College News & Notes

A review of selected highlights of the past academic year. 

Convocation Ceremony

Return of convocation honors teacher education inductees

A record number of students and guests celebrated the return of the UNI Teacher Education Convocation and Celebration on April 6 at the McLeod Center. After pausing for 18 months due to COVID-19 precautions, more than 1,200 guests, faculty and staff attended the premier event honoring students admitted to UNI Teacher Education for their commitment to the profession. 

Mike Fisher (‘11, MA; ‘16, ASC; *22, EdD), then-superintendent of Charles City Community Schools (now with Oskaloosa), provided the keynote address. Ann Lebo, director, Iowa Department of Education, also spoke. 

Area superintendents were among the platform party at the celebration, including College of Education alums Jane Lindaman (‘89, BA; ‘95, MA; ‘05, ASC; ‘05 EdD), Waterloo; Tony Voss (‘15, ASC; ‘15, EdD), Hudson; and UNI alum Andy Pattee (‘98, BA). 

Major grant supports social and emotional learning study

Social and emotional learning support for today’s educators is the focus of a $250,000 grant award which Kerri Clopton, Educational Psychology, Foundations and Leadership Studies, and Darcie Davis-Gage, an associate professor in applied human sciences, have secured from the Iowa Center for School Mental Health.

Their proposal, “Building a Community of Resilience: Social Emotional Learning for Educators,” will investigate the effectiveness of providing a modified multi-tiered system of support (MTSS) to educators to reduce burnout, increase job satisfaction and increase knowledge and skills in responding to social situations in teaching. This is a two-year, two-part study which will focus on six rural schools and one urban school in Iowa as well three cohorts of pre-service student teachers. 

NSF Noyce Grant brings spotlight to elementary STEM teaching

Dana Atwood-Blaine and Robin Dada, both Curriculum and Instruction, and colleague Dawn Del Carlo, College of Humanities, Arts and Sciences, are focused on helping build the capacity of elementary STEM instruction in Iowa with a one-year grant of $66,682 from the Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program, part of the National Science Foundation. 

Through this effort, the investigators hope to establish the current status of elementary STEM instruction, particularly in high need schools, and lay the groundwork for a follow-up proposal. Atwood-Blaine says the project benefits both in-service and pre-service teachers, as more STEM expertise and instruction in elementary classrooms brings opportunity for more observation as students engage in field experiences. Read more in the news release. 

'Grow Your Own' grant to help address educator needs in Iowa 

A $65,000 grant awarded to the College of Education will support efforts to build stronger partnerships with select Iowa school districts, assess their immediate workforce needs and offer better support for the future. 

Dean Colleen Mulholland and Curriculum and Instruction Department Head Robin Dada helped secure the grant from New America, a think tank organization focused on a range of public policy issues. The grant aims to support future creation of more accessible pathways with a “grow your own” approach to increasing the workforce. 

Lyn Countryman, head, Department of Teaching, serves as principal investigator for the one-year grant. She is using this year for an in-depth assessment on shortages and needs in concert with several rural concert districts (Charles City, Storm Lake, Marshalltown and South Tama) as well as the Des Moines metro area, which has a higher percentage of English language learners. 

Grant supports resources for literacy education

Sohyun Meacham, Curriculum and Instruction, is part of a team awarded $23,500 for “Creating Open Resources Textbook for Methods of Teaching Early Literacy.” The project will replace 12 books currently used in three courses at UNI and Iowa State University with a comprehensive, open resource, saving students an estimated $52,200 per year. The focus is literacy development of PreK-3rd grade elementary students while addressing the needs of diverse students. 

11 faculty and staff leave their mark upon retirement 

By the end of the 2021-22 academic year, the UNI College of Education wished a happy retirement to the following faculty and instructors who have made a difference for hundreds of COE undergraduate and graduate students through the years: 

  • Aricia Beckman, instructor, special education, 37 years
  • Brenda Biersner, administrative assistant/Dean’s Office, 11 years
  • Diane Depken, associate professor, health, recreation and community services, 30+ years
  • Forrest Dolgener, professor, kinesiology, 43 years
  • Mary Donegan-Ritter, associate professor, curriculum and instruction, 17 years
  • Mary Doyle, instructor, teaching, 22 years 
  • Deb Gallagher, professor, special education, 30 years
  • Lora Hickman, field experience administrator, special education, 26 years
  • Denise Schares, associate professor, educational psychology, foundations and leadership studies, 9 years
  • Jody Stone, professor, teaching, 44 years 
  • Betty Zan, professor, curriculum and instruction 

‘CATS’ Office takes on merged duties for teacher education, COE

New CATS office supports COE and teacher education studentsThe College of Education Advising & Teacher Education Success (CATS) office celebrated its first anniversary in July since merging the former COE Advising Office and Office of Teacher Education. The professional staff serves all COE majors in an advising capacity and all teacher education students on their pathway to licensure. 

“Long-term, we want this new office to be recognized as a one-stop shop for student success,” says Dean Colleen Mulholland.

Renovations in fall 2021 created a more cohesive, welcoming environment for students seeking CATS services. 

“Combining teacher education and advising offices has become such a benefit for our students. Our ability to serve students' needs not only within the College of Education, but also the campus-wide Educator Preparation Program has become more timely, more efficient, and more capable of responding to continuous improvement efforts,” says Benjamin Forsyth, director of Educator Preparation, who leads the office. 

Public health students earn community collaboration award

Public health students go farm to table in education A whole class of students – public health majors who were part of the “Implementing Public Health Programs” class in fall 2021– were honored this past spring with the 2022 Iowa and Minnesota Engaged Campus Award for Community Collaboration.

Bestowed by the Iowa & Minnesota Campus Compact, an organization that supports service learning and community engagement at universities, the award recognized an annual effort over the past seven years to engage with local schoolchildren. This past year that meant providing produce from local farmers to four Cedar Falls elementary schools. The UNI students then connected via Zoom with the elementary students to share the story of how healthy foods travel from “farm to fork” – including a chance for some tasting opportunities. 

Susan Roberts-Dobie, associate professor in public health, has led the class, collaborating with Jodie Huegerich, Center for Energy and Environmental Education, to secure and deliver the produce. version 2.0 launches

New college website launchesA “new and improved” College of Education website – – greeted everyone as the new year began after months of review, revision and preparation. 

The COE site redevelopment was part of a six-phase project for UNI. It included the general College of Education story as well as six department sections and more than 40 majors, minors, certificate and graduate program pages. 

While a major emphasis in its restructuring is a user-friendly focus on prospective students, the revamp included an update of the alumni pages for the college and individual departments. Feel free to bookmark!