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.

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 will be launched later this month 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.

Children in rural America face a unique set of health and education disparities.  In comparison to urban students, rural youth demonstrate higher levels of mortality; suicide; obesity; tobacco, alcohol, and illegal substance use; drinking and driving; teen births; and carrying weapons. They also have lower rates of school readiness, proficiency on standardized tests, and math performance.

Tailored solutions are needed to address these challenges particularly since more than half of US school districts are located in rural settings. These and other challenges fueled MCE’s decision to launch the Center for Rural School Health & Education to be led by rural expert, Elaine Belansky, PhD.

Belansky is a community-based participatory researcher who has been working in rural, low-income schools for 19 years.  She studies how universities and communities can work together to make schools healthy places. Her team developed a strategic planning process called “Assess. Identify. Make it Happen.” (AIM) which helps schools implement school-based environment and policy changes that support physical activity, healthy eating, mental health, and school engagement and decrease bullying, high risk sexual behavior, and drug use. Currently, her team is partnering with rural schools in Colorado to create comprehensive health and wellness plans that ensure students are healthy, safe, engaged, supported and challenged.

Belansky has received over $13 million in grants from the CDC, NIH, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and The Colorado Health Foundation. She will begin her duties at Morgridge College May 1. Her six-person team will join her June 1. The research team includes:

  • Shannon Allen – Research Faculty
  • Ben Ingman – Research Faculty
  • Shirley Berg – Business Manager and AIM Facilitator
  • Jerry Jones – AIM Facilitator and Community Coordinator
  • Carla Loecke – Director of Curriculum and Training
  • Susan Portner – AIM Facilitator

The team of rural experts will engage rural school and community partners in Colorado and beyond to identify and address the most pressing issues facing rural education. The goal of the Center for Rural School Health & Education is to be the catalyst for achieving health and academic equity in rural communities across the nation.

Dr. Hitoshi Sato, associate professor at Fukuoka University in Japan, visited MCE this week as part of his government-funded research on teacher preparation in the U.S.

Sato selected MCE due to its CAEP accreditation and track record of teacher residency success.

“The University of Denver, Morgridge College of Education has one of the best and largest teacher preparation programs in the US, so I am really interested in how the program assesses the outcome of teacher candidates and assures the quality of programs, including how to respond to the requirement of CAEP standards,” Sato said.

Sato spent the day at Morgridge College interacting with faculty, staff and students around the topic of internal quality assurance and assessment within teacher preparation programs.

“It was great to visit with Dr. Sato and share some of our experiences building our teacher education program here at Morgridge,” said Dr. Jessica Lerner, Associate Professor of Practice and Director of Teacher Education. “I hope sharing what we have learned can improve the educational experiences of students in Japan, as I know we are grappling with some of the same issues.”

“Through this study, I am trying to lead some suggestions for Japanese teacher preparation especially at the level of teacher preparation program,” Sato said. “In Japan, the competition rate of our current hiring examination is decreasing, so the role of assuring the quality of teachers will be changed to teacher preparation level.”

Sato explained that of particular interest to the Japanese government is the teacher residency model.

“We have traditionally focused on teacher knowledge without a lot of emphasis on teaching practice and experience,” Sato said. “Japan is experiencing a growing achievement gap that is making teacher preparation a primary area of focus.”

Sato’s stop at MCE is part of his third year of research into the teacher preparation challenge. His fourth and final year will involve summarizing his findings into a report, which will be presented to the Japanese government to help inform their state-funded teacher education model of the future.

View photos from the visit in our Flickr album.

Marsico Institute for Early Learning post-doctoral research fellow Candace Joswick’s work was recently featured on the March 2018 issue cover of Mathematics Teacher, from the Council of Teachers of Mathematics. Joswick and her co-author, Dr. Anna A. Davis from Ohio Dominican University, offer insights and activities to use geometric constructs in art to teach math.

On Monday, February 19, 2018 the University of Denver (DU) Black Alumni Affinity Group (BAA), in conjunction with the Leadership Insights program, celebrated Black History month at Cableland, the official residence of Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, with a reception and conversation with Educational Leadership and Policy Studies (ELPS) alumni Nick Dawkins (ELPS MA ’16). Dawkins is a principal with Denver Public Schools (DPS) at Manual High school, a historically black school in the Whittier neighborhood in Denver. His public conversation with Dr. Frank Tuitt, professor of Higher Education at Morgridge and Senior Advisor to the Chancellor and Provost on Inclusive Excellence, was preceded by remarks from Denver Councilman Albus Brooks (MBA 16’), attending on behalf of Mayor Hancock.

This annual event is meant to engage DU’s communities of color by giving them an opportunity to ask questions and provide them with information regarding how the University is addressing issues of inclusive excellence through DU’s leadership and DU Impact 2025. Dawkins was the night’s featured conversationalist.

According to Dawkins, his education at Morgridge prepared him for his current role. He firmly believes in creating a culture of happy kids in his school. Many of his students face familial or personal deportation, homelessness, trauma, and other challenges in their daily lives. He worked hard to create a culture of access where his students know they can come to him with any trouble they are facing.

Recently, Dawkins himself was facing an exceptional challenge. In the fall during a high school football game, reports of racism and a rebel flag catapulted Dawkins and Manual High into the spotlight. As the he-said-she said grew, Dawkins discovered an ally in Morgridge and in DPS. Both the district and MCE stood by Dawkins as an exceptional leader who has the best interest of his students at heart.

Dawkins is a change agent. It is something he takes very seriously and he relentlessly challenges the status-quo in order to build better a future for his students.

“If I’m not in trouble,” he says, “I’m not doing my job.”

Educational leadership and policy studies PhD student Natalie Lewis has been selected by the University Council for Educational Administration (UCEA) as part of the 2017-2019 Jackson Scholars Program. The Jackson Scholars Program develops future faculty of color for the field of educational leadership and policy.

Lewis is the current Assistant Principal at McAuliffe Manual Middle School, part of the Denver Public School (DPS) system. A graduate of DPS Manual High School, Lewis is began her career as a substitute teacher in Philadelphia. Her experience led her to pursue an advanced degree in education in order to be a leader to underserved populations.

“I am excited, honored, and extremely privileged to receive this award,” Lewis said. “This sets me on a path to my ultimate goal to blend educational theory and practice.”

Lewis plans to utilize this program to create more equitable opportunities where educators can integrate research into their schools and classrooms.

The UCEA Barbara L. Jackson Scholars Network began in November 2003 after a vote of the members of the UCEA Plenum. The two-year program provides formal networking, mentoring, and professional development for graduate students of color intending to become professors of educational leadership.

UCEA facilitates the development of a robust pipeline of faculty and graduate students of color in the field of educational leadership. As a result, Barbara Jackson Scholars and Alumni enhance the field of educational leadership and UCEA with their scholarship and expertise.

The University of Denver (DU) Morgridge College of Education (MCE) announces Phillip Strain, PhD, will become the third James C. Kennedy Endowed Chair in Urban Education in the Teaching and Learning Sciences (TLS) Department. Strain is widely regarded as one of the nation’s leading researchers on autism and preschool inclusion. He is recognized for creating the LEAP model of inclusive services for young children with autism in 1981.

Strain, will be partnering with the two existing Kennedy Chairs, Doug Clements, PhD, and Julie Sarama, PhD, to

steer the Kennedy Institute for Educational Success at MCE.

“This is a game-changer for Morgridge College of Education,” says Dean Karen Riley. “Phil is the perfect complement to the nationally-recognized work that Doug and Julie are already doing in early childhood education. I expect a lot of energy to be generated from this high-level collaboration.”

As Endowed Chair, Strain will be responsible for conducting and guiding research and disseminating knowledge to improve the lives of children and families locally and nationally. He will also provide leadership to the MCE faculty, students, and community in curriculum development and research initiatives with an emphasis on finding solutions to 21st century challenges in teaching and learning in urban environments.

Select achievements of Strain’s include:

  • Authoring over 180 peer reviewed journal articles
  • Contributing to 47 book chapters
  • Writing 9 books
  • Receiving $85 million in sponsored grants

Strain’s most recent grants total over $4.7 million and will provide full research funding for the next four years.

Strain has served as a professor in Early Childhood Special Education, and the director of the Positive Early Learning Center (PELE) at the University of Colorado Denver. He and his PELE research team will join the  Morgridge College on July 1, 2018.

MCE’s  Counseling Psychology (CP) department has been identified as one of the top 20 PhD programs in the nation by Best Counseling Degrees. The ranking was created by compiling programs offering a doctoral degree in counseling psychology from the American Psychological Association (APA), along with the Examination for Professional Practice of Psychology (EPPP) pass rate gathered from the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB).

“We have always attracted people who strive to live lives of purpose, and to pursue careers of distinction,” says Jesse Owen, CP Department Chair. “I think this recognition speaks to the quality of these students, the customization of the program, as well as the diversity of our faculty research.”

Diverse faculty research is a hallmark of the CP department that affords students unique and enriching collaborative opportunities. Current faculty research areas include:

  • Multicultural counseling
  • HIV counseling
  • Psychotherapy research
  • Romantic relationships
  • Health psychology and health disparities
  • Group dynamics
  • Supervision and training
  • Vocational psychology and career development
  • Cancer survivorship

“I think one of our program’s greatest strengths is the collaborative atmosphere. We have been told from the beginning that each individual student will create their own path towards their career goals, and no two paths look exactly the same,” says CP PhD student Ellen Joseph. “Therefore, we as students are here to support each other and build relationships that we can maintain throughout our careers.”

Best Counseling Degrees is the No. 1 online resource for exploring and choosing from the nation’s best counseling degree programs that will develop the knowledge and skills needed to further a career in this helping profession. The site’s mission is to share expert information about the top counseling degrees to help people achieve their professional goals.

Drs. Doug Clements and Julie Sarama are co-directors of the Marsico Institute of Early Learning at the Morgridge College of Education. Clements,  previously a preschool and kindergarten teacher,  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. 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. The dynamic team sat down with a Media Planet Education and Career news reporter to give advice on how to make sure your child’s trajectory is one moving towards success.

The University of Denver’s (DU) Morgridge College of Education’s (MCE) Ricks Center for Gifted Children has received accreditation by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).

The accreditation comes from the largest nonprofit association in the United States representing early childhood education and reflects the highest professional standards for quality young children programs.

“Ricks Center for Gifted Children is committed to the accreditation process, which provides a framework for continuous improvement according to the highest standards of school performance.  NAEYC accreditation ensures top performance in our education of young children, including family support, teacher training, student safety, and community engagement.  Accredited by both NAEYC and AdvancEd, Ricks supports all of its students in realizing their full potential,” Anne Sweet, Ricks Center Director said.

Achieving NAEYC Accreditation is a four-step process that involves self-study, self-assessment, candidacy, and meeting and maintaining accreditation over a five-year period. Directors, teachers, and families all participate in the process. Programs are required to meet standards grouped into 10 areas: relationships with children, curriculum, teaching approaches, child assessment, nutrition and health, staff qualifications, relationship with children’s families, relationship with the community, physical environment, and program leadership and management.

“The Morgridge College of Education represents distinction in early childhood; from the Marsico Institute to the Fisher Early Learning Center to our Early Childhood Special Education programs, MCE serves as a leader,” said Dr. Karen Riley, Dean of Morgidge College of Education. “As such we want to ensure that we are meeting the highest standards for the children and families that we serve and that we are engaged in continual improvement.  NAEYC is the gold standard in this area and provides a framework to ensure exceptional quality and a means for thoughtful reflective practice.  This accreditation assures the families that we serve that we meet or exceed the highest of national standards and provides our graduate students with a model of excellence in the field.”

The Ricks Center for Gifted Children is operated by the Morgridge College of Education and is an extension of the College’s renowned work in the area of gifted education. In addition to providing a rigorous educational experience for gifted children from preschool to 8th grade, the model school also serves as an on-campus training and research facility for graduate students across the college including but not limited to school psychology, early childhood, curriculum and instruction and educational leadership.

The Office of the Daniel L. Ritchie Endowed Chair in Gifted Education at the Morgridge College of Education is pleased to announce Dr. Marcia Gentry as recipient of the 2018 Palmarium Award, an annual award given to an individual who most exemplifies the vision of the Office of the Daniel L. Ritchie Endowed Chair in Gifted Education. The office seeks a future in which giftedness will be understood, embraced, and systemically nurtured. Recipients of the Palmarium Award demonstrate the vision through understanding of giftedness in the areas of:

  • Practice by impacting graduate education, pre-service, and P-12 community
  • Outreach through advocacy at a variety of levels (local, national, international)
  • Publications informing teachers, children, parents, policy makers, and academia
  • Research influencing theory, practice, and policy

“Through the generosity of the Considine Family Foundation, the Palmarium Award provides professional acknowledgment and tangible support to eminent leaders in the field of Gifted Education,” said Norma Hafenstein, the Daniel L. Ritchie Endowed Chair in Gifted Education. “We are pleased to recognize Marcia [Gentry] for her visionary work in understanding the needs of this population and advocating for gifted children traditionally unrecognized.”

Gentry is a Professor of Educational Studies and directs the Gifted Education Resource Institute at Purdue University. Her research interests include student attitudes toward school and the connection of these attitudes toward learning and motivation; the use of cluster-grouping and differentiation to meet the needs of students with gifts and talents while helping all students achieve at high levels; the use of non-traditional settings for talent development; the development and recognition of talent among underserved populations including students with diverse cultural backgrounds including Native American youth, and children who live in poverty. She actively participates in NAGC and AERA, frequently contributes to the gifted education literature, and regularly serves as a speaker and consultant. She was the 2014 recipient of the prestigious National Association for Gifted Children’s Distinguished Scholar Award and has received multiple grants worth several million dollars in support of her work with programming practices and underrepresented populations in gifted education.

Gentry will receive her award and present the lunchtime address at the 8th Annual Gifted Education Symposium and Conference, “Talented Voices: Diversity and Equity in Gifted Education” at the University of Denver on Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018. Please visit the conference link for registration and other conference details. For more information about this award, visit the conference webpage.


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