College News and Notes



On to Mars!

Space exploration science educationAssistant professor Ron Rinehart and pre-service students Tori Wells and Tyler Brown took a group of UNI elementary, middle level and secondary education teachers through an exercise in interactive space exploration education this spring. In the hands-on workshop, complete with robots, Rinehart, Wells and Brown used what they learned as part of a trip to the NASA Space Center in Houston in February to attend the 25th annual Space Exploration Conference. Their trip was supported by a $5,000 grant from the Iowa Space Grant Consortium. 

8th Annual African-American Children's and Families Conference

African-American Children and Families ConferenceDespite snowy, cold conditions that disrupted schedules and forced the cancellation of the 13th annual African-American Read-In, the 8th annual African-American Children's and Families Conference brought together guest speakers, educators, students, staff and community members once again. The conference, entitled “The Power of Our People, Strength Through History, Culture, Hope, Experience and Collective Stories,” kicked off with an energetic drum and step performance by the Union Steppers Drill Team. 

New leaders at COE 

In addition to Colleen Mulholland’s appointment as interim dean, the following faculty assumed new leadership positions at the start of the FY 2019-20 school year:

  • Susan Etscheidt, head, special education (previously, interim head) 
  • Benjamin Forsyth, head, educational psychology, foundations and leadership studies (EPFLS) 
  • Timothy Gilson, assistant department head, EPFLS
  • Stephanie Schmitz, interim associate dean, graduate studies 
  • Deborah Tidwell, interim director, Jacobson Center for Literacy and Learning and program coordinator, doctorate in education program. 

Robin Dada previously joined the COE as head of curriculum and instruction, while Mary Donegan-Ritter stepped in as interim head for the teaching department. 

Welcome new faculty

  • Curriculum and instruction: Laura Edwards, elementary education generalist, assistant professor; Sarah Bryans-Bongey, instructional technology, associate professor; Brandy Smith, one-year term, early childhood education;
  • Educational psychology, foundations and leadership studies: Morgan Anderson, foundations, assistant professor; Ken Hayes, instructor, principalship program coordinator; Theophile Muhayimana, educational leadership, assistant professor;
  • Kinesiology: Terence Moriarty, physiology of exercise, assistant professor; Mauricio Nunez Jr., biomechanics, assistant professor; 
  • Teaching: Three new student teaching coordinators: Kathleen Korbel, Charles City/Mason City; Neil Mullen, Northeast Iowa; Melanie Hill, Des Moines. 

Alumni return for Alumni-in-Residence  

Students and faculty welcomed three alumni as part of the ongoing Alumni-in-Residence series in the past year. 

In 2019, Jason Klingensmith, principal at Sergeant Bluff-Luton High School, spent time with educational leadership faculty as part of a day that also included fellow UNI alumni educators from his district. ​

In 2018, Simona Florentina Boroianu, an English language development instructional coach for the Waterloo Community School District, and Annette Hyde, director of special education for Keystone Area Education Agency, shared their experiences by visiting classes and speaking with students, faculty and administrators. 

Mindfulness key focus of Carlton-Mellichamp Lecture Series 

Professor Natalie Tran, chair of the Department of Secondary Education at California State University, Fullerton, was the guest lecturer for the third annual Carlton-Mellichamp Lecture in Education series in April 2019. Her keynote session focused on “Cultivating Social Emotional Awareness through the Practice of Mindfulness.” Tran worked with graduate students to lead a workshop on mindfulness and, as a heritage speaker of Vietnamese, also discussed advancing biliteracy for less commonly taught languages with faculty and area education leaders. 

The lecture series began in 2018 with support from a gift to the UNI Foundation from Suzanne and Duncan Mellichamp through a gift to the UNI Foundation. 

Alumna Becky Wolfe shares insights as part of Teaching Connections

Becky Wolfe (B.A., ‘01), director of school programs and educational resources for The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, served as guest speaker for the Bill and Linda Tubbs Teaching Connections at the UNI College of Education in February 2019. 

Wolfe focused on non-traditional delivery of educational programming. education in the non-profit setting, youth development and STEM education. The professional development series, begun in 2017, was renamed to reflect a UNI Foundation gift from Bill and Linda Tubbs.

Nonprofit students excel at national conference

College of Education leisure, youth and human services students Mikaela Heikens and Josie Riedell were among a group of five UNI students awarded first place for a presentation on fundraising at the Alliance Management Institute’s national conference in January 2019. As a chapter, the UNI Nonprofit Leadership Alliance was honored for its fundraising excellence and best practices as a student association.

COE undergrads and grad students earn UNI student awards

College of Education undergraduate and graduate students were well represented in UNI awards conferred in spring 2019. Awards included:

2019 Student Leadership Awards

  • Dr. Sue Follon Scholarship for Women in Leadership: Shaylyn Trenkamp, elementary education
  • Dr. Charlotte West Scholar-Athlete West Award: Crystal Florman, a leisure, youth and human services student on the women’s swimming and diving team; and Isaac Holtz, a movement and exercise science major on the men’s track and field team. 
  • Diversity Matters Award: Nadir Khan, public health and education
  • Servant Leader Award: Emily Meier, leisure, youth and human services; Trevor Fletcher, elementary education. 

Graduate College Awards for Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation

  • First place: Allan Nelson, Ed.D., educational leadership and postsecondary education: "Exploring the Experience of Adolescent Students Attending a Virtual School"
  • Second place: Junu Shrestha, Ed.D., allied health, recreation and community services: "Study of Low Dose Nitrite Stress on Human Mononuclear Cells: An In-Vitro Case-Control Study on Osteoarthritis"
  • Third place: Stanley Ebede, Ed.D., allied health, recreation and community services: "Student Engagement in Higher Education: Measuring the Differences in Community Engagement" 

2019 Graduate Student Symposium 

Poster Presentations:

  • Honorable Mention: Kylie Wilson, physical education: kinesiology (M.A.), "The Effectiveness of Using a Podcast to Teach Person-First Language." 

Oral Presentations: Three doctoral students in the curriculum and instruction independent study area earned first place awards:

  • Mahjabeen Hussain, "Understanding ESL Undergraduate Students’ Beliefs About Learner-Centered Instruction;"
  • Shehreen Iqtadar, “If It Wasn’t My Race, It Was Other Things Like Being a Woman, or My Disability: A Qualitative Research Synthesis of Students of Color with Disabilities in Education;" and, 
  • Abby Weiland, "Teacher Well-Being: Voices in the Field."  

New program coordinator for RAPIL 

Amy Mayer, M.A.E., is the new program coordinator of the Regents Alternate Pathway to Iowa Licensure (RAPIL) program. Ms. Mayer succeeds Susan Fischer, who retired May 30.

RAPIL allows working professionals with existing bachelor’s degrees to attain a secondary teaching license in Iowa, usually in a high-need area specific to local districts. RAPIL is a joint effort of University of Northern Iowa, University of Iowa and Iowa State University. Mayer, who first worked in television marketing, shifted to education later in her career and taught at the elementary level.

Faculty retirements 

The UNI College of Education said good-bye and wished a happy retirement to the following faculty who retired during or at the end of the 2018-19 school year.  

  • Susan Alborn-Yilek, Educational psychology, foundations and leadership studies 
  • Tom Davis, Health, recreation and community services 
  • Chris Edginton, Health, recreation and community services 
  • Linda Fitzgerald, Curriculum and instruction
  • Salli Forbes, Curriculum and instruction 
  • Frank Kohler, Special education
  • Terri Lasswell, Teaching
  • Jane Toerner, Kinesiology