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University of Central Missouri
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Warrensburg, MO 64093
Phone: 660-543-4640
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McKee Recognized for Dedication to Students with Byler Award

Contact: Jeff Murphy
WARRENSBURG, MO (March 31, 2011) – Rhonda McKee, a professor whose  work includes dedication to helping young women pursue mathematics careers, has earned the University of Central Missouri’s highest faculty honor. She is the 2011 recipient of the Byler Distinguished Faculty Award.

The announcement of McKee as award recipient was made today at a meeting of the Board of Governors. McKee will be honored during a public reception planned for 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 13, in Elliott Union 234A. She also will be recognized before thousands of new UCM graduates and their families attending morning and afternoon commencement exercises Saturday, May 7 in the Multipurpose Building.

Dr. Rhonda McKee
Dr. Rhonda McKee

The award is named for William H. Byler, an inventor, author and teacher who graduated from UCM in 1927 with a major in chemistry and physics. He established an endowment fund to provide annual recognition for distinguished faculty performance, evidenced by teaching, scholarly or creative activity and professional- related service. Colleagues in the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science who support McKee’s nomination note that she exemplifies the type of individual for who the award is intended. They have described her as exemplary, passionate, professional, and valued by her peers,

“I consider Dr. McKee to be an excellent teacher, scholar and colleague whose contributions to the department, university and profession have been significant,” said Ed Davenport, department chair. “She is one of the most dedicated faculty members I have had the pleasure to work with.”

Terry Goodman, professor of mathematics education, called McKee an “enthusiastic and gifted teacher.”

“Students consistently ‘sing her praises,’ he said in his letter of support. “While her courses are demanding and push students to excel, she works hard to create a learning environment that is challenging, yet safe and supportive.”

McKee joined the university in 1984 as an instructor of mathematics, and climbed the faculty ranks to become a full professor in 1998. She has taught at least 16 different courses over the years, helping students to grasp tough mathematical concepts in courses ranging from general education courses to graduate-level analysis and topology courses. In 1993, she became one of the first UCM faculty members to begin teaching via interactive television. She’s added a more personal touch to ITV by visiting the remote sites a couple of times each semester to meet and teach students who typically only see her in person on the TV screen.

In addition to her strong record of teaching, her scholarly endeavors are numerous and have included many presentations before professional groups and contributions to scholarly journals. In addition, she has served as co- principal investigator for a variety of grant-funded projects that provided K-16 students and teachers and university colleagues with opportunities to enhance their mathematics knowledge and related instructional skills. From 1999-2010, McKee was the principal grant writer for nine Sonia Kovalevsky High School Mathematics days. The program has received funding by the National Security Agency, and brings high school girls to campus each year to learn about mathematics while visiting with professional women who use mathematics and computer science in their careers.

McKee has served on numerous university, college and department committees, and has divided her time between teaching and campus service to support students. She has sponsored and served as corresponding secretary to Kappa Mu Epsilon, a student mathematics honor society she has been affiliated with since 1989, and has held leadership posts at the national level. In 2013, she will become the national KME president representing 144 chapters around the country.  She served for two terms as Faculty Senate vice president and is a faculty sponsor and board member for the UCM Baptist Student Union.

The longtime UCM educator commented on her selection for the university’s most prestigious faculty recognition, “I am very honored to be receiving the Byler Award.  I have a great deal of respect for the past recipients of the award and am excited to be associated with this distinguished group of faculty members."

McKee has garnered other honors during her tenure at UCM, including the 1999 Governor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, 1999 Award for Distinguished College or University Teaching of Mathematics, Missouri Section of the Mathematical Association of America, and the Advisor of the Year Award presented by Campus Activities in 1995.

She earned her doctorate and master’s degrees from the Missouri University of Science and Technology and her bachelor’s degree from Missouri Southern State University.