Friday, January 4, 2013

Highlights from 2012

Welcome back from the holiday break! But before we move on to new things, here's a look at the past year at the EEJ College of Education and Human Services.

We're proud to say that US News and World Report named us #24 among graduate education programs in the United States. This ranking was higher than any other college of education in Utah or its surrounding states. Read more in Utah State Today.

Here are some other highlights:

photo of USU President Stan Albrecht at the end of campaign gala
Event with the farthest-reaching effects: End of USU’s Comprehensive Campaign

A five-year capital campaign ended in October. It raised $512 million for the university at large, and $75 million for the EEJ College of Education and Human Services.

The donors who supported us have helped us attract exceptional faculty and students, enhance programs that serve the needs of the community, upgrade facilities with cutting-edge technology and provide more than $200,000 in scholarships to deserving students.

Watch our website—we’ll be telling more about our friends, the impact they have and difference they continue to make in the college.

Most exciting grant award: The Science, Technology, Arithmetic, Reading Students (STARS) GEAR UP Partnership.

photo of Eric Packenham
Eric Packenham
As its name implies, this project brings together an impressive array of partners to increase two things: the number of students entering higher education from targeted rural Intermountain West communities, and their academic success once they are enrolled. The $15.6 million award required an equal partner match, bringing the total STARS GEAR UP project to $31 million.

“On average, only 16.1 percent of the students graduating from our target schools are enrolling in a college after graduation, and in some cases that number is as low as five percent,” said Yolanda Flores Niemann, former professor of psychology at the College of Education.

“To combat this trend, we need to focus on more than just academics. We need to eliminate certain stigmas and stereotypes.”

The project's current principal investigator is Eric Packenham of the School of Teacher Education and Leadership. Dr. James Dorward, the college's associate dean for research, is its co-principal investigator.

Read more from Utah State Today.

photo of Erin Grewell
Event with the largest student crowd: A Night with Erin Gruwell

The inspiring teacher visited Utah State in April. She is the president of the Freedom Writers Foundation. She's also the woman behind The Freedom Writers Diary and the Freedom Writers film. Her story started at Woodrow Wilson High School where she was assigned to teach the lowest-performing students in the school. Through her effort and compassion, she created brighter futures for her students.

On her visit to Utah State Univeristy, she addressed students and community on the importance of education and portrayed her story from the film and book.

Most talked-about research: How dads and moms contribute to education success

Results from a 15-year study out of the Family, Consumer and Human Development Department showed that the way parents play with their toddlers predicts their children’s academic success. The study found that mothers do more teaching when the biological father was a resident in the home.

These results were so eye-catching that in addition to its publication in the journal Family Science, it was also reported in Education Week, Parents Magazine, the TodayMoms blog and other news outlets.

The Family Science article was authored by Drs. Gina Cook, Lori A. Roggman and Lisa K. Boyce.

You can read more on the Center for Persons with Disabilities blog.

Photo of Sylvia Munsen
Highest International Honor: The Medal of St. Olav

Dr. Sylvia Munsen, the Beverley Taylor Sorenson Endowed Chair for Elementary Arts Education, was awarded the Medal of St. Olav by King Harald of Norway. This medal was instituted in 1939 by King Haakon VII. It is one of the highest recognitions in that country that can be given to a foreigner.

“I was really humbled,” she said. Dr. Munsen is proud that she is 100 percent Norwegian-American. She was born in the Norwegian community of Story City, Iowa, was raised eating traditional Norwegian foods and singing Norwegian carols and folks songs with her Grandma Anna. She attended St. Olaf College, founded by Norwegian-Americans.

Read more.

photo of Sachin Pavithran
Most influential appointment: Sachin Pavithran

The Center for Persons with Disabilities' Director of the Utah Assistive Technology Program was appointed to a national-level board by President Barack Obama. He will serve as a member of the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board. Find out more on Utah Public Radio's website.

Most popular post on our fledgling blog: Need relationship advice? There’s a class for that.

If you haven’t already seen it, take a look at the YouTube video embedded in the post. It’s been watched more than 8000 times. That isn’t bad for a spot advertising a class. Healthy relationships classes are offered through faculty from the Family, Consumer and Human development Department, USU Cooperative Extension and the Federal Office of Family Assistance. 

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