The late Marilyn Stein (BA ’55, education) of Denver has bestowed $3.2 million of her estate to fund the arts and early childhood education programming at the University of Denver.

This significant gift, which the University recently received, supports the creation of endowments for the Lamont School of Music, the Morgridge College of Education and the School of Art and Art History in the following ways:

  • $1.1 million will support the Lamont School of Music to fund student learning and creativity in the performing arts. For instance, the endowment can fund the repair and replacement of musical instruments, such as percussion sets and pianos, which are heavily used on a daily basis.
  • $1 million will support the Morgridge College of Education’s Fisher Early Learning Center and fund student scholarships and speech therapists.
  • $1.1 million will support the School of Art and Art History to fund materials that facilitate student learning and creativity in the visual arts. For example, this gift enables faculty to purchase a digitally programmable kiln for ceramics students, textbooks for art history students or darkroom equipment for photography students.

“Ms. Stein’s estate gift significantly increases our ability to serve and teach our students,” says University Chancellor Rebecca Chopp. “As a teacher, Ms. Stein understood firsthand the financial hurdles facing educators. It’s appropriate that her estate gift creates a legacy at DU through which we can honor her lifelong passion for education and the arts.”

A Denver native and lifelong resident, Stein was a kindergarten teacher for the Englewood School District and Denver Public Schools. She attended East High School before graduating from the University of Denver with a BA in education in 1955. According to those who knew Stein, her work was her passion and the impact she had on children during her lifetime was monumental.

“This generous expression of philanthropy indicates a deep confidence in the University of Denver to realize Ms. Stein’s vision for future generations of students,” says Armin Afsahi, vice chancellor for advancement. “We are grateful that she chose DU for her gift.”

Stein, whose birthday would have been today, died on Nov. 29, 2014, at the age of 81.

The original article is available in the DU Magazine.

You can also learn more in the Denver Post .

Library and Information Science (LIS) student Anna Kongs is refurbishing an ambulance into an interactive bookmobile to serve the greater Denver community; it is expected to officially launch in summer 2016. Kongs plans to establish a presence—similar to food trucks—at many of the area’s local farmer’s markets and festivals and will provide an interactive experience for patrons through light and sound as well as by hosting events for artists and writers. In addition, the bookmobile will serve high-need and less-resourced areas of Denver as a mobile library, bookstore, and book donation center.

Kongs started the project because of a lifelong love of books and interest in stories, and she “didn’t want to wait until graduation” to begin applying the lessons of her studies to the outside world. She came to the University of Denver (DU) from an accounting career—wanting a change to a creative field—and joined the Library and Information Science program because of the versatility that graduates have in their careers, choosing to focus on public librarianship, outreach, and programming. With the bookmobile, Kongs wants to give back to the community and carve a place in the local literary community.

The project has gained awareness on campus and in the literary community; Kongs has benefitted from support from her peers at the Morgridge College of Education (MCE)—many of whom have offered assistance—and advice from literacy nonprofits in Denver such as the Lighthouse Writers Workshop and Burning Through Pages.

Kongs successfully applied for 501(c)3 non-profit status, which she says was in and of itself a learning experience. She completed a test run of the bookmobile this spring, and will attend her first events in Denver this month. She has created a digital presence for the project, which can be found here.

Upcoming Events

  • HED Lunch & Learn, 4/6
  • ASHE Proposal Workshops 4/16 & 4/20
  • HED Praxis Day 5/27
  • 3/29 Student Affairs Panel
  • 04/12 NASPA Conference Debrief
  • 5/27 HED Praxis Day & End of year celebration
  • 6/3 DU Graduation
  • Ted Talk Tuesday date TBD
  • Student Alumni Speaker date and guest TBD
Stay Connected!

  • DU HED Facebook
  • DU HED Twitter
  • HESA Facebook Page 
    (Student/Alumni Led)
  • HESA Portfolio Page
  • HESA Board Meetings
    Everyother Tuesday 6-7PM
    KRH Board Room
HED Recent Faculty Achievement

  • Dr. Judy Marquez Kiyama received the Outstanding Faculty Award from the Latino Knowledge Community at NASPA.
  • Dr. Cecilia M. Orphan received a DU Public Good Grant supporting her project, “Leading Collective Civic Impact: Measuring and Advancing Higher Education’s Contributions to Civic Health in Colorado Community Partner(s): Campus Compact of the Mountain West.”
  • Dr. Ryan Evely Gildersleeve was named to the Editorial Board for the Journal of College Access.
  • Dr. Laura Sponsler was selected as Co-Chair of the NASPA Service Learning/Civic Engagement Working Group
  • Dr. Bill Cross Will be Keynote Speaker at the 2016 Higher Education Diversity Summit (HEDS) in the Auraria Campus.

HED Spring 2016 Newsletter (3)


A mix of students from HED MA and EdD/PhD programs participated in the annual DU Research & Performance Summit at the end of January.  In total, students delivered 7 sessions focused on topics including: safe spaces on campus, racist and sexist contexts surrounding doctoral women of color, international students, and issues of diversity and inclusive excellence.

Inclusive Excellence in the HED Curriculum

By Cecilia M. Orphan, Assistant Professor, Higher Education 

HED Spring 2016 Newsletter (1)Shortly after the Mizzou protests, I was talking with a graduate student of color from Brandeis about her efforts to create a racially inclusive campus. I pushed her, in the same way I had pushed DU students, to identify specific demands for her administration.
My fear was that unless students were specific about what they wanted, the protests would dissolve and it would be business as usual. She responded by saying, “With all due respect, it’s not my job to fix campus culture. It’s the job of the people who run this place.” Her comment struck me deeply. She’s exactly right – it’s not the job of students to fix racially hostile campuses. It’s the job of staff, faculty and administrators – those with positional power – to create inclusive cultures. We can do this by verbalizing and claiming our shared stake in ending oppression and honoring the diverse identities students possess.

Indeed, students embody a wealth of expertise and identities. Our role as professors is to surface this wisdom by getting to know each student and treating them as a colleague. I strive to do this by emphasizing to students that our classroom is a co-created experience. Throughout each course I teach, I welcome and use student feedback. I tell students that I want to know if anyone on campus or in the classroom – myself included – acts in oppressive ways. Because students may not always feel comfortable giving feedback in person, I maintain a SurveyMonkey for anonymous feedback.

I have been influenced by bell hooks’s assertion that teaching is a political act and, at its best, a practice of freedom. If, as professors, we choose to highlight current events and practice freedom in our classrooms – that is a political act. And if, as professors, we choose to ignore these events and perceive ourselves as the sole experts – that is an equally political act. By using my position to practice freedom, I hope that inside and outside the classroom, I am able to promote Inclusive Excellence. Of course I don’t always get it right but hey – that’s what the SurveyMonkey is for.

Featured Program: Jonathan Butler Visits DU

Jonathan Butler, Graduate student University of Missouri. Photo: Twitter

Jonathan Butler, Graduate student University of Missouri. Photo: Twitter

Jonathan Butler, graduate student at the University of Missouri, activist, educator, and member of the group “Concerned Student 1950” will be visiting the University of Denver on May 2nd . Stay tuned for more details.

A Dialogue on Professional Development: Thinking Outside the Box

By:  Rod Bugarin, HED EdD Student & Shannon Lopez, HED PhD Student 

HED Spring 2016 Newsletter (2)ROD: Hey Shannon, are you going to the SACSCOC meeting this fall? I remember you worked on UTHSCSA’s accreditation.

SHANNON: Actually, I’m shifting career paths.

ROD: How did that come about?

SHANNON: Even though I’ve enjoyed working with my institution’s data to report outcomes evaluation, I want to work more with students. I’ve always known that I want more of that direct connection and seeing how our faculty engage with us, in and out of class, I find myself following that interest even more.

ROD: I know our coursework encourages us to find ways to develop and to make a difference in communities that will benefit from work we are passionate about. Beyond conferences and working on campus, I’ve really enjoyed how opportunities in organizations outside of academia have given me a new dimension about what I can do when I graduate. Don’t get me wrong – I know I can make change as a campus administrator; but I’ve also been inspired by my peers who have thought outside the box and sought work experiences beyond those on a college campus like those in consulting groups, government agencies, and non-profits.

SHANNON: I never thought about getting experience that way. So beyond conferences or part time work, I could intern with the Colorado Department of Higher Education or Denver Scholarship Foundation this summer.

ROD: Yes, or during the quarter if you can squeeze it in. Next year, I hope to intern with one of the enrollment consulting groups based in Denver. With my advisor’s permission, I hope to use it as one of my electives.

SHANNON: Thanks for that insight. I was concerned about how I’d be continuing building my resume while balancing coursework. I knew about the value of conferences and workshops to further myself professionally, but had not considered finding alternative experiences outside of a campus.

ROD: Denver is unique in that there are lots of opportunities in the metro area. And to be a change agent, we should (and are encouraged to) think big. Have you thought about getting experience with an organization in San Antonio?

SHANNON: Yes! There’s a non-profit called Communities in Schools. It’ll be perfect as it’ll give me hands on experience with students, while I can research those interests I’ve developed in class on the intersections between families, schools, and students.

ROD: That’s outside the box thinking! And this would be a great experience that Dr. Kiyama would love to have in her class. You should ask if you can be her TA next year. But, ask early. I know a lot of our fellow doctoral students want to have TA experience as it’s another great avenue for professional development.

SHANNON: Any other tips?

ROD: Finding mentors in other fields is very helpful. I remember advice that Marybeth Gasman gave during an ABAFOILSS
(Association of Black Admissions and Financial Aid Officers of the Ivy League and Sister Schools) meeting about the importance of having a “board of mentors.” This way, when there are new opportunities and challenges in your professional and personal life, you can turn to multiple seasoned professionals to help you navigate these choices.

SHANNON: I can definitely work on that. After all, my partner, family and friends can only stand so many of my “What should I do with my life?” questions.

How do you spend your summer?

For EdD Students

By Katie Kleinhesselink, HED EdD Student 

HED Spring 2016 Newsletter (5)

Many of us in the EdD program are employed fulltime, myself included. Summer, for me, is that precious time in which I can intentionally play with implementing what I’ve learned in the program into my work. For example, I spent most of last summer editing a faculty-focused service learning curriculum. I was able, in that process, to pull directly from Org & Gov. and Higher Ed. Law to flesh out chapters that were woefully lacking on topics like navigating institutional barriers and risk management.

Thanks to my class project in Social & Political Context, I was also able to create an orientation for my veterans-focused VISTA program that addresses critical questions of intersectional identities in campus veteran spaces. I live and learn by doing—I am, after all, a practitioner.

Summer offers the space for me to intentionally merge my student and professional identities, take risks I might otherwise have not, and ultimately grow programs that better meet the needs of Campus Compact of the Mountain West’s member institutions.

For MA Students

By Ana Ramirez, HED MA Student 

HED Spring 2016 Newsletter (6)

Summer time is the perfect time for me to see what I want to potentially do or not do, upon graduation. Last year I had the opportunity to do my internship with the Dallas County Community College District with the Student Success Center and I assisted with the Dallas Mayor’s Interns Fellows Program with Education is Freedom.

March is a great month to start reaching out to contacts about potential summer opportunities. If you are seeking an internship, specially paid, contacting them a couple months before the summer arrives, gives them time to explore ways they can accommodate you.

Also, making use of career services at DU can be helpful in preparing for career opportunities during the summer. For example, I attend workshops that include but are not limited to LinkedIn, negotiating salary, interview skills and I also make one-on-one appointments with a career counselor to review my resume and cover letter. Taken together, reaching out to your contacts and networks can prove handy as you explore potential summer opportunities. I am currently doing all these things as I prepare for a new career upon graduation.

For PhD Students

By Delma Ramos, HED PhD Student

HED Spring 2016 Newsletter (7)

Summer is a critical time for PhD students who want to pursue opportunities such as research internships/associateships and teaching to enhance their trajectories in their academic programs.

The past two summers in particular, have given me the opportunity to work for places that allow me to explore higher education through different contexts and methodologies.During my second year in the program, I completed an internship at the Education Commission of the States. In this position I learned more about policies that impact higher education, and also worked in collaboration with policy analysts to explore topics such as higher education strategic planning across all states and financial aid policies and statutes affecting diverse communities.

Last year, I did a summer associateship with the RAND Corporation LA. This opportunity not only allowed me to spend the summer in West LA but also to learn more about how higher education, in conjunction with other disciplines shapes policies at a macro level.

Some of the most useful resources that helped me identify and pursue some of these opportunities include, the DU career center, LinkedIn, ASHE and AERA listservs, and also running google searches for summer opportunities for doctoral students. Good luck this summer!

Choose2Matter (C2M) is a national movement created by Angela Maiers to inspire K-12 students to take ownership over their educational experience. Courtney Collins—a Curriculum and Instruction (CI) student—is working with Maiers to further promote C2M and establish a partnership between the movement and the University of Denver. Collins met Maiers in the fall of 2015 and invited her to speak at the students’ Practice of Teaching course taught by Clinical Professor Paul Michalec, PhD.

The goal of C2M is to empower students—by themselves, their peers, and their teachers—to practice passion-based learning, including exploring “heartbreaks”— issues that affect students on a local, national, or international level — and to identify their genius, or unique strengths, as individual learners and contributors to the classroom. Schools participate in the movement by hosting C2M workshops.

Collins describes C2M’s approach to identifying “heartbreaks” and connecting them with passion projects as “taking problem solving to the next level” by motivating students to identify and explore issues in order to create solutions. At a recent workshop that Collins attended in Saskatchewan, Canada, students from the third grade through high school collaborated on exploring and identifying solutions for a range of heartbreaks, including mental health, loss of family members, bullying, and feelings of invisibility.

Collins said the premise of the movement “hits a fundamental nerve”, a sentiment shared by Morgridge College of Education students Tess Golding, Alicia Saxe, and Sarah Wilkins, who became interested in C2M after hearing Maiers’ presentation. Saxe and Wilkins support C2M through advocacy and workshop facilitation while Golding is starting a position as C2M’s website and social media intern. All of the students are pursuing involvement with C2M outside of course and program requirements because they consider the mission of the movement critical to their career plans and aspirations as future educators.

Recent Child, Family, and School Psychology program graduate Brittany Greiert focused her academic research and dissertation on sex and relationship education for individuals with autism, a topic that has seen little research or development of guidelines until recently.

Prior to enrolling at the Morgridge College of Education (MCE), Greiert worked with a nonprofit reproductive health organization and noticed the lack of resources available for individuals with disabilities. This inspired Greiert to continue her education in order to address the resource gap, and she chose MCE because of the college’s support of her research interests. Greiert says that historically there have been extremely limited resources for comprehensive sexual education for those with autism, and that while there has been progress in the past few years, there are few guidelines on the topic.

Her work has led to a variety of opportunities for collaboration and sharing in the community and on a national level; in 2015, she collaborated with a colleague at Emerge: Professionals in Autism, Behavior, and Personal Growth to present a workshop at the Autism Society of Colorado titled “What happens in Vegas…Autism Style! Sex, dating, and intimacy.” Nationally, Greiert presented her findings on data, resources, and gaps in research at the 2016 National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) annual conference.

Greiert’s dissertation research resulted in the development of the Guidelines for the Development of Sexuality Education Curricula for High Functioning Adolescent Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder. The guidelines are intended to be used as a tool to guide future sex education curriculum development, address the unique needs of students with autism, and provide suggestions to modify existing curricula so that their needs are met. Furthermore, the guidelines function as an advocacy tool to increase awareness of the unique needs of high-functioning students with autism.  Greiert says that being proactive in creating a structured approach and presentation of information would be of huge benefit to individuals with autism as well as to school psychologists and parents of children with autism.

We are excited to highlight Morgridge College of Education Higher Education PhD student Delma Ramos. Delma focuses on social justice in higher education and explores systems of access and opportunity for underserved populations that stem, in part, from her experience as a first generation student. Her inspiring scholarship has led to a variety of opportunities including a summer associate position at the American Council on Education Center for Policy, Research, and Strategy! Below Delma shares her professional experience and advice:

Current research

I have been involved in collaborative projects guided by both qualitative and quantitative methodologies. Currently, I am participating in a study that explores the transition to college of low-income and first generation families and the systems institutions have in place to determine their involvement in their children’s college experience. Another project examines the academic trajectories of low-income, first generation women of color in racialized and sexualized academic settings.

Most recently I was invited to collaborate in two studies one which seeks to understand the role that low-income and families of color play in cultivating their children’s educational aspirations and ideologies, and one that involves the construction of a series of measures of Funds of Knowledge. I am also currently working with the Colorado Department of Higher Education on projects related to developmental education and performance metrics.  This summer, I look forward to joining the American Council on Education Center for Policy, Research, and Strategy in DC as a graduate summer associate exploring federal policies impacting higher education. Findings from at least two of the projects have been widely disseminated at forums including ASHE, NASPA, and AERA. Several publications that have emerged from this work are currently in the pipeline.


Most of the research inquiries I have participate(d) in are collaborations with various researchers.  In these settings, I play different roles as part of the research process from proposal development to finding dissemination and the creation of recommendations. These partnerships have taken place within the University of Denver, primarily with my academic advisor Dr. Judy Marquez Kiyama and with colleagues from outside organizations including the University of Missouri, the University of California-Los Angeles, Teachers College, the Denver Scholarship Foundation, RAND Corporation, and the Education Commission of the States.

Initial Inspiration

My research interests include access, retention, and graduation from higher education institutions, with an emphasis on underserved populations. Additionally, I focus on the assessment of programs with similar foci and on issues pertaining to educational quality and inclusive pedagogies in higher education, with a special interest in measure development. Philosophically, my research agenda is driven by my passionate commitment to social justice and my vision for a more inclusive and accessible higher education system. My research interests are further strengthened by my background as a first generation student and my exposure to scholars who study inequities in higher education as influenced by economic, social, and political contexts.

Biggest Challenge

As a woman of color, my biggest challenge has been to identify support systems that strengthen my ability to persist and succeed in my program at DU. My support network is composed of colleagues within and outside of DU as well as family and friends outside of Higher Ed.

Research Advice: Make Connections

I have found networking to be a very effective tool to access a wide array of research and other professional development opportunities.  Reach out to those people you would like to work with, you’ve got nothing to lose!

NOTE: This blog post is being featured from the official blog of the University of Denver’s Office of Graduate Studies.

Joybox Studios—a startup established in 2015 by Will and Julie Clark, the creative minds behind Baby Einstein—has partnered with the University of Denver (DU) to develop early childhood curriculum materials including activities, music, videos, games, flash cards, books, and toys. The materials are designed based on research from early childhood education experts.

The collaboration between DU and Joybox Studios is a part of Project X-ite, a cross-disciplinary initiative at the University intended to ignite new ideas and build exciting, innovative partnerships with creative thinkers and doers in industry and government.

The partnership allows Joybox to leverage the expertise of three academic departments at DU, including the Morgridge College of Education (MCE), Daniels College of Business (DCB), and the Daniel Felix Ritchie School of Engineering & Computer Science. The project also leverages DU’s location at the heart of Colorado’s thriving high-tech innovation economy.

Carrie Germeroth, Ph.D, Assistant Director of Research at the Marsico Institute for Early Learning and Literacy at MCE, is the team lead for the project. Dr. Germeroth will lead a diverse group of students from across the University as they delve into longitudinal efficacy studies, resource creation, business analytics, Latino market studies, project management, video production, and application development. The students – who will come from MCE, DCB, and the Ritchie School – will work together to create a finished product.

Joybox Studios will also create a suite of tech-based and physical tools for parents and children—birth to three—providing parents with a road map for understanding, supporting, and monitoring their child’s development. Dr. Germeroth, along with Research Methods and Statistics students Heather Blizzard and Ksenia Polson, are providing research support for the development of the tools, including the creation of a research design intended to evaluate the suit of tools and the creation of a plan for data collection which supports iterative development. Utilizing the expertise of MCE faculty and students will enable Joybox to create more effective means of developing and measuring their products.

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