University of Rochester

Chemistry Professor Recognized for Influential Teaching

August 18, 2008

Jack A. Kampmeier, professor emeritus of chemistry at the University of Rochester, has been selected as a recipient of the 2008 James Flack Norris Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Teaching of Chemistry. The Northeastern Section of the American Chemical Society gives the award annually to recognize chemistry teachers who have had significant effect on the profession.

Kampmeier is being recognized for his national leadership in developing the Peer-Led Team Learning (PLTL) Workshop model for teaching chemistry. The workshop helps students build conceptual understanding in their science and math courses by mobilizing partnerships of faculty and trained peer leaders.

According to Kampmeier, students work in peer-led teams to solve challenging problems designed by the faculty, providing an active learning experience for the students, a leadership role for the undergraduate peer leader, and a creative new dimension to faculty teaching.

Kampmeier collaborated with Vicki Roth, dean of sophomores and director of Learning Assistance Services, to introduce PLTL to Rochester in 1995. The workshop has since been adopted by several other departments at Rochester and at many other colleges and universities. Currently, 1,500-2,000 peer leaders are engaged on more than 150 college and university campuses to facilitate workshops for more than 20,000 students per year.

The workshop has been bolstered with the creation of the Jack A. Kampmeier Fund for Peer-led Workshop Education in Chemistry—a fund started by the Kampmeier family, friends and colleagues. The fund is used to support initiatives that extend and strengthen the Peer-led Workshop program in the Department of Chemistry.

Kampmeier chaired the Department of Chemistry from 1975 to 1979, served as associate dean for graduate studies from 1982 to 1985, and dean of the College of Arts and Science from 1988 to 1991. He received the University's Edward Peck Curtis Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching in 1974 and in 1999, the College's Goergen Award for Distinguished Achievement and Artistry in Undergraduate Teaching. In 1999, he was also the recipient of the Chemical Manufacturers' Association Catalyst Award for Excellence in Science Teaching. Except for two sabbaticals, as National Science Foundation Faculty Fellow at the University of California at Berkeley (1971-1972) and as Fulbright Senior Research Scholar at the Albert Ludwigs Universität Freiburg, Germany, Kampmeier has been a part of the University of Rochester for nearly 50 years.

Kampmeier shares the Norris award with David K. Gosser, Jr., professor of chemistry at the City University of New York, and Pratibha Varma-Nelson, professor of chemistry and executive director of the Center for Teaching and Learning at Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis.