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Passion for teaching chemistry earns Perry Kopke award

Associate Professor Jamin Perry looks forward to connecting every day with Baker University students and fellow faculty.

“From the colleagues I work with to the students who I instruct, it is the people who make the experience of teaching at Baker enjoyable,” said Perry, who also directs Baker’s pre-engineering program.

Perry’s passion for teaching chemistry and the relationships he has developed since 2016 on the Baldwin City campus were recognized during the May 19 commencement ceremony at Liston Stadium, where he received the Jennie Howell Kopke and Verda R. Kopke Award for Distinguished Teaching. The prestigious award celebrates exemplary faculty who have a record of excellence in teaching, who transform students into scholars, who bring honor to Baker, and who exhibit good moral character. The Kopke Award was established in 1998 by Charles Kopke, a longtime supporter of Baker. It is named in honor of his mother, Jennie Howell Kopke, a 1921 Baker graduate, and his wife, Verda Kopke. Perry received a $5,000 cash award.

“Not only is his dedication to the university, his students, and the chemistry field astounding, but also significant has been his dedication to developing an engineering program at Baker University,” President Lynne Murray announced during commencement.

Flexibility in the Classroom

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Perry joined the Baker faculty eight years ago as an assistant professor before becoming an associate professor five years later. He teaches a variety of classes, including General Chemistry I and II, Physical Chemistry I and II, and Instrumental Analysis. He has also taught freshman orientation, chemistry of cooking, rocketry, scientific computing, and a statistics class.

“The teaching style I use very much depends on the class and its objectives, some are better served via lecture, while others are more hands on,” Perry said. “I try to be flexible and pick the style that I think—and hope—will engage the students in the learning process.”

Perry earned two bachelor’s degrees from Missouri Southern State University and a doctorate from the University of Missouri.  

His ability to motivate students to get up early for class inspired one of the nominators. The student noted, “There are so many words that I could use to describe him. The words I chose to use are ‘Excellent Facilitator of Education.’ Was this course extremely difficult, even for a 3.7 GPA student? Yes. Was it a pain to get up and learn chemistry of all things at 8 in the morning? Yes. Did I enjoy every single second in the classroom? Absolutely.” 

For Perry, teaching at a place such as Baker has been ideal.

“I like thinking about interesting problems, discussing them with like-minded individuals, and finding solutions to said problems,” he said.

Written by Steve Rottinghaus, ’14 MSM

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