Celebrating Excellence: Summer 2021



Amy Schmidt receives Educational Leadership Legacy Award 

Amy Schmidt Legacy AwardAmy Schmidt (‘99 BA, ‘14 ASC-Principalship) has been awarded the 2021 UNI Educational Leadership Legacy Award.  

Schmidt currently serves as Hoover Middle School principal in the Waterloo Community School District. She completed the Advanced Studies Certificate (ASC)-Principalship program in 2014, and was immediately hired as the Irving Elementary principal. She has been with Hoover since 2018. At UNI, she was a dual major in elementary and early childhood education. 

Schmidt is a regular guest speaker for students seeking their ASC or MAE offered by the UNI College of Education principalship program. Nominators wrote: “Amy is an outstanding listener who genuinely cares about the perspectives and lenses that others share with her. Her ability to listen and understand those perspectives allow her to respond to situations in ways that validate concerns, solve problems and restore dignity all at the same time.”

The UNI Educational Leadership Legacy Award program is sponsored in part by a gift in memory of former educational leader, Vernon Kirlin (BA, ‘46). It recognizes graduates of the UNI educational leadership programs who demonstrate its core values of learning, service and change. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, no award was given in 2020. 

UNI among best graduate schools for master's in education and online programs 

Best grad schools for MAE 2022The College of Education was among those receiving significant recognition in early 2021 with the announcement of two rankings by U.S. News & World Report:

  • Top 25% in online master’s of education programs for 2021
  • Among 2022 US News and World Report “Best Graduate Schools” for its graduate education courses. 

The college offers 11 master’s programs in education represented within the parameters of the “best graduate schools” ranking, from early childhood, elementary and special education advanced degrees to literacy education, postsecondary education: student affairs, school psychology and principalship.  

“This comprehensive ranking for the entirety of our master’s in education programs at the college speaks to the quality of the continuum of professional preparation for educators offered at University of Northern Iowa,” said UNI College of Education Dean Colleen Mulholland. “Paired with our doctoral program and complementary graduate degrees in secondary education and related areas like school counseling, UNI is certainly a leading choice for future and current educators and administrators.” 

In addition, in its first year of submitting information for the online ranking, the UNI programs tied for 72nd among 296 ranked programs. Seven of the nine programs included in the submission were College of Education programs, all coordinated by the UNI Online and Distance Education. 

“These rankings highlight how well established UNI is in the preparation of high quality educators who commit to the profession of teaching and lead from their classrooms, no matter the format,” adds Dean Mulholland. 

University awards and recognition

Ron Rinehart outtanding teacherUNI Outstanding Teaching Award: Ron Rinehart, Educational Psychology, Foundations and Leadership Studies



2021 faculty summer fellowships 

  • Curriculum and Instruction: Laura Edwards, Joan Bessman Taylor, Irenea Walker, Beth VanMeeteren 
  • Educational Psychology, Foundations and Leadership Studies: Morgan Anderson, Gregory Bourassa, Suzanne Freedman, Shelley Price-Williams
  • Kinesiology: Scott McNamara, Terence Moriarty
  • Special Education: Whitney Hanley

Each faculty member received an award of up to $4,000 for research to extend their knowledge in a focused area related to their discipline. 

Alumna among Presidential Award finalists 

Recognized this year as a 2021 finalist in the Presidential Awards for Excellence In Mathematics and Science Teaching is Sarah Martin, (BA, ‘99; elementary education/middle level dual; MA, ‘11, math, middle level). She teaches at Shenandoah (Iowa) Middle School. This is the highest recognition for teachers in the United States. 

Faculty and staff honored by peers

  • Becky Hawbaker, Department of Teaching, received the AAUP Outstanding Achievement Award from the American Association of University Presidents in May.
  • Chelsea Lowe, Health, Recreation and Community Services, was awarded College/University Athletic Trainer of the Year by the Iowa Athletic Trainers’ Society.  

Rouse joins Board of Regents

Greta Rouse (M.A., ‘12), a leisure, youth and human services alumna from Emmetsburg, Iowa, was appointed to the Board of Regents, State of Iowa. 

COE undergrads and grad students earn UNI student awards

2021 Student Leadership Awards

Three College of Education students were among those honored during the 2021 Student Leadership Awards which were again held virtually. They included:

  • Drake Martin Gold Star Award: Josh Malek, elementary education/middle level dual. 
  • Dr. Sue Follon Scholarship for Women in Leadership: Joana Maria, elementary education/middle level dual major
  • Outstanding President in a Student Organization: Kara Hooper, public health and education double major (wellness and fitness, women’s health)

Graduate College awards for Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation

  • First place: Belinda Creighton-Smith, Ed.D., emphasis in allied health, recreation and community services,  “A Study to Explore Linkages Between Reports of Institutional Racial Oppression, International Racial Oppression and Self-Efficacy in African American Youth in Predominantly White Colleges and Universities (PWIs).” 
  • Second place: Rob Griffin, Ed.D., emphasis in educational leadership, “Grading and Equity: Inflation/Deflation Based on Race, Gender, Socio-economic and Disability Status when Homework and Employability Scores are Included.”