Category Archives: Alumni

Kathleen Ridder (B.S. ’60)

Kathleen Ridder (B.S. ’60), passed away at 94. Kathleen Ridder was an advocate for women in education, sports, and politics. She volunteered on multiple boards of both nonprofit organizations and educational institutions. As a member of multiple U of MN boards she advocated for the women’s athletic program. Her financial contributions and being the prime supporter of the U of MN’s Ridder arena. The Ridder Arena is the first women hockey arena in the nation  She established the U of MN’s, Kathleen C. Ridder Scholarship. A scholarship for women in sports who a pursing a degree in wither medicine, science, or math. She wanted all women to be successful in sports, but most importantly in the business world.

Anita Beaton (Ph.D ’91)

Anita Beaton (Ph.D ’91), passed away at the age of 75 on March 11. . Anita earned her Master of Education in Early Childhood Education and Ph.D in Education from the University of Minnesota. She devoted her life to the advocacy of women and children. She was the director of the Montessori Lab School, professor at both the College of St. Catherine and Hamline University. During her teaching career she developed the Urban Teacher Program at Metro State University.  When she retired from teaching in 2007 she continues to work part-time at Metro State University. Also while volunteer at multiple schools.

C&I graduate, Jennifer Eik, receives 2017 Rising Alumni award

Jennifer Eik (left) and her collaborator, Jenna Cushing-Leubner.

Jennifer Eik, a graduate from the Department of Curriculum and Instruction in Second Language Education was selected for the prestigious Rising Alumni Award for 2017. The award is presented by the CEHD Alumni Society to a CEHD alum who has achieved early distinction in their career (15 years or less since graduation), demonstrated outstanding leadership or shown exceptional volunteer services in their community.

Eik is a Spanish teacher at Roosevelt High School where she has pioneered a new curriculum teaching Spanish as a heritage language, along with Ph.D. candidate in Second Language Education in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, Jenna Cushing-Leubner. Their work has been profiled in the MinnPost and has made a huge impact for students who speak Spanish at home or come from Spanish-speaking households. Eik’s Spanish Heritage curriculum spends the first year teaching students Spanish with a different historical perspective — one that delves into Latino ancestry, culture, and historical figures – and identity exploration.

“Students of color are yearning for curriculum that they can connect to,” Eik says, noting that it helps students to think of themselves in a more positive light when they hear stories of historical accomplishment and contribution from their communities and ancestry.

Cushing-Leubner believes that Eik’s contribution to the field of teaching Spanish as a heritage language, for both pre-service and practicing teachers, is “remarkable and certainly deserving of recognition. I’m sure Minneapolis Public Schools and Roosevelt High School are very proud of the tireless efforts and powerful impacts that she, her students, and her teacher candidates/mentees are making in the area of justice-oriented language education.”

Learn more about the teacher education programs in the area of Second Language Education in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction.



Special ed alum, Lembke, named Honorary Alumni by University of Missouri College of Ed

Erica Lembke

Erica Lembke, chair and professor of the Department of Special Education at the University of Missouri and an alumni of the Department of Educational Psychology’s special education program, recently was awarded an Honorary Alumni award by the University of Missouri College of Education.

Lembke, whose research focus centers on measurement, intervention, progress monitoring, and data-based individualization within content areas such as mathematics and writing, has been involved in $4.5 million in federal funding for research and training, has more than 40 publications, and has given more than 150 presentations at local, state and national conferences.

In addition, Lembke is active in her local and regional schools, as she provides support and technical assistance for individual teachers and administrators.

On the national level, Lembke serves as a Senior Technical Advisor for the National Center on Intensive Intervention, which advocates for federal special education technical assistance and policy for all U.S. schools. She is also the current editor of the Journal Assessment for Effective Intervention.

According to one of Lembke’s nominators, “I hope to emulate this very talented professor in every way, as she has truly made an impact on my professional development and career. Her unconditional support and tireless efforts to advise and mentor me continue to this day.”

Jean Ann Robertson (M.S.W. ’96)

Jean Ann Robertson (M.S.W. ’96), passed away on March 9, 2017, at the age of 66. Jean received her Master’s in Social Work from the University of Minnesota in 1996.  Jean had a 36 year career in social work. She dedicated her life to being the voice for the underrepresented.

Nancy Hohn (M.A. ’69)

Nancy Hohn (M.A. ’69), peacefully passed at age 91. Nancy  served in the Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (W.A.V.E.S) in World World II. After WWII, Nancy obtained her Master’s of Art Degree in Early Childhood from the University in 1969. She taught in Columbus City Schools during her teaching career. She was loving wife, friend, and grandmother who loved to travel around the world.

Sybel Haugen (M.Ed ’85)

Sybel Haugen (M.Ed ’85), passed away at age 93, on March 4, 2017.  She was one of the first teachers of Kasson-Mantorville region to obtain additional training in special.  In 1980, Sybel was recognized as the Teacher of the Year at Kasson-Mantorville. She always was recognized for Minnesota Teacher of Excellence and became semi-finalist for the Minnesota Teacher of the Year. She was a person who loved to travel. She traveled to many continents such as South America, Asia, Europe, Middle East, Australia, and more. She obtained her Master’s Degree in Education from the University of Minnesota in 1985.

Julie A. Critz (M.Ed ’93)

Julie A. Critz (M.Ed ’93), is the current Superintendent of the Alexandria Public Schools. Julie was recently awarded with the 2017 Kay E. Jacobs Memorial Award.  This award recognizes “excellent leadership and involvement in MASA and other educational organizations by an administrator who is a woman with ten or less years of school district central office experience”. Minnesota Association of School Administrators (MASA) is a professional organization of Minnesota’s school leaders and educators that are dedicated to educational leadership for students. MASA recognizes members for their contribution and hard work to public education. Julie Critz  earned her master’s degree in Elementary Education from the University in 1993.

John L. Hoffman (Ph.D ’00)

John L. Hoffman (Ph.D ’00) is being inducted by NASPA as a Pillar of the Profession on March 13, 2017. NASPA Foundation recognizes outstanding members of the student affairs and higher education community through the Pillars of Profession. The Pillars of Profession award honors individuals who have served as teachers, leaders, and scholars in the field and who have kept professional distinction in the higher education field, served leadership roles in NASPA, are recognized by colleagues, friends, staff, or student organizations for outstanding service, and have a significant lifetime contributions to the higher education field. Dr. Hoffman earned both his master’s degree in 1997 and Ph.D in Educational Policy and Administration 2000 from the University.

Five OLPD alumni win dissertation awards

Five alumni from the Department of Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development have recently won dissertation awards.

Matt Schuelka (EDPA PhD-comparative and international development education, 2014) has received the 2017 South Asia SIG Best Dissertation Award from the Comparative and International Education Society (CIES). His dissertation, entitled Constructing Disability in Bhutan: Schools, Structures, Policies, and Global Discourses, used a vertical (comparative) case study approach to explore the multiple levels of policy-making that have shaped inclusive education discourse and practice in Bhutan. This year-long ethnographic study, which involved participant-observation, interviewing, and critical policy analysis, has served as the basis for an edited book about education in Bhutan and numerous journal articles published by Dr. Schuelka during the past few years.

Anna Farrell (EDPA PhD-comparative and international development education, 2017) has received the 2017 Outstanding Dissertation Award from the Language Issues Special Interest Group from the Comparative and International Education Society (CIES). Her dissertation, entitled There Is No Nation without a Language (Ní tír gan teanga): Language Policy and the Irish Dancing Commission, raises important questions about how language policy affects cultural and political identity, particularly in post-colonial contexts like Ireland.  Dr. Farrell will be honored at the CIES meeting in March in Atlanta.

Leonard Taylor (EDPA PhD-higher education, 2016) is the First Place 2017 Doctoral Student Awardee bestowed by the American Association of Blacks in Higher Education (AABHE) for his dissertation entitled Organizational Learning for Student Success: Exploring the Roles of Institutional Actors.

Corbyn Smyth (EdD-higher education, 2016) has received the Dissertation of the Year Award from the Association of College Unions International (ACUI) for his dissertation entitled Where All May Meet on Common Ground: Elements of College Unions Evident in Campus Community. Dr. Smyth will be honored at the awards ceremony during the 2017 annual conference in Philadelphia held March 21st.

Molly Wickam (WHRE PhD, higher education, 2015) has received the Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation award from the Association for Research in Business Education (ARBE) for her dissertation entitled Enhancing Employability Skills in Graduate Business Programs: Service-Learning in Capstone Courses. Dr. Wickam will present at the 2017 Business Education Conference on April 12th.


OLPD alumna wins CIES outstanding dissertation award

Laura Willemsen, alumna (Ph.D. 2016) and lecturer in the Department of Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development (OLPD), has won the 2016-17 Gail P. Kelly Award for her dissertation, Embodying Empowerment: Gender, Schooling, Relationships and Life History in Tanzania.

This award of the Comparative and International Education Society (CIES) is conferred on an outstanding Ph.D. or Ed.D. dissertation that manifests academic excellence; originality; methodological, theoretical, and empirical rigor; and that deals with issues of social justice and equity in international settings. These issues may include—but are not limited to—gender, race, class, ethnicity, and nationality.

The committee wrote the following assessment of Dr. Willemsen’s dissertation:

“This is a solid piece of academic work engaging with ethnographic realities which clearly paints a scenario of gender disparity and the fundamental role that education should play in ameliorating the current status quo. It examines the role schooling has played in empowering young women from vulnerability toward increasing security and well-being. The study illustrates how school needs to include an element of care to be successful, particularly in marginalized women’s lives, underscoring how quality education moves beyond what can be measured through traditional indicators such as academic performance. Through her study, Willemsen critically engages with prominent discourses in the field of comparative and international education, for example the role of education in empowering of marginalized groups (here young women in a low-income country), yet also underscoring how the school is not necessarily the decisive factor in this empowerment, how additional forces, such as family, community and religion can play more prominent roles than education. Additionally, she put forward a critical perspective on the content of schooling, promoting a more holistic notion of education for the institution to at all be able to function as a factor for empowerment of marginalized groups. In this dissertation, the notion of empowerment as understood by researchers and development experts, and the role of education within it, is challenged through this dissertation and the young women populating it. The role of social justice is a cross-cutting issue in the dissertation by Willemsen. She also engages with central CIES discourses in a critical manner, something rather bold in a Ph.D. dissertation and in such a way contributing to academic excellence and originality.”

Laura Hageman (M.Ed. ’14)

Laura Hageman (M.Ed. ’14),  is one of the Prior Lake-Savage Area School District’s Teachers of the Year for 2016-2017 school year. This is Laura’s fourth year teaching at Five Hawks. Laura is highly active in several activities and committees at Five Hawks. She is currently on the BILT Leadership Team, Junior Naturalist Team, and E-STEM Team. Along with her participation with several activities and committees, she is currently planning a garden at Five Hawks to provide students with a hands-on learning experience.


Jeanne d’Arc Gomis (M.A. ’05)

Jeanne d’Arc Gomis (M.A. ’05), is the new Director of the Study Abroad Programs at Arkansas State University.  Jeanne d’Arc Gomis’s previous experience greatly prepared her for her new position. She has worked four years as the regional director of International Member Relations for International Student Exchange Programs,  also known as ISEP in Arlington, Virginia. In 2006, she worked six years as the study aboard adviser at Appalachian State University. At Appalachian State University she served four years as the assistant director of the International Student Exchange and Study Abroad department. In 2010, she became the interim director of the International Student Exchange and Study Abroad department.

Marsha Wilson (M.Ed ’11)

Marsha Wilson (M.Ed ’11), is a master teacher who wears all the hats — parent, social worker, teacher, nurse and she wears them all so effortlessly,’ said Principal Jeff Roland, Banfield Elementary School. Marsha Wilson is Austin’s top choice for 2017 Minnesota State teacher of the Year. She currently a fourth grade teacher at Banfield Elementary School. She has been teaching at Banfield since 1986.

Heidi Haugen (M.Ed ’97)

Heidi Haugen (M.Ed ’97), is a 2016 nominee for Minnesota Teacher of the Year. She currently a kindergarten teacher at Kenyon Wanamingo School. She has been working in Kenyon Public Schools since 1986. She is an advocate for reading. Through her passion for reading she created a book program that “has secured funding for a monthly book donation to students receiving food backpacks” (, 2016).

China Champions meet former U.S. Vice President Walter Mondale

vice-president-mondale-visit-1The 2016-17 China Champions were introduced to former U.S. Vice President Walter Mondale last evening at an event hosted by Peggy Lucas, member of the U of M Board of Regents and a supporter of the China Champions program. Mr. Mondale met each athlete individually and discussed his work in opening diplomatic doors to China and his many visits to the country.

Also attending the event were School of Kinesiology director Li Li Ji, Ph.D., and associate director Rayla Allison, J.D.

Mr. Mondale also served as a U.S. senator representing Minnesota and was appointed U.S. Ambassador to Japan by President Bill Clinton from 1993-1996.

Led by the U of M’s School of Kinesiology in collaboration with Beijing Sport University and supported by the Chinese government’s Scholarship Council, the China Champions program is a unique, global collaboration that provides mutual benefits for Chinese athletes and University faculty, staff and students.


Lisa M. Bolt (M.Ed. ’95)

Lisa M. Bolt (M.Ed. ’95) has published three middle grade “choose your path” sports novels (hockey, baseball, and soccer), over 20 nonfiction children’s titles, and an adult history book. She also teaches ESL to adults part time.

In memoriam: Clyde Parker

Clyde Parker

Clyde Parker graduated from the University of Minnesota with his Ph.D. in Educational Psychology in 1957. Upon graduation, Parker became an associate professor at Brigham Young University. He returned to the University of Minnesota in 1965 and served in a number of roles from 1965-1983, including: professor, Fullbright Lecturer, and department chair.

Anna Duran, one of Parker’s Ph.D. student advisees and now president of Avatar Research Institute, considers him to be one of the key people who helped her to develop her professional identity. “Clyde was one of those professors who influenced the thinking of so many of his students and who also was the quintessential supporter of developing talent of people from diverse backgrounds,” she remembers. “He left a premier legacy of educational psychology professionals who went on to make extensive contributions to whatever fields that they pursued.”

Read Clyde Parker’s full obituary here.