Category Archives: Alumni

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.

Brenda Blume (M. Ed. ’07)

Brenda Blume (M. Ed. ’07) accepted corporate marketing role focused on talent, learning & development, diversity, inclusion and community relations related efforts for the global supply chain company, C.H. Robinson. The role focuses on marketing our talent’s education, lifelong learning, giving back and the value that brings to our company and customers.

Brad Hokanson (Ph.D. ’00)

Brad Hokanson (Ph.D. ’00) has been elected president of the Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT). He will become president at the 2016 annual convention in Las Vegas this October. AECT is the premier international organization for educational technology, with over 2400 members world wide and affiliates in 21 countries.

Mark Falkowski (B.S. ’06)

Mark Falkowski (B.S. ’06) was recently announced by Columbia College as the college’s first general counsel. Falkowski will serve as a member of the college’s senior leadership team.

New U.S. Bank Stadium Features Artwork by Students Co-Taught by C&I Grad

Jenna Hubert and Andrea Greamba pose for a photo before their students’ artwork on display in the new Vikings stadium.

Andrea Greamba, who graduated in 2014 with an M.Ed. in Arts in Education, was part of the opening celebration at the new U.S. Bank Stadium featuring artwork from Minnesota natives. Greamba co-lead an art project as a student-teacher with Jenna Hubert of Waite Park Community School in Minneapolis. The project the students created was chosen as part of the permanent collection for the new stadium out of over 1,100 entries.

“I have always been impressed with the quality of art student-teachers that I receive from the U,” says Visual Specialist Hubert. “I tell everyone I know, that I will only take them if they are from the U of M.” Hubert has been working with the Department of Curriculum & Instruction’s Teacher Education program for several years and has had 15 students in the M.Ed. program teach in her classroom.

The co-teaching model is a unique aspect of the graduate teaching program that offers hands-on teaching and classroom experience designed to prepare graduates to hit the ground running once they receive their teaching license. Teacher candidates are paired with experienced, practicing teachers in the Twin Cities metro where they can put their coursework into action.

Well prepared by her classroom experience at Waite Elementary, Greamba has since joined Sky Oaks Elementary in Burnsville as an art teacher.

To learn more about the M.Ed.—Initial Licensure program in Arts in Education or other teacher licensure programs visit the Curriculum & Instruction department website. The priority deadline to apply for 2017 is December 15, 2016.