The Master of Library and Information Science program at the University of Denver Morgridge College of Education has been granted continued accreditation status by the American Library Association (ALA). The decision to grant continued accreditation to the program was based on the “totality of the accomplishment and the environment for learning.”

The Master of Library Information Science is a both theory and practice-based curriculum, focusing on 21st century informational science and data management, and developing the skills needed to evaluate, manage, and adapt to technological change. Graduates of the program have chosen various areas for their fieldwork, including:

  • Archiving at the National Baseball Hall of Fame
  • Archiving interstate projects for the Colorado Department of Transportation
  • Digitization project in the British Library
  • Digitization projects at the Denver Public Library
  • Oral history digitization project at the Jeffco Public Library
  • Creating a digital library about sensory learning
  • Developing and launching a usability study for academic libraries
  • Rebuilding the digital repository of a medical library

The American Library Association (ALA) is the oldest and largest library association in the world. Founded on October 6, 1876 during the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, the mission of ALA is “to provide leadership for the development, promotion and improvement of library and information services and the profession of librarianship in order to enhance learning and ensure access to information for all.”

Morgridge College of Education graduate Dr. Jennie Mizrahi (EdD ’18) has been awarded the John Laska Dissertation Award in Curriculum from the American Association of Teaching and Curriculum (AATC). According to the AATC, each year it recognizes two outstanding dissertations in teaching and curriculum that best represent its mission and founder, Dr. John Laska. Laska earned his doctoral degree from Teachers College and was a professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at The University of Texas at Austin from 1967 until his death in 1995.

Mizrahi’s award-winning dissertation, Underachievement of Creatively Gifted High School Students, tackles why under achievement is a common issue with gifted students, specifically creatively gifted students who may be at greater risk because of personality traits, lack of challenge in strength areas, a mismatch between school environment and student needs, low status associated with creative achievements and behaviors in the school system, and other factors.

“I am humbled by the honor,” Mizrahi said, “and hope that this will give me an opportunity to help raise awareness of the issues faced by creative underachievers so that we as educators may better meet their needs.”

Her research focused on “…six creatively gifted, underachieving high school students from an urban-cluster area in the western United States. A hermeneutic phenomenological approach was used to gather data in the form of interviews with underachieving, creatively gifted students, their parents, and teachers; observation of classrooms; and creative artifacts to uncover the essence of the experience of underachievement for these stakeholders. These data groups were then compared to each other and existing literature to help generate recommendations for changes in school programming and practice for helping this student population.”

According to Dr. Norma Hafenstein, Daniel L. Ritchie Endowed Chair in Gifted Education at the University of Denver and Mizrahi’s academic advisor, Mizrahi’s conclusions “focus and elaborate on the themes of emotionality, learning versus achievement, shaping the student self, motivation and power, and student creativity in crises.”

Mizrahi’s results saw creative high school students, their parents, and their teachers experience underachievement in many ways. According to her, several major themes emerged; the first was the interaction of creativity and underachievement, which included differences in priorities and contradictory goals for various participants in various contexts. The second was motivation. Participants tended to discount or undervalue intrinsic motivation for creative tasks and experienced lack of motivation for school tasks (often seen as “hoop jumping”) as a character flaw on the part of the student, who was often viewed as having a poor work ethic. Participants had little understanding and no tools for increasing motivation. The third theme was the student self. All three sets of participants had similar perceptions of the student self, but the conflict between student needs and student perceived self, and the values and expectations at school and at home placed students sense of self under threat. The fourth theme was power. While a sense of student autonomy is key for creativity and academic success, when students underachieved, parents and teachers tended to exert types of power which undermined student autonomy, sometimes triggering reactance (rebellion against the attempted power influence) in an attempt to protect student autonomy and sense of self.

Mizrahi recommended separate support groups be formed for parents and students, a review of grading policy and goals at the school site, and the formation of a gifted and talented program at the site to help advocate for students and train teachers in differentiated curriculum and the needs of gifted students. The gifted and talented program would also provide extension and exploration opportunities for students.

“Dr. Mizrahi was an exceptional graduate student, a leader in her cohort and a meticulous and thorough researcher,” Hafenstein added. “Simultaneously, her passion for the arts and for a special population of gifted students created the context in which this extraordinary project occurred.”

Part of her award includes a one-year membership to AATC, a conference fee waiver to the annual AATC meeting where the award will be presented, and an invitation to present the dissertation at an AATC conference session. Mizrahi will accept her award and present in person at the 25th AATC annual meeting in Dallas, Texas in October 2018.

The University of Denver recently announced its 2018 professor awards and four Morgridge professors were honored, with two taking home the top award of Distinguished University Professor.

Drs. Douglas Clements and Julie Sarama, from Morgridge College of Education Marsico Institute, are the inaugural recipients of the Distinguished University Professor award at the University of Denver. This new award is the highest award that the University bestows on its faculty members. Selection for this honor is based on scholarly productivity, national and international distinction in a field of research/scholarship, and work that makes a positive impact on society. Their title will remain in effect until resignation or retirement from the University of Denver, at which time they will be named Emeritus Distinguished University Professor.

Clements is a professor of Curriculum and Instruction in the Teaching and Learning Sciences department as well as the Kennedy Endowed Chair in Early Childhood Learning, Kennedy Institute for Educational Success, and the Director of the Marsico Institute for Early Learning. He received his PhD from the University at Buffalo, State University of New York. Previously a preschool and kindergarten teacher, he has conducted funded research and published over 500 articles and books in the areas of the learning and teaching of early mathematics and computer applications in mathematics education. Clements was a member of President Bush’s National Math Advisory Panel, the National Research Council’s Committee on Early Mathematics the Common Core State Standards committee and a coauthor of their reports.  His research interests include creating, using and evaluating research-based curricula, taking successful curricula to scale using technologies, and learning trajectories in standards, assessment, curriculum and professional development.

Sarama is a professor of Curriculum and Instruction in the Teaching and Learning Sciences department as well as the Kennedy Endowed Chair in Innovative Learning Technologies, Kennedy Institute for Educational Success, and Co-Director of the Marsico Institute for Early Learning. She received her PhD from the University at Buffalo, State University of New York. She designed and programmed over 50 published computer programs, including her version of Logo and Logo-based software activities (Turtle Math™, which was awarded Technology & Learning Software of the Year award, 1995, in the category “Math”). Sarama has taught secondary mathematics and computer science, gifted math at the middle school level, preschool and kindergarten mathematics enrichment classes, and mathematics methods and content courses for elementary to secondary teachers.  Her research interests include developing and evaluating research-based educational software and other technologies, using learning trajectories in standards, assessment, educational technology, curriculum and professional development, developing and evaluating research-based curricula, and asking successful curricula to scale using technologies.

Clements and Sarama will be able to share their expertise with the University faculty, staff, friends and DU community at large through the University of Denver Distinguished University Professor Lecture and Performance Series, which will showcase their work.

Dr. Kathy Green was honored as the 2017-2018 Distinguished Teaching Award, as recommended by the Faculty Senate Awards Subcommittee. This award is presented in recognition of excellence in teaching. Green is a professor of Research Methods and Statistics in the Research Methods and Information Sciences Department. She received her PhD from the University of Washington-Seattle.  She was named University of Denver United Methodist Teacher/Researcher of the Year in 1999 and honored with a Fulbright Scholarship to the Slovak Republic in 2002. Her research interests are in applied measurement, specifically applications of the Rasch model, survey research, and teaching statistics.

Dr. William E. Cross, Jr. has been awarded the rank of Emeritus Professor. Cross retired from Morgridge College in June 2018 after serving as a Professor of Higher Education and Counseling Psychology. Cross received his PhD from Princeton University. He holds professor emeritus status from another university but remains active, and he is President-Elect for Div. 45 (APA). His recent publications interrogate the structure of the self-concept; the range of identity profiles found among African American adults; cultural epiphanies; the identity implications of cultural miseducation and false consciousness; and the multiple ways racial identity is enacted in everyday life.

In anticipation of the upcoming academic year, Morgridge College of Education is pleased to announce four faculty promotions within the College.

Dr. Patton Garriott, formerly Assistant Professor of Counseling Psychology, had been promoted to Associate Professor with Tenure in the Counseling Psychology Department. Garriott received his PhD from the University of Missouri. He is a member of the American Psychological Association (APA), Division 17 (Counseling Psychology) of the APA, and the Society for Vocational Psychology. His work has been recognized by Division 17 of the APA and the National Career Development Association. He is currently a Co-Investigator on a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant, which focuses on the career development of women and Latinas/os in engineering. Garriott’s primary areas of research include the academic and career development of students underrepresented in higher education, multicultural issues in vocational psychology, as well as race and racism.

Dr. Ryan Evely Gildersleeve, formerly Associate Professor Higher Education, has been promoted to full Professor. Gildersleeve recently completed his term as Chair of the Higher Education Department and will continue as a professor when he returns from a fall 2018 sabbatical. Gildersleeve received his PhD from the University of California-Los Angeles.  He was a 2012 National Academy of Education / Spencer Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow. Dr. Gildersleeve received the 2011 Early Career Award from the American Educational Research Association’s Division D – Research Methodology. His practical experience ranges across P-20 education in primarily out-of-classroom learning contexts with non-dominant youth. Dr. Gildersleeve’s research agenda investigates the social and political contexts of educational opportunity for historically marginalized communities, focusing on college access and success for Latina/o (im)migrant families, critical higher education policy, and critical qualitative inquiry. He was recently appointed Executive Editor of About Campus: Learning in the College Environment, a flagship journal for ACPA: College Educators International. His editorship is a five-year term and begins this summer.

Dr. Jesse Owen, formerly Associate Professor of Counseling Psychology, has been promoted to full Professor. Dr. Owen recently completed his term as Chair of the Counseling Psychology Department. Owen earned his BS from Ball State University, his master’s degree from U of Miami, and his doctorate from DU. He has worked at Gannon University and University of Louisville prior to joining the faculty at DU. He is a licensed psychologist and has had a private practice at times over the last decade. His research focuses on psychotherapy processes and outcomes as well as romantic relationships. Owen is currently an Associate Editor for two APA journals (Psychotherapy and Journal of Counseling Psychology) and another top tier journal (Archives of Sexual Behavior).

Dr. Andi Pusavat, formerly Clinical Assistant Professor of Counseling Psychology, has been promoted to Clinical Associate Professor. She will continue as Counseling Services Clinic Director. Pusavat received her PhD from the University of Denver. She was formerly with the Iliff Counseling Center where she served as the Director for six years. Other career highlights include President of the Colorado Society of Psychologists in Private Practice for two years; founding member of the Colorado Psychological Association Society for the Advancement of Multiculturalism and Diversity; and presenter at the American Psychological Association and National Summit on Interpersonal Violence and Abuse Across the Lifespan.  Pusavat’s research interests include multicultural counseling, social justice, trauma, interpersonal partner violence, and training and supervision.

On Thursday, May 31, the Morgridge College of Education community came together to honor students in the inaugural Student Awards Celebration. Held in Katherine Ruffatto Hall commons, the awards ceremony was an opportunity for faculty from each program to honor students for their outstanding work and also an opportunity for the College of Education Student Association (COESA) to present four awards of their own.

List of awards and awardees:

Child, Family, & School Psychology
Emerging Scholar Award: Talia Thompson
Emerging Practitioner Award: LeAnn Risten
Outstanding Contribution to CFSP: Aaron Bagley

Counseling Psychology
Outstanding MA Student: Lisa Fuentes
Outstanding PhD Student: Eve Faris

Curriculum & Instruction
Outstanding Student in Curriculum & Instruction: Jodie Wilson
Outstanding Student in Curriculum & Instruction: Brianna Mestas

Early Childhood Special Education
Emerging Leader Award: Jaclyn Bauer

Educational Leadership & Policy Studies
Leading Change: Educational Funding Policy: Kendall Reiley
Leading Change: ELPS Department & COESA: Lorna Beckett
Leading Change: School & Community Partnerships: Kara Blanchard

Higher Education
Outstanding Achievement in Higher Education Praxis: Jillian Martinez
Outstanding Achievement in Higher Education Praxis: Liliana Diaz
Outstanding Achievement in Higher Education Praxis: Katherine Robert

Library & Information Science
Student Mentorship Award: Micah Saxton
Pacesetter Award: Jennie Stevens
Leadership Award: Hannah Craven

Research Methods & Statistics
Star of the Year Award: Lilian Chimuma
Outstanding Scholarship Award: Myntha Cuffy
Program Service Award: Peiyan Liu

Teacher Education
Outstanding Student in the Teacher Education Program: Carolyn Heaney

COESA Awards
COESA Inclusive Excellence Award: Syah Taylor
COESA Leadership Award: Perri Moreno
COESA Service Impact Award: Jessica Bishop
COESA Research Impact Award: Katrina Vandeven

When Library Information Sciences alumna Janet Lee (MLS, ’78) decided to apply for a Fulbright to return to Ethiopia, where she had spent her most recent sabbatical and previous time in the Peace Corps, she didn’t expect the process to move so quickly. But that it did, and within months of applying she was packing her bags (and lots of books, Chromebooks, and a server) for Axum, Ethiopia, a Denver Sister City, to spend 10 months engaging in research in open access publishing at the University of Aksum. In a country where there are only 35 open access journals, Lee is seeking to make access to academic articles much easier for University faculty and students.

She graciously made time to talk with us in June 2017, in the midst of the chaos of leaving.

Lee said at the time that she planned “…to explore avenues of scholarly publishing in Ethiopia that ensure that faculty are provided an opportunity to share their knowledge, perspectives and values and that students and colleagues have unfettered access to their collective scholarship.”

Her arrival in late August 2017 was met with a few hiccups, but eventually she arrived at what came to be her permanent residence in Axum, the Sebean Hotel. The hotel is within walking distance of her assignment at the Foundation Library and the staff is welcoming.

To her surprise, she passes Denver Street every day on her walk to the Foundation Library. Denver and Axum have been sister Cities for 21 years and this was one of the reasons Lee choose Axum as her Fulbright destination. With the help of some current Peace Corps volunteers and friendly residents, she learns the ropes and begins to study Amharic, the official language of Ethiopia. Her greatest challenge is the Aksum University Library, which is under construction and will be moving to a new building in the next year. More than once the lack of technology has given her pause and caused her to question her assignment.

“The library is grossly underfunded and understaffed,” she writes in her blog. “The infrastructure campus-wide is very weak and the Internet has extremely low bandwidth. I celebrate the small things, such as being picked up by campus service every morning and not having to negotiate with a Bajaj [three-wheeled taxi] driver.”

Lee approaches her trials with positivity and an open heart. She truly loves Ethiopia, its culture, and the rich heritage of its people. She treasures building relationships and learning from her experiences, so even though she may experience a setback, she takes it as part of her journey.

“I am grateful to be living in Axum, where every day is a gift,” she writes.

In October, her shipping container arrived from the United States, filled with donations and items Lee was able to secure before her trip. She was able to celebrate the arrival of a set of World Book Encyclopedias, heavy metal bookshelves, her Chromebooks, server, and lots of donated books.

“In one box, I found a near complete run of Journal of Ethiopian Studies. Who but a librarian or a researcher could be excited about this find?”

One morning in December, a colleague mentioned over tea that there were football protests and something about student protests on campus. After another confusing meeting, Lee received a call from the Embassy. She had been inadvertently left off of an important email.

“A student had been killed in nearby Adigrat,” she writes.  “I learned later that it might have been after two rival football teams met and the student killed was not from this region. This sparked protests nationwide causing many college campuses to be closed, Aksum University where I am working not being one of them.”

She assured the Embassy that she is safe. The next day a student from Axum was killed, and his funeral called for increased military presence around campus and the town. In response, and to prevent more rumors and violence, the government shut down access to all social media, internet, and data plans. Lee grew concerned – her mission in Ethiopia is to provide open access via the internet and the unforeseen shut down is stressful. The last access shutdown, before her arrival, lasted for months. Without access to their texts, students were forced to stop their studies and make up for lost time when the ban was lifted.

Luckily, it did not last long and she was able to load the Koha software to the library’s server and implement a new catalog system. Just in time, as the library will be moving to a new building and her next challenge is how to transfer the collection. She only needs to wait on some additional help to implement the Koha system across the library.

By early February, she is able to make a planned trip to Haramaya (formerly known as Alemaya) University to co-teach a class on Digital Libraries. A much older university than Axum, Haramaya is full of culture and history, and an interactive library. Haramaya had been closed during the December protests, and students were frantically trying to complete their missed work and keep up with their new semester course load. Still her lecture was well attended and the students delighted in hearing her American accent.

Lee enjoyed her time there so much she entertained thoughts of trying to move her location, but on her trip back to Axum her colleague called her. He had taken the same route as her, hours later, and been caught in a deadly protest. This was the beginning of a series of protests that resulted in the resignation of the Prime Minster, Hailemariam Deselegn, and a State of Emergency. She decided to stay in Axum, where it is peaceful and safe.

By this time, her work implementing the Koha system has stalled. Still waiting on additional help, she moves on to other initiatives. Two significant personal collections (Gebru Tareke and Zewde Gabre-Sellasie) have been classified, labeled, and placed in glass cases in the Ethiopian Collections room and cables have been laid on the new building to provide it with a network.  All they are waiting on is the ‘go’ to move into the new building.

In March, Lee is able to circle back to a project she began before her trip. In June 2017, she collaborated with a fellow Peace Corps alum to bring his technology with her to Ethiopia. Bill Graf is the founder of ET Learns and implements the RACHEL server with Chromebook operating systems to allow access to a wide array of databases. Once the server is loaded, students will have access to the Ethiopian curriculum, accompanying plasma videos, open access textbooks, power typing, and many science, technology, and mathematics resources. Because these resources are housed on a server, there is no dependence on access to the internet. In a country where internet access and shutdowns are common, the new technology allows students to continue their studies despite outside unrest. With the help of some volunteers and the new building complete, she is able to set up the new Chromebook lab, nearly a year after her initial meeting with Graf.

The library is slated to open in early May and Lee’s sons are expected to join her for its opening.

“Perhaps,” she writes, “they will come to understand what makes their mother tick and why she keeps coming back to this incredible country so often.”

You can keep up with Lee by following her monthly blog https://ilceig.wordpress.com/papers-presentations/

Diana Estrada is passionate about higher education. So much so, that she has spent the last six years pursuing both her undergraduate and graduate degrees at the University of Denver. When she walks across the stage this time, she will be graduating with a masters in Higher Education and plans to use her degree to improve financial aid opportunities and reduce the likelihood of college debt for other students.

June 8th, 2018—Marge Piercy concludes her poem “Seven of Pentacles” with an acknowledgement to endings and the rewards for work done well: “Live as if you liked yourself, and it may happen: reach out, keep reaching out, keep bringing in.  This is how we are going to live for a long time: not always, for every gardener knows that after the digging, after the planting, after the long season of tending and growth, the harvest comes.”  As another year of teaching and learning draws to a close, from pre-school to higher education, it seems appropriate to take a moment and lean into the educational wisdom of Marge Piercy.  What might she mean for a teacher to live as if they liked themselves?  How does it make sense to both live a life you haven’t achieved while also continuing to grow and connect?  And finally, what is the harvest of your teaching?

I find her line, “live as if you liked yourself…” one of the most challenging aspects of teaching.  To teach as if I like myself is not an approach to education that I typically turn to in celebration at the end of the year.  Instead I’m quick to disregard my instructional successes during the year as products of luck or students who are overly kind.  In contrast I’m quick to accept criticism, even minor forms of critical feedback, as accurate and an indication of my instructional inadequacies; the real harvest of my year of teaching. To teach as if I liked myself is a real challenge.  It is far easier to dislike myself when I struggle pedagogically. Yet Piercy invites me to see the world of the classroom differently and live into the challenges of teaching “as if” all is well.  Not denying the pain that exists but also including in my thoughts what I’m capable of achieving.  The mission is to see teaching through an asset instead of a deficit lens.  For instance, I recently coached a novice teacher, who was completing a year of teaching, about the challenges of turning the call to teach into an affirmation of true-ability.  To help with this transformation I encouraged this teacher to extend to themselves a healthy dose of self-grace in recognition that learning to teach is a truly difficult endeavor.  To reflect back over the year and fully own all they accomplished.

Teaching as if you like yourself, especially in moments of struggle, is an act of self-grace that acknowledges it is easier to dislike your teaching than it is to embrace pedagogical success.  I know for myself that too much self-grace has two downsides (1) it can lead to an overly grandiose sense of instructional success (a form of instructional amnesia to what really happened in the classroom), and (2) it turns the gift of reflection inward to the exclusion of the interests and external perspective of students, colleagues, or other professionals.  Marge Piercy reminds me that a good way to integrate the shadow of self-grace—live as if you liked yourself—is to combine instructional egoism with the counter force of being present to others: “reach out, keeping reaching out, keep bringing in”. It is not enough to stand in the glow of self-congratulation for teaching well done this year.  There is also the necessity of connecting with others and becoming part of a larger community.  When I’m engaged in deep and honest pedagogical-relationships with students and colleagues I create the possibility that they will check my overly extravagant use of self-grace. They help me, at the end of the year, to honestly listen to the criticism and advice in ways that can truly improve my teaching.

The combined potency of self-grace, which calms the wounds of instructional struggle, and external accountability to community will effectively frame the rewards of teaching well done.  As Piercy observes: “after the long season of tending and growth, the harvest comes.” For teachers the harvest time is now at the end of the instructional year.  After a long season of teaching, conflict management, community building, curriculum development, caring for others, advocating for students, and grading papers it is time to take stock of the instructional harvest.  To own the professional accomplishments and areas of academic and emotional growth that were carefully facilitated for students.  These are real accomplishments, more than the product of happenstance and good luck.  For teachers the harvest comes at the start of summer not the fall as it does for farmers and backyard gardeners.  What is the harvest of your season of teaching?  Who has changed emotionally or intellectually because of your care and attentiveness?  Who is the student you never gave up on?  How has your teacher-heart been renewed through the connections you made, even in the midst of self-doubt?  Where are you endings this year leading you instructionally and personally?

On May 30, the Fisher Early Learning Center completed another successful school year, which saw 42 children graduate on to kindergarten programs in the Denver-metro area. For the first year, the entire staff of teachers and administrators attended the graduation, making it a truly inclusive celebration. Early childhood is a critical time in a child’s life and we are very fortunate to have such dedicated professionals working on behalf of these children and families. Fisher’s exemplary program and ongoing commitment to serve as the model for high quality care and inclusive education are observed as the teachers and staff bring out the best in these littlest Pioneers each day.

See all of our pictures from the event on our Flickr Album (linked below)!

Being in “the center of it all” is nothing new for DU’s Morgridge College of Education (MCE). But, for the next two years, the notion of being an educational epicenter will take on a whole new meaning. That’s because starting this month, the University of Denver is embarking on a massive construction project that will ultimately transform the entire perimeter surrounding MCE’s Katherine Ruffatto Hall.

The initiative is called the Denver Advantage Campus Framework Plan and seeks to revitalize DU’s 125-acre campus into a vibrant college town in the heart of the city. The first phase of the project is expected to be complete by Fall 2020 and will include:

  • New Residence Halls
  • New Community Commons
  • New Career Achievement Center

Construction of both the Residence Halls and the Community Commons will border the north and east side of Katherine Ruffatto Hall. Construction fences, scheduled to go up in June, will alter vehicle and pedestrian traffic around MCE. To combat some of the inherent challenges associated with such a major construction project, the University is piloting the following transportation options:

  • An “ofo” dockless bike sharing program
  • A free “Chariot” campus shuttle

Once completed, the new Residence Hall and Community Commons will provide MCE with a front-row seat to the most vibrant venues on campus – just steps from fire pits, eateries and creative gathering spaces. Until then, the inhabitants of Katherine Ruffatto Hall will be displaying their trademark innovation as they deal with the inevitable challenges of being in the construction zone shadow.

“We know there will be challenges over the next two years,” says MCE Dean Karen Riley. “But the Morgridge College of Education community is used to coming up with creative, collaborative solutions to problems that others wouldn’t tackle. We’re already planning interactive experiences that will build on the MCE culture and make the most out of this transitionary time.”

An MCE-specific website has been launched providing detailed information on:

  • Parking options
  • Building access
  • Construction timelines

Information about the broader scope of the Campus Framework Plan, including the addition of a hotel, retail spaces and architectural renderings are available here.


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