Spring 2021 Alumni Magazine message from Dean Kimberly A. Lawless

April 20, 2021

It’s hard to believe that we have gone beyond the one-year mark of the changes brought to education by the pandemic. As I write this, we are finishing up another semester of COVID-impacted teaching, learning and working, and we are preparing for both in-person and virtual commencement ceremonies.

I am so proud of our college community and how we all have worked together through these challenging times. You can read an update, including how we created spaces for our student teachers to teach remotely.

Through it all, we have continued our tradition of training incredibly talented and effective education professionals who are preparing to go out in the world and make their mark as teachers, policymakers, rehabilitation specialists, counselors and workforce educators. Some of our graduates also may find themselves thriving in unexpected careers, such as two of our alumni featured here.

We, as a college, are building upon our tradition of greatness, with a focus on ending persistent inequalities. We are looking at how we do what we do and striving to do it better. Part of that commitment includes hiring faculty who are as committed to “Changing education by educating for change” as we are.

In that light, I am so excited to welcome several new faculty members into our college for the next academic year who are focused on special education, the intersection of language and culture, trauma-based approaches to counseling, combatting addiction, and disparities in special education referrals and services.

Of course, the work our current faculty members are doing is having a positive impact as well. For example, Carla Zembal-Saul, professor of education (science education), is immersed in the work of a research partnership funded by the U.S. Department of Education. This project, “Science 20/20: Bringing Language Learners into Focus,” gives our pre-service teachers hands-on experience in teaching elementary students who are not native English speakers, and the students simultaneously engage in STEM enrichment projects and strengthen their English. It’s an amazing example of a true win-win, and you can read about it here.

You can read about other faculty research, including a revolutionary bilingual deaf program in France; improving education for rural youth; bridging the gap between research and policy; and redefining what it means to be a Professional Development School with an intentional focus on equity, antiracism and social justice; and research that has led to development of an app that can be used by people with disabilities to successfully navigate tasks such as grocery shopping.

This issue also includes an update on our diversity, equity and inclusion efforts here in the college. Read about the progress we have made on our equity agenda; how our faculty, staff and students are working together to build community through the Diversity and Community Enhancement Committee; and meet Jhan Doughty-Berry, the inaugural president of the Social Equity Alumni Network.

Our students and alumni also are pushing their limits. One young alumna is teaching in the northernmost city in the United States, Utqiagvik, Alaska, and one of our current students is teaching a for-credit course to her peers through the University’s Students Teaching Students initiative.

I continue to be amazed at the strength, resilience, dedication, determination and flexibility demonstrated by our students, faculty, staff and leadership team during this pandemic. It’s been their work that has helped us to thrive in these most challenging times, and it is because of this that it continues to be my pleasure to serve as your dean.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated April 21, 2021