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.

Netflix has officially announced a release date for its highly controversial “13 Reasons Why” – May 18 the show will hit Netflix queues and be available to watch. We want to take this opportunity to share resources if you or anyone you know is contemplating suicide. These resources are recommended by the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) as well as our own Counseling Psychology Department and Child, Family, and School Psychology Department.

Additionally, NASP has crafted a statement and guidance for the upcoming season. Its general recommendations include:

  • Provide the guidance developed by NASP for 13 Reasons Why, Season 1 to parents and educators.
  • Encourage parents to watch the series with their child; children and youth who view this series may need supportive adults to help process it. Help students articulate their perceptions when viewing controversial content. The difficult issues portrayed do occur in schools and communities, and it is important for adults to listen, take adolescents’ concerns seriously, and be willing to offer to help.
  • Caution against binge watching, as doing so with intense content, particularly in isolation, can be associated with increased mental health concerns.
  • Reinforce that school-employed mental health professionals such as school counselors, school psychologists, and school social workers are available to help.
  • Make sure parents, teachers, and students are aware of suicide risk warning signsAlways take warning signs seriously, and never promise to keep them secret. Establish a confidential reporting mechanism for students.
  • Reinforcing resiliency and protective factors can lessen the potential of risk factors that lead to suicidal ideation and behaviors. Once a child or adolescent is considered at risk, schools, families, and friends should work to build these factors in and around the youth.

If you are an educator and want more information about our alumna-designed suicide risk assessment app, click here.

Morgridge College of Education (MCE) had a robust presence at the 2018 Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (AERA) in New York City, April 13-17. More than 50 faculty and students presented papers, and four were recognized for Division and Special Interest Group (SIG) awards. AERA is a national community of education researchers, comprised of 12 divisions and over 155 special interest groups (SIGs).  The Annual Meeting serves as a forum for academic institutions, departments, non-university-based research institutions, and professional associations to share information about federal education research, and engage in shaping policy with regard to significant research issues. This year’s conference theme was “The Dreams, Possibilities, and Necessity of Public Education.”

MCE Award Recipients

  • 2018 AERA Division K Innovations in Research on Equity and Social Justice in Teacher Education Award: Maria Salazar, PhD, Higher Education Faculty
  • 2018 Shelby Wolf Literature SIG Outstanding Dissertation Award: Kimberly McDavid Schmidt, PhD, Assistant Clinical Professor
  • 2018 Leadership for Social Justice SIG Dissertation of the Year Award: Angelina Walker, EdD, Educational Leadership and Policy Studies Graduate
  • 2018 Family, School, and Community Partnerships SIG Dissertation of the Year Award: Kayon Morgan, PhD, Educational Leadership and Policy Studies Graduate

MCE Presenters

Educational Leadership and Policy Studies EdD student Geraldine “Gerie” Grimes was inducted into the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame on Wednesday, March 28, 2018. Grimes is the President and CEO of Denver-based nonprofit, The Hope Center, a community-based agency dedicated to meeting the needs of individuals with developmental disabilities, developmental delays, and persons in need of specialized educational or vocational services. She was nominated to the CWHOF because of her life’s work and dedication to the needs of others, especially women and women of color of all ages, building community and using her voice to be a strong advocate for the voiceless.

The stars were aligned when University of Denver (DU) Morgridge College of Education (MCE) hosted its 8th annual Gifted Education Conference and Policy Symposium earlier this year. The conference brought together leaders in the field of gifted education, most notable, Palmarium Award winner Dr. Marcia Gentry from Purdue University. Gentry gifted MCE with a scholarship for a K-12 student to attend Purdue’s renowned Gifted Education Resource Institute (GERI) Summer Residential Program. On March 14, Denver Public Schools (DPS) high school senior Emma Staples accepted Gentry’s scholarship and finalized her summer plans. Staples was chosen as the scholarship recipient by stakeholders from DU, DPS, and Purdue because of her outstanding track record advocating for the nature and needs of gifted people in multiple settings.

“We are incredibly grateful to Dr. Gentry for awarding this scholarship and for entrusting Morgridge with choosing its recipient,” said University of Denver Daniel L. Ritchie Endowed Chair in Gifted Education, Dr. Norma Hafenstein. “It is our mission to create a future where giftedness will be understood, embraced, and systemically nurtured. Dr. Gentry is not only exemplifying that mission through her work, but also working to make access to gifted education available with this scholarship.”

Staples is grateful for this opportunity. “I wouldn’t have had this option to go to [Purdue] and experience these classes without this scholarship,” she said. “I am also grateful to be meeting new people and talking to professors … working hands on with new experiences and people from around the world.”

Staples attends Denver East High School and is a proud participant of her gifted and talented program, led by MCE adjunct professor Brian Weaver. She is currently making college decisions and hopes to pursue academics related to her medical career goals in pediatrics (ER or Family Health). Staples advocates for equity and inclusion and has bravely spoken out about educational policy and philosophy on mediated student panels at the University of Denver (where she was directly observed by stakeholders of the scholarship gift), on camera on DPStv22’s Mile High Discussions, and with her school community at large. She shows extraordinary prowess not only as an academic, professional, and future doctor, but also as a kind and loving citizen of planet earth.

University of Denver Morgridge College of Education curriculum and instruction alumni and adjunct professor, Dr. Floyd Cobb was the February featured author for the Office of Development and Inclusion book chat. Cobb’s recent publication, Leading While Black, is a reflection of his experiences as an educator and inspired by his relationship with his father-in-law, the late Colorado State Rep. John Buckner, who had also been principal of Overland High School. Using the era of the Obama presidency as the backdrop for this work, Cobb illuminates the challenges and complexities of advocating for marginalized children who come from a shared racial heritage in a society that far too often are reluctant to accept such efforts.

In addition to teaching at Morgridge, Cobb is the Executive Director of the Teaching and Learning Unit for the Colorado Department of Education. His background as an educator gives him a solid foundation to support current leaders in education.


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