This coming August will mark the four-year anniversary of KangJae “Jerry” Lee beginning his time at the University of Missouri and the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources. With the sport management program being new at the time, the parks, recreation and tourism program (PRT) was in need of a new hire to keep pace with the rapid increase in enrollment.
It is how Lee has spent these past few years that recently earned him a Golden Apple Award for his excellence in teaching and advising. Lee was nominated by David Vaught, associate teaching professor and undergraduate degree program coordinator, School of Natural Resources (SNR; Joshua Millspaugh, former director of SNR; and Keith Goyne, associate director of SNR.
On the morning of Feb. 21, Bryan Garton, CAFNR associate dean and director of academic programs, along with several of Lee’s colleagues, surprised Lee and the students in his recreation programming class in the Agriculture Building. During the presentation, Garton discussed how Lee embodies the two goals of CAFNR: to create an
environment that ensures academic success and to prepare students for a successful career.
Lee’s dedication to his students’ learning was clear, as one student informed Garton that the presentation had interrupted Lee scolding his class for not being prepared. The auditorium’s laughter proved that the class understood Lee’s motivation.
Garton also brought up an evaluation from a former student now employed with the Kansas City Chiefs. The student was grateful that Lee’s teaching adequately equipped him for success. However, Garton joked that this teaching must not have included how to make a successful postseason run.
Lee’s nominators said, “Jerry is an outstanding teacher with tremendous stage presence. . . who is clear, on topic, factual, current and full of applied content.”
Lee began working at SNR after completing his Ph.D. from Texas A&M University in 2013. He currently teaches classes on administration of leisure services, constructs of leisure, personnel-management and leadership in leisure services, recreation programming, research methods and the business of sport. The evaluations from these courses have produced a line of positive student reviews.
“Jerry is the best teacher I have had in the PRT program,” a student commented. “He is an amazing teacher and cares about nothing more than students learning.”
Another noted, “Jerry was a phenomenal instructor. He tried to engage the class and was enthusiastic about his teaching. He cared about students and even learned all of our names and facts about us.”
Lee’s research has involved behaviors of ethnic and racial minorities, racism and discrimination, and inter-group contact in leisure, sport, and tourism activities. This research recently contributed a news story on the website of KOMU, the Columbia NBC affiliate, on how racial history may explain low park visitor rates for African-Americans
Garton and CAFNR faculty members interrupt Lee's recreation programming course on Feb. 21.
Jan Russell and CAFNR faculty and staff walk to the front of Lee's class with the Golden Apple box in hand.
Garton discusses Lee's dedication to his students and his passion in teaching.
Garton hands off the prized apple.
Garton congratulates Lee for his award.
Lee laughs as Garton mentions that Lee's former student, now employed with the Kansas City Chiefs, apparently did not learn how to lead a team to a successful postseason.
Lee stands with fellow CAFNR faculty and staff members.
Lee is joined by the students of his recreation programming course.
Lee with his prize.