2022 Annual Report: Transforming Together
Welcome to Transforming Together, the 2022 Morgridge College of Education at the University of Denver Annual Report. For an alternative version, check out the 2022 MCE Annual Report Presentation. To explore previous editions, visit the Dean’s Annual Report page.
In This Report
Welcome & Thank You
- Welcome from Dean Michelle Knight-Manuel
- Thank you, MCE
Advocates & Innovators: Social Justice and Equity
- Faculty in Focus: Dr. Samuel Kim - Give Our Profession Away
- Faculty in Focus: Dr. Christine Nelson - Creating Paths for Equity
- A Lifetime of Impact - Dr. William E. Cross Jr. Receives APA's Highest Award
- Student Spotlight: Sandra Bertram Grant - Challenging the Status Quo. Changing the Future.
- Amazing Alumni: Shakira D. Abney-Wisdom - Bridging the Gap
- Student & Alumnx: Paulina Lerma - Driven to Make a Difference
- Teacher-Scholars: Transforming Leadership & Inquiry
- A Community Connected: Transforming Access to Education & Program Quality
From Dr. Michelle Knight-Manuel
Our journey towards a more equitable today and just future is not ours alone. Our path is shared with all of those who are committed to the public good, equity in education, and innovation and excellence in service to addressing educational and health disparities.
We have sought transformation and impact in a variety of ways. Through our research advancements, teaching accomplishments, and service commitments, members of the MCE community are making a difference locally, nationally, and globally.
We invite you to explore some of the notable steps along our path in the pages to follow and thank everyone, near and far, who has contributed to our intentional transformation and impacts over the past year.
300%+ Online Program Applications
63.4% Acceptance Rate
Top 100 in the Nation
Colleges of Education (2022, 2023)
#35 in the Nation
Library & Information Studies (2021)
#24 in the Nation
Education Administration & Supervision (2023)
#18 in the Nation
Secondary Education (2021)
Faculty in Focus: Dr. Samuel Kim
Give Our Profession Away
Dr. Samuel Kim joined the Morgridge College of Education in Fall 2021 as an Assistant Professor of School Psychology. Dr. Kim's research interests include positive psychology, psychological measurement, bullying, and Korean American mental health. When he joined MCE, he brought with him a passion for improving the lives of marginalized communities. In 2022, he launched an independent podcast, Research Sense for Korean American Therapy to explore "the latest mental health research pertinent to Korean Americans."
In the podcast, he and Sharon Kim (Executive Director of Mustard Seed Generation) make mental health information digestible and accessible. They break down new research in ways that enable listeners to learn conveniently and freely. Through his work, Dr. Kim is removing barriers to access to information in service to improving mental health outcomes for Korean Americans and others.
$4.5M Financial Aid Awards (2021-22)
$200k New in 2022: Need-Based Aid
Faculty in Focus: Dr. Christine Nelson
Creating Paths for Equity
Dr. Christine Nelson is a K’awaika and Diné Associate Professor of Higher Education. She believes that every student – especially those from underserved and marginalized communities – deserves equitable access to higher education. In addition to her research and teaching, Chris serves as the Faculty Director for Native American Initiatives at the University of Denver. In her many roles, she challenges us to consider “how the University of Denver, as an institution of higher education, perpetuates and benefits from the displacement and erasure of the over 50 Indigenous communities who have maintained a connection to the lands we currently call Colorado and Denver.”
We are grateful to Dr. Nelson for her dedication to helping members of our community honestly, actively, and intentionally reflect on the past in service to a better tomorrow.
A Lifetime of Impact
Dr. William E. Cross Jr. Receives APA's Highest Award
Dr. William E. Cross Jr., Emeritus Professor of Higher Education and Counseling Psychology, was selected as the 2022 recipient of the American Psychological Association (APA) Award for Outstanding Lifetime Contributions to Psychology.
Dr. Cross's work has inspired generations of scholars. His Nigrescence model has influenced equity advocacy, psychology, cultural identity scholarship, and more. We commend Dr. Cross for his tireless and inspirational inquiry, thank him for his many years of teaching, and congratulate him on his most recent accolade.
Student Spotlight: Sandra Bertram Grant
Challenging the Status Quo. Changing the Future.
Sandra is a Counseling Psychology, first-generation Mexicana student, immigrant, and advocate.
Sandra Bertram Grant is a Counseling Psychology doctoral student. As a first-generation Mexicana student, immigrant, and advocate, she has dedicated herself to breaking down barriers to mental healthcare for underserved and marginalized groups. In 2022, she was selected as a Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services Fellow by the American Psychological Association. Sandra serves on the American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education Governance committee.
Counseling Psychologists “have a responsibility to provide quality, culturally competent mental health services that reach those who are disadvantaged and disenfranchised.”
Amazing Alumni: Shakira D. Abney-Wisdom
Bridging the Gap
Shakira completed the Ritchie Program for School Leaders in 2017 and is the Founding Principal at the Robert F. Smith STEAM Academy.
Shakira D. Abney-Wisdom completed the Ritchie Program for School Leaders in 2017. Her experience in the program was not only foundational for her subsequent doctoral studies, but “leads and guides the work” that she does now. Today, she is the Founding Principal at the Robert F. Smith STEAM Academy. The school, modeled after Historically Black Colleges and Universities, welcomed its inaugural class in 2021 and garnered regional and national attention.
The Robert F. Smith STEAM Academy seeks to “create a community of excellence where scholars are equipped to shape their futures as transformative change agents, innovators, and thought leaders.” Creating this experience and opportunity for students, particularly those of color, is necessary.
“There is a persistent erasure of the Black experience, of Latinx and Indigenous experiences in this nation and world. Our focus is to really center the experience of those of us who have been marginalized and minoritized. We are not, by nature of our existence, ‘less than’…
Our school’s existence is just an act of resilience and resistance to oppressive structures in society. This is a sanctuary, really, a safe space for our scholars to be all that they are, and to grow, to challenge themselves, to challenge one another, to accomplish the goals that they have.” - Shakira Abney-Wisdom (Denverite 2022)
Following her time in the Ritchie Program, Shakira carried with her a simple question: how do we bridge the gap between our espoused values and reality? Those at the Robert F. Smith STEAM Academy are helping to bridge gaps long neglected by many school systems. Providing rigorous and culturally responsive educational opportunities has the potential to not only empower young learners but benefit families, communities, and generations to come.
Student & Alumnx: Paulina Lerma
Driven to Make a Difference
Paulina, 2023 CO Teacher of the Year Finalist, is a C&I and Ritchie alumnx.
Paulina Lerma earned her Elementary Teacher Licensure and a Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction, with an emphasis on Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Education, in 2015. She returned to Morgridge in 2021 after teaching as an English Language Acquisition (Spanish) elementary school teacher for several years. In 2022, she completed the Ritchie Executive Leadership for Successful Schools Principal Licensure Program and was a finalist for Colorado’s 2023 Teacher of the Year award. Today, she is pursuing her EdD in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies.
Paulina recently accepted a position as Assistant Principal at South High School in Denver. She is known for her commitments to culturally responsive teaching and equity. Throughout her career, she has been dedicated to building strong relationships with students, their families, and community members.
We are proud of Paulina and cannot wait to see how her resounding resolve to advance equity impacts young learners for many years to come.
"My passion to serve became my engine to continue higher education and become a teacher."
Faculty in Focus: Dr. Cecilia Orphan
Dr. Cecilia Orphan is many things: an Associate Professor of Higher Education, a well-published researcher, the Director of Partnerships for the Alliance for Research on Regional Colleges (ARRC), an expert on Rural-Serving Institutions (RSIs), a public speaker, and a nationally recognized educational equity advocate.
In addition to publishing novel influential works in 2022, she:
- Met with congressional leaders to advocate for improved policies and funding for RSIs.
- Presented a TED Talk at TEDxMileHigh’s ASCEND event and helped to ensure that others learned about the crucial role of regional colleges.
- Was presented with the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education’s Helen C. Bailey award for making “a distinctive contribution to the field of education.”
- Invited to serve on the Technical Review Panel for the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education by the American Council on Education.
$6.6M New Grants
$15.1M Total Gift Funding
Faculty in Focus: Drs. Douglas H. Clements & Julie Sarama
Drs. Douglas H. Clements (James C. Kennedy Endowed Chair in Early Childhood Learning and Distinguished University Professor) and Julie Sarama (James C. Kennedy Endowed Chair in Innovative Learning Technologies and Distinguished University Professor) have made exceptional contributions to early childhood mathematics across the globe. From inspiring national curriculum standards to spearheading innovative efforts in rural communities, their research and work for the Marsico Institute for Early Learning has had transformational impacts near and far. This year, they were recognized as being among the most cited experts in the field of math education.
$14M in Current Grant Awards and $3.1M in New Grants (2022)
Their current grant-supported efforts include:
- Evaluating the Efficacy of Learning Trajectories in Early Mathematics ($3.4M, Institute of Education Science)
- Learning Trajectories as a Complete Early Mathematics Intervention: Achieving Efficacies of Economies at Scale ($3.9M, National Science Foundation)
- Integrated, Intelligent, and Interactive Technologies Building Young Children's Math Along Learning Trajectories ($1.9M, Institute of Education Science)
200+ Community Partners
Celebrating 20 Years
Ritchie Program for School Leaders
The Ritchie Program for School Leaders has been preparing school leaders that are “knowledgeable, highly-skilled, and relentless” in their dedication to excellence since 2002. The program, born of a partnership between a local school district and the Morgridge College of Education, has long been recognized as “a model of district-university collaboration for school leadership training.” Today, the program welcomes cohorts from school districts across Colorado and beyond with in-person, hybrid, and online learning experiences.
In 2022, alumni gathered to celebrate 20 years of excellence in partnerships, learning, advocacy, and leadership. More than 720 changemakers have participated in the program. A vast majority of grads have gone on to become district and school leaders. Many of our alumni thanked the Ritchie program for inspiring them, instilling in them the values of equity and collaboration, and shaping them as leaders. We thank each and every alum for the transformational impacts they make for students and communities every day.
A Community Connected: Transforming Access to Education & Program Quality
To us, excellence in education means much more than high-quality learning experiences. Excellence requires that we not only provide access to programs that prepare students for lives of impact but create pathways for equity of opportunity.
Our community strives to ensure that students are provided with state-of-the-art classroom technologies, diverse program options and learning modalities, and financial support.
Staff Showcase: Josh Davies
Problem Solving with Purpose
Josh Davies, Head of Information Technology for MCE, is dedicated to solving problems, elevating equity, and helping diverse communities flourish. Throughout his decade-long career at MCE, he has helped implement secure, accessible, and innovative technology solutions in service to community members “ranging from 6 months old to 98 years of age and harkening from every walk of life.”
During the height of the coronavirus pandemic, Josh worked tirelessly with his peers to ensure that MCE staff, students, and faculty could thrive in a newly remote reality. Emerging from the challenges of yesterday, he sees only opportunity. This is a time to innovate, embrace new technologies in order to create “engaging experiences for our students,” and create “better systems of learning.”
"Technology is a powerful tool for addressing accessibility and inequality in education."
Josh joined the MCE community in 2011 as a Library & Information Sciences student. During his time as a student, he completed two Graduate Assistantships, including one with the Information Technology Department. Thanks to his stellar skills and recent education, he was offered a permanent position upon graduation.
Over the years, he developed expertise across a wide variety of IT subjects. In his current role, he oversees the College’s technology landscape and a dedicated team of professionals.
We are grateful to Josh and our many staff members who envision and work towards a better tomorrow.
13:1 student:faculty ratio
63 Faculty Members
160 Professional Staff
Tenured / Tenure Track Faculty
Professor of Practice
College Leadership & Support Staff
Research Support Staff
Amazing Alumni: Dr. Matthew Brinton
Leading for Student Equity, Access, & Success
Dr. Matthew Brinton earned his Master’s in Higher Education at MCE in 2010. Since then, he has held a variety of impactful roles at Metropolitan State University of Denver, the University of Northern Colorado, the University of Texas at Tyler, and the University of Washington. In November 2022, he was selected to be UW’s new Director for Advancement (Student Life).
Throughout his career, he has been passionate about educational attainment and community. Driven by these core values, he has been a vocal advocate for fundraising, scholarships, and volunteerism in service to helping students thrive.
Dr. Brinton is an MCE donor, a member of DU's Alumni Council, and actively connects fellow graduates across DU's Seattle Network. He believes passionately in growing a network of strongly connected community members and alumni.
We congratulate Matthew on his new role and celebrate the innumerable impacts that he has made for college students, young learners in Washington, and communities near and far.