MU Professor, Dr. Brian Silvey, wins Kemper Fellowship Award

Kemper Award
Susan A Worstell

Dr. Brian Silvey, director of bands and Music Education professor, was pleasantly surprised when Chancellor Cartwright visited Wind Ensemble rehearsal March 11 to present him with a Kemper award, the highest teaching award available on the Mizzou campus.

The William T. Kemper Fellowship for Teaching Excellence was 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. The fellowship, which includes a $10,000 stipend, is awarded to five outstanding teachers at the University of Missouri each year. The application, which includes letters of recommendation, curriculum vitae of the nominee, listing of awards, publications and accomplishments, goes through awards committees at three levels before the winners are chosen.  Once they are chosen, the Chancellor, executives from Commerce Bank, the trustee for the Kemper Foundation and present the award during a class session of that instructor.

When asked how he feels about winning the award, Silvey replied, “being awarded a 2019 Kemper Fellowship for Teaching Excellence was incredibly humbling. Having Chancellor Cartwright present the award in front of the Wind Ensemble with several close friends and mentors there to support me was a surreal experience. Our entire School of Music faculty and staff work tirelessly on behalf of all our students, and I’m happy to play a role in our group efforts to provide them the best education possible.  My sincere thanks go to all of my students over the past ten years who have helped to inspire and motivate me to be the best teacher, conductor, and scholar possible.”

Silvey joined the MU School of Music in 2009.  During his time at Mizzou, Silvey has taught music education courses, directed various ensembles, and advised both undergraduate and graduate music education students, including supervising student teachers and overseeing doctoral students working on their thesis.  Silvey has received several teaching awards including a Gold Chalk Award for Teaching Excellence in 2017. As a testament to his exemplary work, he is frequently invited to conduct and adjudicate at middle school and high school honor bands across the United States as well as present research at professional conferences.  

A further testament of Silvey’s success is seen in the admiration from his students and colleagues who were more than happy to submit letters of recommendation to the awards committee.  All quotes in this article were gleaned from those submissions.  Director of Music Education at Mizzou, Dr. Wendy Sims, commented, “…Brian’s teaching activities are extraordinarily diverse, and of the highest quality in every respect, with a strong work ethic that underpins them.  He is a respected leader, turned to by colleagues and administrators for insightful input and with the knowledge that he will follow through and do his best with any task.  His success as a faculty member here, and the esteem with which his research and professional service work are viewed within the profession, make him an inspiring role model for our students.”  Dr. Mark Montemayor, professor and music education area head at University of Northern Colorado, collaborates on research projects with Silvey and has served as a guest speaker in Silvey’s classes.  Montemayor stated, “I have come to greatly admire his [Silvey’s] meticulousness, his broad-mindedness, and his generosity – and I must surmise accordingly that students on his campus have also been the fortunate beneficiaries of these fine traits…Students and faculty at the University of Missouri are most fortunate to have Dr. Brian Silvey as their teacher and colleague, respectively, just as I am fortunate to count him as my friend and collaborator.”  

Dr. Silvey teaches with excellence, always striving to offer his students the best information through his own research, through guest speakers, and by being available to students individually. Current music education student, Erin Rhomberg, stated, “In these past two years [in Dr. Silvey’s classes], I have learned more about teaching than I ever thought possible… We are always receiving constructive feedback from Dr. Silvey that has helped my classmates and I grow into more confident and capable teachers…I feel more confident in my abilities because of all the chances Dr. Silvey has given us to succeed in our education.” Alum Adam Spirk (BSED ’15), Director of Jazz Studies & Associate Director of Bands, Grain Valley Schools added, “As a student at a large university, it is easy to feel like a number or just a person in a lecture hall, but I never felt that way in my interactions with Dr. Silvey.  He always made time to work with me on my individual needs and meet with me one on one.  I felt like I could go to him at any time for advice in virtually anything I was doing.  Dr. Silvey always made me feel like an individual.” 

Dr. Julia Gaines, Director, MU School of Music, summated the application by stating, “based on the statements of numerous students and colleagues, and my own observations, I believe Dr. Silvey has charted a distinctively successful path as a teacher and a scholar during his time at MU.  He has absolutely developed into one of the leaders on our faculty when it comes to both teaching and research.  He is a highly effective role model for his students, and exemplifies the spirit of the Kemper award by always putting students first.”

Dr. Silvey is the sixth member of the School of Music faculty to receive the Kemper award since its inception in 1991.  The School of Music is proud to have such excellent, dedicated members of the faculty and congratulates Dr. Silvey on this tremendous accomplishment.