Michelle Keller
KU Endowment

Two educators receive Chancellors Club Teaching Professorships

Fri, 12/09/2022

LAWRENCE — KU Endowment has announced the 2022 Chancellors Club Teaching Professorships. Mark Mort, professor of ecology & evolutionary biology, and Cynthia Colwell, professor of music therapy & music education, are this year’s recipients.

The professors were selected for their dedication, outstanding teaching careers, and recognition from students, peers and other faculty for their contributions to the university and their students while at the University of Kansas. Both honorees have exhibited the necessary qualities to be awarded this honor, as shown through their impressive careers. Brief bios of the recipients follow.

Cynthia Colwell

Cindy ColwellAs an educator and researcher, Cynthia Colwell has made strides for change within the KU music therapy program. She joined the School of Music in 2000 as the director of the Music Therapy Clinic and later became the program director for music therapy.

In her 22 years at KU, Colwell has taught freshman through master's/doctoral coursework and serves as an academic adviser for both undergraduate and graduate students. She has been the committee chair for 55 master’s theses/projects and 11 doctoral dissertations.

Colwell developed a clinical practicum placement in pediatrics at KU Medical Center and later a comparable one at The University of Kansas Cancer Center, working with patients during chemotherapy infusion. She skillfully guided the music clinical therapy program through the COVID-19 pandemic, making it possible for students and faculty to continue their clinical work and learning virtually.

Colwell has been described as a “role model” and “inspiration” by many of her students throughout the years. Former student Jennifer Welch said, “She serves the music therapy department, the students and KU with incredible dedication and wisdom. Any time I've had questions or requested support, she's been available, supportive and helpful. Her guidance, thoughtfulness and respect for me, for her peers and the students are palpable.”

Career highlights:

  • Colwell has served on editorial boards of the Journal of Research in Music Education, Update: Applications of Research in Music Education, Music Therapy Perspectives and Journal of Music Therapy, and she has contributed five book chapters, more than 30 articles, and over 100 clinical and research conference presentations.
  • Colwell serves as the committee chair for the American Music Therapy Association national research committee.
  • She has been awarded the KU Ned Fleming Award for Excellence in Teaching, the AMTA National Research Publications Award, and both the MW-AMTA Regional Service and Research awards.

Mark Mort

Mark MortMark Mort is a professor in the KU Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology. Mort’s research involves using DNA sequence data to estimate evolutionary relationships among members of the angiosperm families Crassulaceae (stonecrops) and Asteraceae (sunflowers), especially the species present in Macaronesia and South Africa.

Throughout Mort's 22 years with KU, he has taught graduate and undergraduate courses and transformed large entry-level STEM courses. Mort served as co-director of the Undergraduate Biology Program for three years (2019-2022) before accepting a position as an associate director in the Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE) in August 2022. In addition to mentoring teaching postdoctoral researchers, Mort has served as co-PI on multiple external grants supporting research on best practices in STEM education.

“Dr. Mort is an exemplary professor in the classroom, working to enhance the learning of students in a supportive manner. He is a true scholar in teaching who garners funding to support the development of the most advanced learning approaches at KU and beyond,” said Lena Hileman, professor and chair of ecology & evolutionary biology, in her nomination letter.

Career highlights:

  • Mort has written and co-written more than 60 peer-reviewed journal articles throughout his career.
  • Mort has been a co-principal investigator on external grants to support teaching innovation, including a National Science Foundation (NSF) IUSE collaborative grant (2015-2020), Association of American Universities (AAU) mini grant (2017-2019), Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Inclusive Excellence 3 (IE3) learning grant (2021-2022).
  • In 2007, Mort was awarded both the J. Michael Young Academic Advisor Award in the Natural Sciences and W.T. Kemper Fellowship for Teaching Excellence awards. In 2018, he was awarded the Ned Fleming Trust Award for teaching innovation.

Each honoree will receive an annual $10,000 honorarium for each of the next five years. The Chancellors Club Teaching Professorship recognizes professors who have demonstrated excellence in teaching and exemplary teaching over a period of years.

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