Celebrating Excellence

Celebrating the accomplishments of faculty, students and staff in FY 2022. 

Hall of Fame group

Four alums inducted into Hall of Excellence

Four distinguished alumni were inducted into the 2022 Elinor A. Crawford and William R. Thrall Hall of Excellence on April 1 and 2 by the departments of Kinesiology and Health, Recreation and Community Services. Honorees included:

  • Mick Mack, PhD, UNI professor of kinesiology and physical education
  • Benjamin T. Pirillo, an elementary physical education teacher in Plano, Texas
  • Clementine Mukeshimana Msengi, EdD, a visiting assistant professor with Lamar University, Beaumont, Texas; 
  • Robert McNiel, PhD, retired school administrator, Cedar Rapids. 

Alum Jennifer Kennedy earns presidential math/science award

Jennifer Kennedy (‘95, elementary education, basic science minor), was named this past spring as an awardee of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. Kennedy is a STEM specialist with the SPARK Academy at Cowart Elementary in Athens, Ala. The award is the highest recognition a K-12 math or science teacher can receive in the United States for teaching excellence. 

Education programs rise in US News rankings

‌Programs led by College of Education faculty were again honored as among the best nationwide with the release of these rankings by U.S. News & World Report: 

  • Online master’s in education programs, ranking 53rd among 322 programs ranked, up 19 spots from 2021. Six COE programs were among the eight included in the honor, which placed UNI in the top 20 percent of online master’s in education programs. 
  • More than a dozen COE graduate programs contributed to a “Best Graduate Schools: Education” ranking. As a whole, graduate education programs at UNI rose to a tie for #106 of 274 colleges and universities with doctoral programs which were ranked. Last year, the first year that UNI participated in the review, the programs were tied for #136.

Online master's in education programs in top 20%COE receives best graduate schools in education nond

Faculty honors

Kuhn, Hawbaker and Schmid earn UNI faculty awards

Three College of Education faculty were acknowledged for their dedication to teaching and service by the University of Northern Iowa in spring 2022. They included:

David Schmid

  • 2021-22 UNI Outstanding Teaching Award, David Schmid, Educational Psychology, Foundations and Leadership Studies (EPFLS)  

Mason Kuhn

  • Class of 1943 Award for Excellence in Teaching: Mason Kuhn, Curriculum and Instruction (C&I)

Becky Hawbaker

  • Ross A. Nielsen Professional Service Award, Becky Hawbaker, Teaching

COE Faculty Senate honors five faculty with college awards

The College of Education Faculty Senate resumed faculty awards this year after a pause due to COVID-19. Selected for honors were:

  • COE Teaching Award for 2020-21: David Schmid, EPFLS, and Karla Krueger, C&I 
  • COE Teaching Award for 2021-22: Magda Galloway, C&I
  • COE Service Award: Susan Roberts-Dobie, Health, Recreation and Community Services
  • COE Dean’s Diversity and Equity Award: Theo Muhayimana, EPFLS

Chung receives Nielsen Fellowship, among faculty granted summer fellowships

Sunuh Chung

Sunah Chung, assistant professor in Curriculum and Instruction, received the 2022 Ross A. Nielsen Endowed Fellowship awarded by UNI. She also was among the COE faculty selected for COE summer faculty fellowships which provide up to $4,000 to support faculty research:  

  • Curriculum and Instruction: Sunah Chung, Leigh Zeitz
  • Educational Psychology, Foundations and Leadership Studies: Scott Ellison, David Schmid
  • Health, Recreation and Community Services: Rodney Dieser
  • Kinesiology: Kimberly Hurley
  • Special Education: Wu-Ying Hsie
  • Teaching: Curtis Nielsen, Amy Lockhart


Faculty Research, Scholarly Work Recognized

As part of a launch of a new periodic newsletter from Research and Sponsored Programs, 11 College of Education faculty members’ contributions in the past year were acknowledged. They included:

  • Dana Atwood-Blaine, Allison Pattee and Betsy Zan (emeritus), Curriculum and Instruction (C&I); Lori Norton-Meier,  C&I and Richard O. Jacobson Center for Comprehensive Literacy; Beth VanMeeteren, C&I and Iowa Regents’ Center for Early Development Education
  • Ron Rinehart and Nicole Skaar, Educational Psychology, Foundations and Leadership Studies
  • Disa Cornish, Health, Recreation and Community Services (HRCS) and Heather Olsen, HRCS and National Program for Playground Safety
  • David Hernandez-Saca, Special Education
  • Lyn Countryman, Teaching 

Moller leads COE students recognized with spring awards  

Alexis Moller Lux Award winner

Alexis Moller, elementary education, led a stellar group of College of Education majors who were among students receiving the 2022 Student Leadership Awards. Moller was named one of two Lux Service Award winners, the highest honor bestowed upon a student leader at UNI. Other awardees included: 

  • Boots to Book Scholarship: Gage Riggle, movement and exercise science,the Boots to Book Scholarship
  • Drake Martin Gold Star Award: Sarah Schoer, elementary education
  • Greek 360 Award: Jake Herbold, elementary education
  • Outstanding Officer in a Student Organization: Jeremy Charles, movement and exercise science, Outstanding Officer in a Student Organization
  • Diversity Matters Award: Maycie Stanbro, graduate assistant, community health and recreation
  • Dr. Charlotte West Scholar-Athlete Award: A.J. Green, movement and exercise science, men’s basketball, and Karli Rucker, elementary education, women’s basketball, 
  • Servant Leadership: Emily Churchill, recreation, tourism and nonprofit leadership, and Kat Gainer, elementary education 

In addition, the Climbing Club/UNI Outdoors group, affiliated with Health, Recreation and Community Services, also won the C.A.R.E. award. 

New doctoral grads take top spots for dissertations

Two recent Doctor of Education recipients led the way when the Graduate College announced its 2021-22 Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation awards:

  • First place: Daniel Butler, (‘20, EdD, ‘16, ASC, ‘09, MA, ‘02, BA), for “Impact of positive psychology in PK-12 settings,” Butler also holds a BA in elementary education, 
  • Second place: Nicholas Rafanello, (‘21, EdD), for: “Mid-level manager's perspectives of competencies for entry-level campus housing professionals.