Latha Ramchand, MU provost and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs; Steve Sowers, president and CEO of the central region of Commerce Bank; and Doug Bowles, MU Department of Biomedical Sciences chair, today awarded a 2022 William T. Kemper Fellowship for Teaching Excellence to Christopher Baines. Baines is an associate professor of biomedical sciences in the MU College of Veterinary Medicine.
College of Veterinary Medicine Dean Carolyn Henry joined other administrators surprising Baines by honoring him with the fellowship, which includes a $15,000 check. Kemper Fellowships are awarded to five outstanding teachers at the University of Missouri each year.
The William T. Kemper Fellowships for Teaching Excellence were 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.
Christopher Baines biography
Despite the complexity of the subject he teaches — veterinary molecular and cellular biology — Christopher Baines presents classroom material in a clear and concise manner while generating enthusiasm and building rapport with his students.
“Along with more than 100 other first-year veterinary students, I believe Dr. Baines was a beacon of hope as we started our learning journey as freshly graduated students ready to tackle professional school,” said Katie Kersting, a freshman and president of the College of Veterinary Medicine’s class of 2025. “He is incredibly selfless and teaches with such passion that it is hard not to walk out of the lecture hall rejuvenated and excited for the day.”
Baines’ lectures are regularly attended by Doug Bowles, chair of the Department of Biomedical Sciences, who is impressed with his colleague’s organization and genuine interest in his students’ success.
“I am regularly amazed at Baines’ ability to transform complex, cutting edge cellular and molecular concepts into simple, straightforward presentations for the class and, in addition, present the material in a context that makes it relevant to the students’ future careers,” Bowles said. “His excellent rapport with students removes anxiety that often prevents students from asking questions, and his attention to his students’ mental health is reflected by his consistent ‘check ins’ to see how they are doing emotionally.”
Baines joined the faculty at the College of Veterinary Medicine in 2008 and has taught undergraduate, graduate and professional students. In 2014 and 2019, Baines earned the Golden Aesculapius Teaching Award and SAVMA Teaching Award, honors given by veterinary students to an outstanding teacher. Additionally in 2014, he received the MU Excellence in Education Award from the Division of Student Affairs. Last year, in the midst of transitioning to online teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic, Baines earned both the 2021 Harrison-Kaplan Online Undergraduate Teaching Award and Harrison-Kaplan Online Graduate Teaching Award.
“Dr. Baines is one of the most passionate and committed instructors with whom I have ever had the pleasure of working,” said Carolyn Henry, dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine. “He pledged his own money to create the Baines Fund for Wellness, Mental Health and Inclusivity Work at the CVM. His selfless dedication to students and sheer joy of teaching sets him apart.”
From 2016-2020, Baines earned a nearly perfect student evaluation score of 4.92 for the post popular course he teaches, veterinary cell biology — that includes more than 100 perfect 5.0 ratings. Baines also teaches veterinary physiology, problems in veterinary biomedical sciences, cardiovascular physiology, pathogenic mechanisms in veterinary pathobiology, molecular biology and translational biosciences.
Baines serves as the co-director of the Veterinary Research Scholars Program, a summer program that exposes veterinary students to possible research careers and where co-director and professor of veterinary pathobiology, Craig Franklin, has seen firsthand Baines’ passion for student growth.
“One of the highlights of the program is an annual national symposium where students present their research to students and faculty from similar programs across the country,” Franklin said. “Dr. Baines implemented a post-symposium research forum at MU, which not only keeps scholars enthused but also serves as a tremendous recruiting tool for upcoming programs.”
Baines earned a bachelor’s degree in pharmacology from the University of Bath in Great Britain in 1995 and a doctoral degree in basic medical sciences from the University of South Alabama in 1999. He is a member of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, American Physiological Society and International Society for Heart Research.
In addition to all the metrics, statistics and evaluations that speak to Baines’ professional success, he also recognizes the value in showing the human side of education.
“Teaching is not about showing the students you are some monster put on this earth simply to torture them about mitochondria, but rather it is important to listen, help where I can and show the students I care,” Baines wrote in his “Philosophy of Teaching Statement.” “I proudly show my enthusiasm for teaching and treat my students with the respect they deserve.”