Category Archives: Faculty

Gunnar elected to membership in the National Academy of Education

Dr. Megan Gunnar

Megan Gunnar, Ph.D., director of the Institute of Child Development, has been elected to membership in the National Academy of Education (NAEd).

The NAEd aims to advance high-quality education research and its use in policy and practice. The academy consists of 209 U.S. members and 11 foreign associates who are elected on the basis of outstanding scholarship related to education. Gunnar was one of 14 new members elected to membership this year.

As an NAEd member, Gunnar will play a role in NAEd’s professional development programs and serve on expert study panels that address pressing issues in education.

Gunnar will be inducted during a ceremony for new members at the 2017 NAEd Annual Meeting in November.

Boss: “No such thing as ‘closure’ in relationships”

Pauline BossIn an interview with NPR, Department of Family Social Science professor emeritus Pauline Boss said there is no such thing as “closure” when relationships end.

This  month NPR featured Boss in a segment of On Being with Krista Tippett titled “The Myth of Closure.”

According to the Orlando Sentinel,  Boss placed emphasis on the importance of remembering loved ones, and that actively trying to “get over” a death or failed relationship often prevents people from being able to do just that.

Boss also praised CNN anchor Anderson Cooper for putting “closure” in its proper place in the media when interviewing survivors and family members after tragedy.

“I know from his own biography that he knows what loss is, and he understands that there is no closure. He’s the only reporter I’ve ever heard explain that in the line of his work, and I think the rest of us have to do a better job of it, too.”

Boss coined the term “ambiguous loss” for her pioneering research on what people feel when a loved one disappears. However, she says, “We have to live with loss, whether clear or ambiguous, and it’s okay.”

Listen to “The Myth of Closure” on NPR here.

Read the Orlando Sentinel article here.

Learn more about Pauline Boss and her research interests here. 

Serido helps students and families make better decisions about financing higher education

Professor Joyce SeridoDepartment of Family Social Science associate Professor Joyce Serido teamed up with Extension educators across the state to create a pilot program that helps students and families make better choices about financing higher education.

The program began in January, and Serido will meet with Extension educators in February to fine tune the program to make it accessible to various groups statewide.

Read more about Serido’s work in Source Magazine.

Learn more about Serido’s research on her profile page.

Learn more about personal finance and financial education resources.

Walker’s article selected as best paper by FCSRJ

The Family & Consumer Sciences Research Journal selected FSoS associate professor Susan Walker’s article “Family Educators’ Technology Use and Factors Influencing Technology Acceptance Attitudes” as the best paper in family and consumer sciences education published by the journal in 2015.

FCSRJ chose her article for the following reasons: the topic is original, the research design and methodology demonstrate high standards, and the article has the potential to make a lasting contribution to the theory and/or practice in family and consumer sciences.

Walker’s article is one of seven published by FCSRJ in 2015 to be recognized. The journal published a total of 28 articles in 2015.

Read the article here.

Learn more about Walker’s research on her profile page.

McGuire says the earlier gender is addressed with children, the better

Professor Jenifer McGuire In a MinnPost article, Department of Family Social Science associate professor Jenifer McGuire stressed the importance of an inclusive approach when it comes to gender, and said the sooner we can talk to children regarding gender, the better.

Read the article here.

Learn more about McGuire and her research interests here.

The key to effectively blending families? “Intentional parenting,” Doherty says in WSJ article.

Professor Bill DohertyIn a Wall Street Journal article, Department of Family Social Science professor Bill Doherty discussed the necessity for having a plan when it comes to parenting children in blended families.

Read the article here.

Learn more about Doherty and his projects here. 

Harris shares coping strategies for children dealing with divorcing parents

HarrisSteve150In a US News and World Report article, Department of Family Social Science professor Steve Harris stressed the importance of preserving children’s mental health as parents divorce, and shared coping strategies for divorcing parents hoping to avoid long-term emotional effects on their children.

Read the article here. Also, read about the Minnesota Couples on the Brink project.

Recently published ebook examines how digital stories enhance teaching and learning

The_Changing_Story_Book-Jacket-CoverThe Changing Story: Digital Stories that Participate in Transforming Teaching and Learning is available for download now. Developed by PsTL’s Linda Buturian over the last three years with CEHD’s Susan Andre and Thomas Nechodomu, the ebook examines how digital story assignments encourage students to deeply engage with subjects, and create a stronger sense of ownership of their academic work.

The Changing Story provides educators with assignments, resources, and examples to use in teaching and learning. It also assists educators in examining ways digital stories can be used in current teaching practices to help students harness the power of visual storytelling.

Access a downloadable, free copy of the ebook here: The Changing Story.

Jehangir, Stebleton and Deenanath publish monograph on the Impact of First-Generation, Socioeconomic, and Immigrant Status on Transition to College 

RR5_Cover896x1346Rashné Jehangir and Michael Stebleton, both associate professors in the Department of Postsecondary Teaching and Learning, and Veronica Deenanath, doctoral student in Family Social Science have published a monograph on  research conducted with first-generation, low-income students at the University of Minnesota. The monograph is part of a research report series published with the  National Resource Center for the First Year Experience and Students in Transition at the University of South Carolina.

 

Excerpt: In January 2014, the White House urged that college be made more accessible for low-income Americans. Yet, moving beyond access to success requires knowing more about the experiences of these students. A new research report captures the challenges low-income, first-generation students—many of whom were also immigrants and students of color—faced in their collegiate journey and examines the strategies they employed to persist.

Organized thematically and using student narrative, the report explores the diversity of first-generation students, the intersections of their multiple identities, and their interactions with the institutional agents that affect college success. An Exploration of Intersecting Identities of First-Generation, Low-Income Students also offers practical suggestions for higher education professionals working with this diverse and growing population.

A passion for writing reaches full bloom each summer.

Gary Peter takes a break from writing to explore the ruins of Ostia Antica outside of Rome.
Gary Peter takes a break from writing to explore the ruins of Ostia Antica outside of Rome.

Whether as an artist-in-residence in Italy or during self-directed sojourns to the North Shore, Gary Peter, Senior Teaching Specialist in PsTL, reserves summer vacation to further his vocation as a creative writer.

It’s a practice he began while finishing his MFA in Creative Writing at Sarah Lawrence College, prompted by the welcomed parental directive of his thesis advisor. Peter recalls her guidance: “Well, the next thing you have to do is go to a residency.” That summer he spent three weeks at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, a place his former advisor still attends. Every year Peter seeks out at least one or two residencies a summer. “You apply. You hope you get in,” he states humbly.

In 2015, Peter secured two, highly coveted and prestigious appointments: One as a Visiting Artist at the American Academy in Rome, and the other, an invitation to the Sewanee Writers’ Conference hosted by the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee. His summer goals were to complete a fifth draft of his novel about dairy farm life, and garner inspiration for a story partially set in Rome.

Exploring in Rome

During his residency, the open structure of the American Academy’s program granted Peter the freedom to explore his craft and Italy’s capital. “I would try to use the mornings for work, for writing,” says Peter, choosing the Academy’s sun-lit, wood-paneled library filled with architecture and art history volumes over his monastic private quarters. In the afternoons he toured the city. “I had the space to experience things. To take the risk of exploration, a kind of willingness to let yourself get lost.”

Sharing a meal with fellow visiting artists at a favorite restaurant.
Sharing a meal with fellow visiting artists at a favorite restaurant.

Peter met up with another visual artist at the Academy who guided him on tours of churches she came to Italy to visit. While trying to locate a particular church, a city resident walking his dog kindly offered directions, but also clued them into a lesser-known local treasure. “The church wasn’t in any guide books and wasn’t on Hilary’s extensive list. We just stumbled upon it,” Peter remembers. “It was very austere, with frescos you could tell were quite ancient. And, no one else was there, just us.” In the simplicity and solitude, the pair embraced a profound sense of peace amid the bustling, tourist-filled city outside. “We spent an hour there because we couldn’t tear ourselves away. It was just so beautiful.”

This unexpected delight triggered reflection for Peter. “In terms of my own writing, I’m always trying to manage it and control it,” he admits. “I still think of that church, and our chance of finding it.” His experience demonstrated the value of surprise in writing, and in life. “It’s kind of the same, letting go of the need to control things in your environment.”

Fully scheduled in Sewanee

In contrast to Rome, at the Sewanee Writers’ Conference time is earmarked sun up to sun down with craft lectures, workshops, readings and receptions. Picture an intellectually themed, adult summer camp for prize-winning and promising poets, fiction writers and playwrights. Instruction from the distinguished Conference faculty, along with editors and agents, encompasses the literary spectrum from idea development to publishing, and benefits writers with a cross-pollination of disciplines. “The playwright Paula Vogel gave the most amazing lecture on playwriting, but so much of it was relevant to writing in general,” Peter says. “She’s an incredibly dynamic person.”

At open readings, writers shared their work with attendees in the cheerful atmosphere of the campus pub. Despite being a bit unnerved by the prospect, Peter took the plunge. “I read a very short piece, and it went over really well. People came up to me afterwards and said, ‘I didn’t know you were so funny,’” says Peter.

Peter with his workshop group at the Sewanee Writers' Conference.
Peter with his workshop group at the Sewanee Writers’ Workshop

At Sewanee, workshops were held every other day and off days were spent reading for the next. “There were fifteen people in my workshop and each person had their work read and critiqued by the entire class,” Peter recounts. The peer review was augmented by a one-on-one conference with the workshop faculty that Peter found highly useful, although a challenge to his novel draft deadline before classes start. “I came away from Sewanee thinking, ‘Boy, that was really good, but I still have a lot of work to do.’”

A personal choice

Peter’s commitment to summer residencies and writing retreats originates from his early experience and demanding teaching schedule during the academic year. He values the minimal distractions, space and support of regular meals, but he realizes the practice is not for everyone. “I have writer acquaintances and friends who do just fine writing from their kitchen table,” he says. “For some people it’s wonderful, and for others it’s very intimidating to not have structure. You need to be open to the time, but also have a sense of what you want to do with it.”

Recognizing talent

During the school year in his academic writing courses, Peter wants to encourage creativity but also be mindful of the expectations and conventions of research-focused writing. When opportunities for voice and reflection present themselves, Peter looks for moments when he can help students realize their abilities. “When I can say to someone, ‘You write with a great style.’ That’s always nice when that happens.”

Perhaps sharing the gift of recognition is exactly how the judges of the highly esteemed 2015 Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction feel about Peter. His collection, Oranges, was shortlisted for this year’s honor.

The breathtaking city view from the American Academy in Rome.
The breathtaking city view from the American Academy in Rome.

Peter shortlisted for Flannery O’Connor Award

PeterG-2007Gary Peter, senior teaching specialist in the Department of Postsecondary Teaching and Learning, was recently shortlisted for the prestigious Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction. His collection, Oranges, was selected as a finalist among nearly 400 submissions in the 2015 competition.

More than fifty short-story collections have appeared in the Flannery O’Connor Award series from the University of Georgia Press, which was established to encourage gifted emerging writers by bringing their work to a national readership.

For further insight into the selection process, Karin Lin-Greenberg, 2013 Flannery O’Connor Award winner for Faulty Predictions, shares her perspective on judging manuscript submissions.

In addition to impressive recognition for the Flannery O’Connor Award, Oranges was named a finalist in the 2013 New Rivers Press Many Voices Project competition, and a semifinalist for the 2014 St. Lawrence Book Award.

Teaching award winner Rashné Jehangir is an interdisciplinary scholar and passionate student advocate

jehangir-OS-2015

“Where are you from?” “Where did you grow up?”

When Rashné Jehangir recalls questions she’s been asked throughout her adult life, her voice shifts. Her signature energetic cadence slows, and her passionate timbre softens to a reflective curiosity as she envisions the inquirer’s mindset.

Born and raised in Mumbai, India, Jehangir first encountered similar questions as a freshman in Wisconsin. Her early experiences in Lawrence University’s freshmen studies program shaped an interest in interdisciplinary learning, where student and faculty could be co-learners in the classroom.

Now an associate professor in the Department of Postsecondary Teaching and Learning (PsTL), Jehangir’s lived experience nurtures a deep appreciation for the students she teaches and also fuels her research focus.

“I have an understanding of what it means to be an outsider in different ways,” she says. “The idea of not quite fitting in, and having to figure that out—this is where I feel really connected with students.”

Jehangir is committed to cultivating classroom communities where students can grapple with and interrogate big questions and learn from the lived experiences of others. Students feel connected to her, as well.

“I credit Rashné for being my academic fairy godmother,” says former student Kafia Ahmed, “seeing something in me I couldn’t yet see in myself—a capable and dynamic young woman.”

“The class I took with Rashné was one of the most memorable because she focused on creating a community in the classroom, and fostered open discussions about difficult topics like race, colonialism, and structural oppression,” says former student Abigail Schanfield.

Creating moments of advocacy and agency is central to Jehangir’s teaching philosophy. Helping students—especially students who are first in their families to attend college—recognize the strengths they bring to the academy while reinforcing their aptitude for walking in multiple worlds is a driving force for her. This year, she became a recipient of the University’s highest teaching honor, the Morse-Alumni Teaching Award.

“Our job is to help them translate strengths—that’s where the deep, ‘heart work’ is involved,” says Jehangir.  “There is head work, and there’s heart work—both intellectual and relational.”

From career counselor to the classroom

Teaching came to Jehangir through a chance opportunity. She began her career as a counselor advocate in the University’s TRIO program at a time when Bruce and Sharyn Schelske were creating learning communities for students in the program. Bruce invited her to teach a one-credit class, and the experience shifted the entire trajectory of her career and her life.

“Once I was in the classroom I thought, ‘This is what I’m supposed to do’,” Jehangir remembers.

Her class was linked to another taught by LeRoy Gardner, Jr., that explored multicultural relations and relationships, specifically race, class, and gender issues in the United States.

“The types of conversations, the types of reflections on identity of self and others we were able to have [in the classroom] was unbelievable,” she says. Realizing these were the conversations and questions she wanted to explore as a teacher and researcher, Jehangir began pursuing her Ph.D. while working full time in TRIO. Her dissertation work was built around creating learning communities with seasoned faculty members Patrick Bruch and Patricia James.

“We had different languages from a disciplinary perspective,” says Jehangir. But the three established powerful points of connection: Identity, community, and social agency were the three themes that bound their work. Through experimentation, their curriculum included capstones of theater performances and class-driven murals, some still on the walls of Burton Hall.

Those early learning communities served as a springboard to her leadership role in developing CEHD’s successful interdisciplinary First Year Experience Program.

“It was a really joyous, challenging, messy time,” she says, reflecting on the work in which she and her PsTL colleagues engaged to design the program. “I think that’s as it should be when there is space to be creative and innovative about pedagogy.”

The power of story

As a qualitative researcher, Jehangir’s well-known and highly regarded work examines the stories and experiences of first-generation students, many of whom are also immigrants and people of color. Their narratives unlock the potential for understanding and advocacy, and she is reverent in maintaining the authenticity of their voices.

“They are in essence giving you the power to tell their story in a way that can influence agency, whether it’s changing how people see first-generation students, or changing how counselors work with first-generation students, or changing policies that might exist.”

This commitment to untold stories forms the basis of Jehangir’s own first-year curriculum, where students read diverse narratives examined from historical, sociological, and literary frames. In one early assignment, she invites students to explore personal narratives through a biographical object, asking students to reflect on and publically share an object that represents their experiences and identities. She participates in the assignment, too—“If they’re going to do it, I’m going to do it,” she says, referring to a practice embedded in her teaching since her work with James and Bruch.

Jehangir’s biographical object is handwritten letters from her father, scripted in fountain pen on white paper. Received during her undergraduate  years in Wisconsin, the letters forged a connection and bridged the geographical divide.

“My father was a great storyteller and he was really unconventional and funny and irreverent,” she says. “I had the kind of dialogue with him in letters that I probably would never have had if I had gone to college at home.

“He wrote letters like stories, so I could picture things at home that I missed,” she continues. “They carried my history with me, and they were tactile in that I could smell a little bit of home in them.”

Jehangir keeps the treasured letters within reach of her office chair, knowing they contain the grace, humor, and strength of her father, who passed away shortly before she graduated from Lawrence.

“The capacity to laugh at yourself, but also honor who you are and where you came from, all of that is in those letters,” she says.

As a teacher and researcher, Jehangir helps students honor who they are and where they came from, while avidly paving support for where they hope to go.

A dynamic partnership enriching intercultural student development.

Rhiannon Williams and Amy Lee celebrate the publication of their latest book.
Rhiannon Williams and Amy Lee celebrate the publication of their latest book.

Through the design, assessment and refinement of CEHD’s highly regarded first-year-experience program, professor and chair of the Department of Postsecondary Teaching and Learning, Amy Lee, and research associate, Rhiannon Williams, began a collaboration that’s evolved into a dynamic partnership: one deeply committed to enhancing holistic student development by supporting academic professionals who are directly and indirectly serving undergraduate students.

Lee and Williams bring complementary strengths to their work. Williams values Lee’s innovation, leadership and feministic critical background, and Lee credits Williams’ assessment skills, intercultural perspective and openness as vital. “I don’t feel I could do what I’ve done without Rhiannon,” says Lee. “Especially considering how rooted our work has been in the first-year program, and the diversity of the students we serve. That’s what brought us into thinking about holistic curriculum and co-curriculum to propel student development.” Williams adds, “Amy’s really gotten me to think with a critical lens and how that looks in terms writing.”

Together, they’ve authored numerous articles and three books motivated by the data collected from assessment of the FYE program, applying different perspectives to intercultural collaborations and how these can be supported, developed, thought about across multiple disciplines and bodies of literature. “We’re really trying to be interlocutors, bridging discourse communities,” says Lee.

Their first book, Engaging Diversity In Undergraduate Classrooms: A Pedagogy For Developing Intercultural Competence (2012) co-authored with Robert Poch and Marta Shaw, moves past the FYE program, incorporating scholars and scholarship from across different fields, to present a macro lens on lessons learned from engaging diversity broadly in the classroom.

In their recently published, edited volume, Internationalizing Higher Education: Critical Collaborations Across The Curriculum (2015), Lee and Williams push beyond theoretical frameworks to offer faculty, administrators and advisors an exploration of intercultural learning through applications in a variety of contexts. “We felt there were few publications with examples of how internationalizing the curriculum was being enacted,” says Williams. “We wanted to show how institutions are supporting this work and how it looks in an actual classroom.” Contributing chapters from practioners across a wide spectrum of disciplines, geographies and institutions candidly examine different ways intercultural perspectives have been integrated into their programs, including the tensions and opportunities of internationalizing the curriculum in a holistic manner. “The higher education academy has such a premium on scholarly identity, but teaching is still under the radar,” says Lee. “We wanted to give our book a more useful, purposeful form.”

According to Lee, their third book is even bolder. Set for publication in 2016, Intercultural Pedagogy:  Equity And Global Citizenship In Contemporary Classrooms, co-authored with Catherine Solheim and Adam Jagiello-Rusilowksi, continues to support practioners and get faculty thinking: How can we come together in this larger intercultural work? “We are trying to pull people together to collaborate and support the structures and spaces that are going to develop students’ intercultural skills so students are able to use them in the workplace and society,” says Williams.

In addition to blending theory with application, Lee and Williams are also interested in disseminating the voices of colleagues and students. “Students are a source of great expertise on their own experience and needs and they are not consulted in real ways in a lot of research, and the same is true with teachers,” remarks Lee. “We’re trying to value and enfranchise the wisdom of the people we’re trying to reach or support.”

Based in themes of inclusion and equity, their work refuses the common dichotomy of writing for teachers or scholars, writing for domestic or international audiences. For Lee and Williams, the student is at the center of a higher ed. institution for everyone, and their work reinforces this position. “Our work is always about the students,” says Lee. “But in order to support the students, you need to further the knowledge, understanding and capacity of the people to support their students’ development.”

Williams adds, “Whether you’re an administrator, faculty, advisor or whatever role you have, there are ways to collaborate and engage in intercultural work within your smaller space. It doesn’t need to come from the top down and it doesn’t have to look one way, it’s an ongoing process.”

Supporting University Faculty and International Students With Intercultural Pedagogy Development Workshops

PsTL’s Molly Rojas Collins, Rhiannon Williams, Jill Trites and graduate student Sumitra Ramachandran have received funding from the International Student Academic Services Fee to develop and facilitate a professional development cohort experience to support University faculty who are teaching international students in blended classrooms of international students and domestic students. From research conducted by PsTL faculty and a graduate student in the fall of 2014, faculty expressed a need for having the resources and training to support international students in their classrooms.

Through Intercultural Pedagogy Development Workshops and sustained engagement, faculty from across the University will be encouraged to look for changes they can make based on best practice research and principles of universal design for international students, share their struggles with each other, and receive support and practical strategic advice from experts. Faculty will be given pedagogical resources they can begin to integrate, test, and modify within their own classrooms. In addition, they will gain a greater awareness about various institutional supports for both international undergraduate students and faculty seeking to support international students’ learning and development.

The Intercultural Pedagogy Development cohort program will be open to all University faculty. The program will launch in Fall 2015. For more information, or if you are interested in participating, please contact Molly Rojas Collins at colli038@umn.edu.

Tania D. Mitchell receives AAUW American Fellowship

MitchellT-2012Tania D. Mitchell, associate professor in the Department of Postsecondary Teaching and Learning, was selected to receive an AAUW American Fellowship for the 2015-16 fellowship and grant year. AAUW provides one of the world’s largest sources of funding for graduate women and the awards are highly competitive. Candidates are evaluated on the basis of scholarly excellence; quality and originality of project design; and active commitment to helping women and girls through service in their communities, professions, or fields of research.

The oldest and largest of AAUW’s fellowships and grant programs, the American Fellowships program began in 1888, a time when women were discouraged from pursuing an education. Now one of the largest sources of funding for graduate education for women, AAUW has provided more than $90 million to upwards of 11,000 fellows and grantees since awarding its first fellowship to Ida Street, a pioneer in the field of early American Indian history. Previous recipients include Susan Sontag and Judith Resnick.

Lee and Williams publish edited volume on internationalizing higher education, co-author chapter for Polish colleague’s book.

Lee-Williams Ed. VolumeAmy Lee, professor and chair of the Department of Postsecondary Teaching and Learning, and research associate, Rhiannon D. Williams, are co-editors of the recently published volume, Internationalizing Higher Education: Critical Collaborations Across The Curriculum, available from Sense Publishers, Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

Developed for current and future faculty, student affairs staff, and administrators from diverse disciplinary, institutional, and geographic contexts, this edited volume invites readers to investigate, better understand, and inform intercultural pedagogy that supports the development of mindful global citizenship. The book features reflective practitioners exploring the dynamic and evolving nature of intercultural learning as well as the tensions and complexities. Contributors include institutional researchers, directors and key implementers of EU/Bologna process in Poland (one of the newest members and one that is facing unprecedented change in the diversity of its students), international partners in learning abroad programs, and scholars and instructors across a range of humanities, STEM, and social sciences.

Lee and Williams also co-authored the chapter, “Designing Intercultural Interactions: Students’ Reflections on a Personal Narrative Assignment” in the edited volume titled: Education and Creativity (2014). The volume was edited by a Polish colleague, Elzbieta Osewska, and published by Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University in Warsaw, Poland.Education and Creativity

 

Poch presents paper at annual meeting of Organization of American Historians

PochRobert-2014Bob Poch, senior fellow and director of graduate studies in the Department of Postsecondary Teaching and Learning, presented a paper at the annual meeting of the Organization of American Historians in St. Louis, Missouri. Poch’s paper, “Strangers in the Land — Again: The Historical Connection of Interposition and Race before and during Arizona’s Immigration Battle,” argued that Arizona’s contemporary immigration strategy has strong historical connectivity with U.S. Civil War era tensions between state and federal authority and also nativist movements of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

In addition, Poch’s article, “Howard University Students and Civil Rights Activism, 1934-1944,” has been accepted for publication in the American Educational History Journal. The article will appear in Summer 2015.

PsTL’s Gary Peter invited to American Academy in Rome

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAGary Peter, senior teaching specialist in the Department of Postsecondary Teaching & Learning, has been invited to be a visiting artist at the American Academy in Rome (AAR) for a three-week residency this summer. The AAR provides opportunities for artists and scholars from around the world to work on creative and academic projects, engage with other artists and scholars, and participate in the vibrant cultural life of Rome.

Kendeou named ‘Most Promising Advisor’ by the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly

kendeouPani Kendeou, associate professor in psychological foundations of education with the Department of Educational Psychology, has been selected to receive the 2015 Advising and Mentoring  – Most Promising Advisor Award by the Graduate Student Assembly (GAPSA). The award will be presented to her in a ceremony on May 7 at Coffman Memorial Union.

According to GAPSA, the Advising and Mentoring award acknowledges University of Minnesota advisors’ efforts to help and advise students. One of the youngest advisors to receive this award, Dr. Kendeou was nominated by her students for her commitment to their personal and professional success.

Kendeou joined the Department of Educational Psychology in 2013 from the Neapolis University Pafos, Cyprus. She is associate editor of the Journal of Educational Psychology and serves on the editorial boards of Scientific Studies of Reading, Contemporary Educational Psychology, Learning and InstructionDiscourse Processes, and Reading Psychology. She is also a member of the European Association of Research in Learning and Instruction (EARLI), the American Educational Research Association (AERA), the Society for Text and Discourse (ST&D), the Society for the Scientific Study of Reading (SSSR), and the Psychonomic Society.

A career of inclusion and impact: Celebrating Jeanne Higbee.  

HigbeeRetirement
Jeanne Higbee, second from right standing, poses with former students and advisees at her retirement celebration.

After more than forty years in higher education, Jeanne Higbee, Ph.D., retired from teaching in the Department of Postsecondary Teaching and Learning at the University of Minnesota, College of Education and Human Development. In tribute to her service, PsTL asked Higbee to share career moments in this Q&A, and invited thoughts and recollections from those who know her as a colleague, mentor and partner.

As you reflect on your career. What surprised you most about the journey and what did you find most rewarding?

JH: If I look over my entire career, what surprised me most is that I entered this career planning to be an administrator, and the higher I moved up in administration the less I wanted to do that because it meant I wasn’t with students anymore. I would see an occasional student at committee meetings or in some other formal settings, but I didn’t have that regular contact with students and that’s why I moved to a faculty position. For me, definitely the most rewarding piece of this has always been the direct work students, whether it’s been in the classroom, as a counselor and advisor working closely with students in those kinds of settings or co-presenting with graduate students and mentoring them. By far, the most fulfilling aspect of my career is the direct contact with students.

If I think about other things, what’s been surprising is that many faculty, especially at research universities, would not put teaching first-year students high on their priority list. For most of my career, once I moved into the faculty ranks, I was teaching almost exclusively first-year students with an occasional grad class here and there or an occasional other course that might involve students across the undergraduate years.

I loved teaching first-year students. I wish more faculty would open themselves up to the joy of the kinds of developing minds you encounter when teaching first-year students.

Tell me about the light bulb moment with students: When all the sudden someone’s life changes because of his or her educational experience.

JH: There have been so many I’ve witnessed because I’ve worked in programs that serve students from historically underserved populations and students who might not have anticipated years before that they would even attend college. One of my favorite kinds of light bulb moments is when a student will realize just how smart he or she really is. When all of a sudden a student realizes, “I can do this. I am very capable. I understand this. Now I look at myself in a different light and I think differently about my career goals.” That’s one of the things that always excited me. That moment when students become invested in learning; highly motivated. Sometimes a student won’t necessarily enter the institution that way. Sometimes they know they want to go to college, but they aren’t sure what they want to do, or they start college with a major that, in essence, somebody else selected for them. But, when they find that one thing they love and want to delve into it, all of a sudden they are inspired to do so much more. When it is no longer about a career where I can make money or a career my parents would approve of, and all of sudden it is: “This is what I’m interested in. This is what I want to learn more about and want to spend my life doing.” That to me is really the most powerful experience that I can have as a faculty member. Having the joy of seeing a student reach that point.

 How can other educators make this same sort of difference to awaken students?

JH: It all comes from within a student. A lot of it is really taking the time to get to know students as individuals. I’ve been fortunate because I’ve taught courses that enable me to do that. I’ve taught courses that had enrollment limits of 20 students, like freshman seminars. I encourage any faculty member at the University of Minnesota to take advantage of teaching a freshman seminar where they can delve into a topic of deep interest and have the opportunity to share that interest with students and get to know the students well. Another part of it is that I’ve taught a lot of writing intensive classes and that deepens my relationship with the student because they’re sharing so much with me, not just in the classroom, but, through their writing. I think that’s a big part of it. I just finished reviewing the final galleys of a book chapter and it reminded me about what I had written in that chapter, it’s not just about the small classes where you can do that. You can have a large lecture hall with a hundred students and you can still make the effort to get to know those students as individuals. Because if you don’t, you’re never going to see those moments.

 Many colleagues and students credit you with making them better writers. What’s your secret and why the green pen?

JH: (Laughs) You heard about the green ink. I sometimes use purple. Growing up when teachers still graded everything with red pencil, before anything was electronic, you just learned that the red pencil meant that something was wrong: That you were then wrong. So I have never used red for presenting any kind of feedback. 

I’m continuing to edit an international open access journal while I’m retired, and at the same time while I was reviewing the galleys of my own work yesterday, I was also going through an article that was submitted by someone from another country. Trying to give reasons for all the feedback. Trying to point journal authors or students to the resources they need to build upon those skills. To always make the process of reading someone’s writing a mentoring process, rather than a grading process. That’s always been important to me.

Your publications are extensive. Which one(s) are you most proud of and why?

JH: That’s hard to answer. The work I’ve done has kept building on previous work. I have to point to my whole body of work where my closest co-author and co-editor was always Emily Goff. But there were a number of people, another former graduate student, Jennifer Schultz, Irene Duranczyk, and others who also shared in this work quite a bit. Definitely my work related to Universal Design is an area in which I know, I’m not saying I made a difference, but I know that work makes a difference and that the impact of the work is broader than what was initially assumed about UD. We now know Universal Instructional Design can improve learning for all students, not just a specific target audience of students with disabilities. In fact, one of my most recent publications was a conference proceedings paper I presented in January, co-authored by Emily Goff, about our work on integrated multicultural instructional design (IMID). We intentionally presented at an international conference and published it in an international open access conference proceedings, so anybody anywhere in the world could get their hands on it at no cost.  That publication has only been on the web for maybe two months now so it’s not had time to have an impact, and other things that we’ve written related to integrated multicultural instructional design build on our work with Universal Instructional Design, but the new paper takes IMID many steps farther in terms of considering the multiple facets of students’ individual social identities.

Your colleagues describe your character as a blend of highly intellectual and scholarly passion combined with human compassion and kindness. Where did your empathy come from?

JH: That’s very kind. When I was at the University of Georgia, I was respected by faculty outside my department but not necessarily by faculty within. My work related to multiculturalism, some of my work with disabilities, was not valued there, but it has always been my focus because of how my mother raised me. I started doing this work before the term social justice was used to describe the work. It’s always been important to me because of the values my Mom instilled in me at a period of time when having those values was not popular. Having these values from an early age forward and knowing that I then had to have the courage to walk the talk, and not just be an empty shell, this had a long-term impact on my wanting to be inclusive of everyone.

How do you believe empathy impacts students?

JH: Some graduate students come into our program very confident, but for some, they’re not just the first in their family to do graduate work, they are the first to attend college, graduate from college and it’s still important that they come to that realization of just how smart and capable they are and that more doors will continue to open to them. I love the fact that half of the students who enter our MA program have every intention of pursuing their doctorate. At the same time, I understand the students who don’t say that when they enter because certainly when I entered my Masters program I never would have dreamed that I would pursue a doctorate at some point. I was somebody who, as a masters-level graduate student, was literally told by my advisor that I was not doctoral material. I’d love to hold my publication work against his.

Retired, but not slowing down, correct?

JH: One of the things I was looking for in retirement was no deadlines; being able to do things according to my own timeframe, at my own pace, on my own schedule. I can’t do that with The Journal of College Teaching and Learning that I edit for The Clute Institute because they are very respectful of authors. They ask that the turnaround from point of submission to initial point of decision is eight weeks. That’s a challenge if I’m traveling or if I have other commitments or something else sparks my interest and I want to follow that flow. I have to interrupt it and get back to the journal work. Balancing that is the opportunity to work with authors from all over the world and the US. I’ve worked with teams of authors from Tuskegee and really enjoy having the opportunity to read work that isn’t related to any academic discipline. One of the papers I learned the most from was a paper related to teaching astronomy and some work that’s been done internationally to make astronomy and the study of the stars more accessible to students who aren’t at institutions with big budgets and fancy telescopes. Another  piece I recently edited on college students’ involvement in aquatic sports tourism in Taiwan used the same theoretical framework about intended behaviors that the University of Georgia’s Karen Kalivoda, now the Director of the Disability Resource Center, introduced me to when she was a graduate student. I was on her doctoral committee as the outside member, but was the one who worked with her most closely on her dissertation. Her dissertation from the early 90s used the same theoretical framework I was reading yesterday only applied to a completely different area of expertise.

I’m drawn into reading and editing these pieces from all around the world that have nothing to do with my academic disciplinary areas of expertise, but at the same time are just truly interesting to me. I can tell you in depth about many of the articles I’ve edited. And, because The Clute Institute has numerous conferences in different parts of the world, including the US, I get to go to conferences and meet some of these authors and that’s a truly wonderful experience. I really enjoy doing it.

One last question: Have the late night student phone calls ended?

JH: (Laughs) Of course the phone calls have ended, but the emails still tend to roll in. My husband will be long asleep and I’ll do a quick check of the umn.edu account at about 2 a.m. before I go to sleep. It’s fun to see the messages that came in during the wee hours.

Thank you to Jeanne Higbee for her far-reaching impact and tireless dedication to inclusive, education development through teaching, writing, editing and mentorship. In celebration, we toast you with the following words of praise and gratitude.

“Jeanne’s energy and connections put the University into the forefront of Education Development.” — Cathy Wambach, PsTL colleague

“No one else at the University has shown me as much compassion, kindness and generosity. She brings the idea of making a difference into reality. I can only aspire to make that kind of impact.” — Jill Trites, PsTL colleague

“She lets you see the real person. She is compassionate, willing to be vulnerable and expresses genuine concern for others and that is very rare. She helped make the department a place of stability.” —  Bob Poch, PsTL colleague

“Best instructor I’ve had in my entire life. You never feel like you’re taking up her time. She’s a fierce advocate for students who is always willing to mentor and help provide direction.” — Amber Eule-Nashoba, former student

“She was my advisor. I learned so much from her, more than in some of my classes. She’s a natural teacher. She pushed me to get stuff finished and think in different way. I’m excited she’s retiring so she’ll have more time to work with me. I don’t just like her; I love her.”  — Anise McDowell, former advisee

“She is a life-effusing force who knows when to hire others. With her green ink pen, Jeanne made me a much better and more confident writer.”  — David Arendale, PsTL colleague

“I owe every professional thing I’ve accomplished to Jeanne. I’ve been supported by everything I’ve learned from her personally and professionally. She’s also fearless about publication.”   — Emily Goff, co-author and former student

“In 2008, she helped me navigate the path to becoming a faculty member. She was my main advisor at the time, and served in a number of edits that influenced my work and made me a better writer.” — Mike Stebleton, PsTL colleague

“I admire her commitment and passion and fearlessness. She taught me to see the best in students, what they’re strengths and abilities are; to understand who they are, what they have to offer and how we can impact them.” — Gary Peter, PsTL colleague

“Jeanne introduced me to Universal Instructional Design and from that point on all the courses, papers and workshops unfolded. She made a big difference in precisely how I’ve designed courses and provided materials.” — Jay Hatch, PsTL colleague

“She’s the most brilliant person I’ve ever met. We’ve been married 35 years and that is the thing that continues to attract me to her. She’s always been passionate about teaching and was always student-oriented. She would take calls from students day or night.”  —  Tom Couillard, husband