year I would have had no idea how to do a poster presentation about the effects of minority-focused news, but by the end of last year it was something I was able to accomplish.”
Josey was selected as one of two Undergraduate Research Mentors of the Year in April 2022, which is a campus-wide award, said Linda Blockus, director of undergraduate research at MU. In an excerpt provided by Blockus from one of the student nomination letters, one student writes that Josey “is a tireless advocate for his undergraduate researchers” and he “encourages us to push ourselves and is always willing to help us branch out and find research opportunities.”
Josey received a bachelor's degree in speech communication from Bradley University in 2006, as well as a master's degree and doctorate in speech communication from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in 2007 and 2015, respectively.
College of Arts & Science Dean Cooper Drury joined other administrators surprising Josey by honoring him with the fellowship, which includes a $15,000 check. Kemper Fellowships are awarded to five outstanding teachers at the University of Missouri each year.