Citation in Honor of Kenneth R. Hess, 2022 Recipient of the Faculty Distinguished Service Award

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Professor Kenneth R. Hess is a valued colleague in the Department of Chemistry who is student-focused in all that he does
as evident through his teaching, mentoring, scholarship, and service. As noted by one of his colleagues, “He has spent his
career thinking about how to make things better for students.”

Professor Hess has served the Department of Chemistry as Chair from 2001 to 2004, 2015-2016 and 2019-2020. During his service as Chair and throughout his time in the department, he has mentored pre-tenure colleagues, contributed to the development of lab experiments that put chemical analysis into context, and has been key to obtaining and maintaining sophisticated instrumentation. Professor Hess also has been an important contributor to campus conversations regarding student retention and success, significantly engaged in college governance, and served on numerous collegewide search committees.

At a crucial time of institutional need, and after many years serving on the Health Professions Advisory Committee, Professor Hess accepted the assignment to serve as the College’s Health Professions Adviser, in addition to continuing his responsibilities as a chemistry professor. From 2007 to 2012, he extensively mentored and advised students interested in the health professions, assisted them in navigating the admission and application process, and tirelessly worked with many individual applicants on the development of personal statements that best articulated their passion for health-professions careers. He continues to serve as a welcoming resource for all students considering their post-F&M pathways.


Over the past 10 years, Professor Hess has exemplified leadership in service in his efforts toward the inclusion of the Miami Posse cohort at F&M. He played an instrumental role in the initial development of the Miami STEM Posse program in
2011-2012. Professor Hess served as the first STEM Posse mentor for the Class of 2016; developed and led the on-campus, impactful summer immersion program for Posse scholars prior to matriculation; and served on the Posse selection committee for seven of the nine STEM cohorts. He continued to engage and encourage Posse scholars throughout their time at F&M and beyond. As noted by one Posse scholar, “Professor Hess was, and continues to be, one of my greatest mentors and advocates, always reminding me to be confident in myself and not to be fearful of new, different, or challenging things.”  Professor Hess has consistently been a “mentor of mentors” by being a resource for other Posse mentors. He assisted other institutions in the development of STEM Posse programs and was invited by the Posse Foundation to serve as a selected member on a Mentor Panel at a Posse Liaison Conference and as facilitator during the inaugural STEM Posse conference.

Professor Hess also has mentored more than 67 F&M undergraduate research students resulting in 34 peer-reviewed
publications. He has utilized his expertise in mass spectrometry to explore a diverse set of scientific questions, including
probing the fundamental processes of glow discharge plasmas, working with the Clinic for Special Children in Strasburg, Pa., to address clinical aspects of GM3 synthase deficiency, and collaborating with his departmental colleagues to probe proteins modified with unnatural amino acids. In the classroom, Professor Hess has instilled in his students an appreciation for a “toolbox” of skills that provides the knowledge and confidence so that “when in doubt, you can figure it out.” A recent graduate said Professor Hess “helped me to gain confidence in myself and my get more comfortable with uncertainty, figuring things out (even when in doubt), and having no fear.”

For colleagues and students alike, Professor Hess’ humble willingness to lend a helping hand or an empathetic ear has made a profound, positive impact, resulting in a more welcoming and supportive campus environment.