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2021 Faculty Awards

headshot of L. Thomas Kent

Congratulations to JRCoE faculty who were honored with distinguished professorships and service awards at the 2021 OU Norman Campus Faculty Tribute Awards.

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Endowment Established to Benefit JRCoE

headshot of L. Thomas Kent

The Thomas family have established The Dr. L. Kent Thomas AIM Fund to support the advancement, innovation and mentoring of graduate students.

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2021 Celebration of Education

2021 Celebration of Education logo

Learn more about educators and education advocates who were honored for their work that is making a difference in Oklahoma and beyond.

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JRCoE Receives Murray Award

CAEP logo

JRCoE received the 2020 Frank Murray Leadership Recognition for Continuous Improvement from CAEP.

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DCDT Sitlington Award Winners

graduation headshots of Mary Barczak and Malorie Deardorff

Mary Barczak and Malarie Deardorff were named DCDT Sitlington Emerging Researcher Award winners.

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Shotton Receives Mildred García Award

Heather Shotton sitting in front of building

Heather Shotton was awarded the CEP Mildred García Award by the Association for the Study of Higher Education.

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Zarrow Center Partners with ZHO

Zarrow Center enters into research partnership with the Zayed Higher Organization for People of Determination in Abu Dhabi.

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JRCoE Names New Department Chairs

Kristy Brugar (ILAC), Heather Shotton (ELPS) and Maeghan Hennessey (EDPY) were named department chairs.

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Faculty Receive Research Funding

Diane Horm and Natalie Youngbull received research funding from the Office of the Vice President for Research and Partnerships.

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Velazquez Earns Research Grant

Associate Professor Mirelsie Velázquez was awarded a 2020-21 research grant by the OU Arts and Humanities Forum.

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Johnson Named Dissertation Fellow

Jennifer Johnson Jennifer Johnson, a doctoral candidate in educational studies, was named a 2020 Dissertation Fellow by the National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation.

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2019-20 Faculty Awards

The 2019-20 Faculty Award winners were honored this spring.

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2020 Celebration of Education Student, Faculty and Staff Winners

The Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education honors the 2020 Celebration of Education faculty, staff and student award winners.

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Reeder Named Interim Dean

Stacy Reeder was named interim dean of the Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education.

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90th Anniversary Celebration Recap

The Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education celebrated its 90th anniversary in 2019. Take a look back at the 90th anniversary celebration and more.

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OU Receives $2.4 Million Grant in Partnership With University of Arkansas for Special Education Transition Services Program

The University of Oklahoma and the University of Arkansas have partnered to help meet the need for transition-based special education services with a project titled Razorback-Sooner Scholars: Leaders for Transition.

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A Message from Dean Gregg Garn

Over the past few months, we formed a committee to evaluate the opportunity to increase access to our academic offerings through the creation of OU Global. OU Global would provide high-quality graduate programs to adult learners who seek the benefits of higher education and OU’s outstanding academics, but whose access is challenged by distance and time constraints.

Interim President Harroz has asked me to lead this effort, and as such I will step out of the College of Education for the next five months and work directly on this project.

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OU Launches Sooner Works Program

The Sooner Works program welcomed its inaugural class for the 2019-20 academic year.

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Zhao to Give 2019 Humphreys Lecture

Yong Zhao

Yong Zhao, Ph.D. has been selected to give the 2019 Cathey Simmons Humphreys Distinguished Education Lecture on Thursday, Feb. 28, at 4:30 p.m. at the Sam Noble Museum - Robert S. Kerr Auditorium.

There is no charge to attend, and the event is open to the public. To register, visit

Yong Zhao is a Foundation Distinguished Professor in the School of Education with an appointment in the School of Business at the University of Kansas. He is also the global chair professor of education at East China Normal University, a global chair professor at the University of Bath, United Kingdom, and a professorial fellow at the Mitchell Institute for Education Policy at Victoria University, Australia.

Zhao focuses on the intersection of education in the age of globalization. His talk will touch on the idea that nobody is average, and focusing on strengths can benefit America's schools.

Centering The Margins - Feb. 1

The Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education invites you to participate in its Diversity Scholars Conference on Friday, Feb. 1

Feb. 1 - 5:15-6:30 p.m. (Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Auditorium - Gaylord Hall)

Click here to RSVP

Dr. Bryan Brayboy will serve as the keynote speaker for the conference. Dr. Brayboy President's Professor and Borderlands Professor of Indigenous Education and Justice in the School of Social Transformation at Arizona State University, where he currently serves as Associate Director. At ASU, he is Special Advisor to the President on American Indian Affairs, Director of the Center for Indian Education and co-editor of the Journal of American Indian Education. He serves as affiliate faculty with the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, American Indian Studies, and the Department of English.

His research focuses on the experiences of Indigenous students, staff, and faculty in institutions of higher education, Indigenous Knowledge Systems, and Indigenous Research Methodologies. He is the author of almost 70 scholarly documents and has been awarded over $12 million from the U.S. Department of Education, the National Science Foundation, and the Ford, Mellon, and Spencer Foundations.

From 2007-2012, he was Visiting President’s Professor of Indigenous Education at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. In the last 15 years, he and his team have created programs in Alaska, Arizona, and Utah that have prepared over 135 Indigenous teachers, most of whom are still teaching in Indian Country.

Feb. 1 - 7-9:55 p.m. (Collings Hall)
Join us in Collings Hall as students from across the OU campus will give presentations on their scholarly work regarding diversity issues. Food and childcare will be provided.
Click here to submit a presentation proposal


Xun Ge Named Co-Editor of the Interdisciplinary Journal of Problem-based Learning


Purdue University Press is pleased to announce that the Interdisciplinary Journal of Problem-based Learning (IJPBL) has engaged a new co-editor, Xun Ge, to serve the publication alongside journal co-editor Krista Glazewski, associate professor of instructional systems technology at Indiana University.

IJPBL publishes relevant, interesting, and challenging articles of research, analysis, or promising practice related to all aspects of implementing problem-based learning (PBL) in K–12 and post-secondary classrooms.

Dr. Ge is a professor of Instructional Psychology and Technology with the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Oklahoma. She teaches courses related to cognition and instruction as well as instructional design and development for various open learning environments, including problem-based/project-based learning, multimedia learning, game-based learning, and virtual learning communities. Dr. Ge’s primary research interest involves scaffolding students’ complex and ill-structured problem solving and self-regulated learning through designing instructional scaffolds and cognitive tools in problem-based learning environments.  Her recent scholarly inquiry also shows an attempt to extend her work beyond cognition and metacognition to include motivation and epistemic beliefs. Dr. Ge has conducted extensive research in STEAM education in various educational settings, from K–12 to higher education, and she has collaborated with researchers and scholars from diverse disciplines around the world.

“Dr. Ge is an established and well-recognized leader and scholar in a wide range of areas. We are lucky to have her lend her expertise and leadership to IJPBL,” said Dr. Glazewski.

The journal is published twice annually in open access format. To read or submit to the journal, visit the website.
Release courtesy of Purdue University Press


2018 JRCoE Faculty Honors

Three Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education professors were recognized at the annual Faculty Tribute ceremony hosted by the OU Board of Regents and President David L. Boren on April 10.

Diane Horm - David L. Boren Professorship
Diane Horm, Ph.D., is the George Kaiser Family Foundation Endowed Chair in Early Childhood Education, as well as director of the Early Childhood Education Institute at OU-Tulsa. Horm joined the OU faculty in 2006 and was the founding director of the ECEI. She is a past winner of the Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education Leadership/Citizenship award, as well as the JRCoE Research award.

Kristy Brugar - Robert L. and Nan A. Huddleston Presidential Professorship in Education
Kristy Brugar, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of social studies education in the department of Instructional Leadership and Academic Curriculum. Brugar joined the OU faculty in 2014 and was awarded the Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education Junior Faculty award in 2016.

Paula McWhirter - University of Oklahoma Student Government Association Awards Outstanding Faculty Award
Paula McWhirter, Ph.D., is a professor of counseling psychology and professional counseling, as well as the training director for counseling psychology. McWhirter came to OU in 2006, after time spent as a clinical director and therapist. A Fulbright scholar, McWhirter completed her dissertation on intervention strategies with high-risk youth while training at a school-based community mental health center in Santiago, Chile.

Assistant Professor Angela Urick has been named the 2018 American Educational Research Association Division A Early Career Award winner. She will be recognized during the Division A business meeting at the AERA annual meeting this April in New York.

Each year, Division A of the AERA presents an Early Career Award. This award recognizes an early career scholar within his/her first seven years after the award of the doctorate or in the first five years of tenure track position and who has made outstanding research contributions to the field of leadership, administration, or organizational theory. Scholars are nominated for this award.

Urick is an assistant professor in the Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education, department of educational leadership and policy studies. Her research interests include school improvement in the areas of principal and teacher perceptions of leadership, leadership styles, school climate and teacher retention. She specializes in the application of advanced statistical methods and large databases to the study of school leadership.

2018 OU at AERA Graphic

Click here to download a list of panels, presentations and workshops featuring Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education faculty, students and staff at the 2018 AERA Convention, April 12-17 in New York, New York.

The American Educational Research Association (AERA), a national research society, strives to advance knowledge about education, to encourage scholarly inquiry related to education, and to promote the use of research to improve education and serve the public good.

List of JRCoE AERA Presenters (PDF)

Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Black Colleges and Universities

Tell Them We are Rising Documentary graphic

Wednesday, April 4
7 p.m.
Collings Hall 250

A haven for Black intellectuals, artists and revolutionaries—and path of promise toward the American dream—Black colleges and universities have educated the architects of freedom movements and cultivated leaders in every field. They have been unapologetically Black for more than 150 years. For the first time ever, their story is told.

Directed by award-winning documentary filmmaker Stanley Nelson, Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Black Colleges and Universities examines the impact Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) have had on American history, culture, and national identity.

The screening will be followed by a panel discussion featuring T. Elon Dancy, Ph.D., Kirsten T. Edwards, Ph.D., Mirelsie Velazquez, Ph.D. and doctoral students E. Cheryl Ponder and Eric Sourie.

To register to atted, visit

Alex Bowers, Columbia University

Alex J. Bowers, Ph.D., associate professor of education leadership at Teachers College, Columbia University, will present a workshop and a pair of lectures on March 7 and 8 as part of the Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education Endowed Lecture Series.

Bowers will present a workshop titled Cluster Analysis Heatmaps and Latent Class Analysis on Wednesday, March 7, from 3-5 p.m. in Collings Hall room 275. This workshop is limited to 35 people and reservations can be made by visiting

At 7:15 p.m. on March 7, Bowers will give a lecture Examining School Leadership as a Congruency – Typology to Inform Teacher and Leader Practice in the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Auditorium in Gaylord Hall. To register to attend, visit 7.

Bowers concludes his visit on Thursday, March 8, at 7:15 p.m. with the lecture Education Leadership Data Analytics: Using Big Data Visual and Education Analytics to Inform Evidence-Based Improvement Cycles in Schools. The lecture will take place in the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation Auditorium in Gaylord Hall. To register, visit

Bowers’ research focuses on the intersection of effective school and district leadership; organization and human resources; data-driven decision making; student grades and test scores; student persistence and dropouts. His work also considers the influence of school finance, facilities and technology on student achievement. Bowers studies these domains through the application of Intensive Longitudinal Data analysis, data science and “Big Data” analytics such as data visualization analytics, multilevel and growth mixture modeling, and cluster analysis heatmap data dashboards.

Cynthia Dillard, Ph.D.

The Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education presents the 2018 Social Justice in Education Conference, Feb. 6-9 on the University of Oklahoma-Norman campus.

The event kicks off with a keynote lecture from Cynthia B. Dillard, Ph.D. (Nana Mansa II of Mpeasem, Ghana) on Feb. 6 at 7 p.m. in Zarrow Hall (JJ Rhyne Community Room). The event is open to the public and you can register to attend by visiting

Dillard is the Mary Frances Early Professor of Teacher Education and department chair, educational theory and practice, at the University of Georgia College of Education. Dillard's talk is titled Democracy is Just a Word Unless You (Can) Live It: Learning from the Work and Lives of Women of Color.

The OU Center for Social Justice, along with JRCoE, will lead a workshop for OU faculty on Thursday, Feb. 8, from 10 a.m. to noon in the Frontier Room at Oklahoma Memorial Union. Social Justice in the Classroom: Inclusive Teaching Praxis will feature panelists Meta Carstarphen (Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication), Kirsten T. Edwards (Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education), Neil Houser (Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education) and Heather Shotton (Native American Studies).  The panel will be moderated by Associate Dean for Commuinty Engagement and Academic Inclusion T. Elon Dancy, II.

Registration is required for the faculty workshop. Visit to register.

On Friday, Feb. 9, Collings Hall will be the site of the JRCoE Graduate Student Symposium from 5:30-9 p.m. Graduate students from across the OU campus will offer discussion and share research related to social justice and equity in education. To register to attend, visit

Karen LaParo rescheduled lecture

Click here for the live stream of the Feb. 15 lecture

Click here for the live stream of the April 10 lecture

NORMAN, Oklahoma — Julia Torquati, Ph.D. and Karen LaParo, Ph.D. have been selected as the featured speakers for the Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education’s Cathey Simmons Humphreys Distinguished Lecture Series, Feb. 15 and April 10 on the University of Oklahoma-Norman campus.

Torquati’s lecture will take place on Feb. 15 at 3:30 p.m. LaParo will speak on April 10 at 4:30 p.m. Both lectures will take place in the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation Auditorium in Gaylord Hall.

The lectures are open to the public at no charge. Those wishing to attend may respond by visiting

Torquati is a professor in the department of child, youth and family studies at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Her talk focuses on the influence of natural environments on children’s development and well-being. Specifically, her research looks at exposure to nature and benefits to executive functions and self-regulation; young children’s environmental moral reasoning; and implications for education.

LaParo is an assistant professor in human development and family studies at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. She will focus her talk on research areas of quality in early childhood education programs and preparing effective teachers, using a systems perspective of understanding teacher preparation.

The Cathey Simmons Humphreys Distinguished Lecture Series is an annual event put on by the Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education. Previous speakers include Robert Putnam, Ph.D., Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe and Wes Moore.

For more information on the event, contact the Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education at (405) 325-4844.

Transforming the Early Education Workforce

New America Foundation visited Tulsa this past summer and filmed Diane Horm, Ph.D., Libby Ethridge, Ph.D., current early childhood education students and OU-Tulsa ECE graduate Nammi Kim in her Educare classroom. The resulting video was released as part of the “Transforming the Early Education Workforce” series.

This video produced by New America tells the story of how Tulsa Community College and the OU-Tulsa, together with the George Kaiser Family Foundation, created a new bachelor's degree program in early childhood. It was designed to teach developmentally informed practices, be accessible to child care staff members and educators already in the workforce, and provide loan forgiveness to offset costs.

Sinclair Named CEC Outstanding Graduate Student of the Year

Tracy Sinclair

Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education Ph.D. student Tracy Sinclair was named the 2018 Council for Exceptional Children Outstanding Graduate Student of the Year. Sinclair is a student in the special education program.

The CEC Student Awards recognize CEC's outstanding college student members -- undergraduate and gradute students - and chapter advisors who make outstanding contributions to CEC and to exceptional children. The Outstanding Graduate Student award honors a student CEC member for his or her dedication and contribution to children and youth with exceptionalities and to student activities.

Student award recipients receive a plaque at an awards ceremony during the CEC Annual Convention & Expo, held Feb. 7-10, 2018 in Tampa, Florida. All student award recipients will be recognized on the CEC website.

Sinclair is currently a Sooner Scholar at the OU Zarrow Center for Learning Enrichment and entered the University of Oklahoma doctoral program as a three-time teacher of the year at multiple grade levels, special education department chair and RTI coordinator.

"Tracy is constantly formulating new ideas to improve our field," said Amber McConnell, Ph.D., assistant director of learning enrichment at the Zarrow Center. "When other doctoral students are working on projects, they often seek feedback from Tracy. She strategically guides conversations to solutions. This is such an important quality when so many people can only see problems."

"Tracy has excelled in her courses, scholarly undertakings and in professional service," said Jim Martin, Ph.D., director of the Zarrow Center. "She has become a peer leader of those her in her doctoral cohort and this becomes obvious in class and community projects."

Cox Wins Award for Work in Student Retention

Sherry Cox Award

Assistant Dean Sherry Cox (center) was honored for her work in student retention at 13th annual National Symposium on Student Retention held in Destin, Florida. The event was held by the Consortium for Student Retention Data Exchange (CSRDE) at the University of Oklahoma.

The University of Oklahoma won the Institutional Research Leadership in Student Retention Award. The paper, “Retention and Recruitment: Using a Predictive Analytic Model to Build and Implement a Strategic Graduation and Retention Action Plan,” was written by Cox, Jeremiah McKinley and Glenn Hansen. This award is given to the paper best demonstrating the importance of institutional research to the field of student retention. The Office of Business Analytics worked with the Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education to build a predictive model. Based on historical data, it identifies strong candidates for teacher certification programs. It also predicts the likelihood of graduation and program completion from the College of Education. Academic advisors and administrators use the model to develop and carry out action plans to assist at-risk students.

The CSRDE hosts the symposium each year as a forum for administrators, faculty and staff from institutions of higher education to share the most current research on student retention and success. NSSR is distinguished from other conferences in that all papers presented at the symposium have gone through a multiple stage review process before presentation, beginning with the submission of abstracts. If selected, the papers are also published in the conference proceedings.

The CSRDE has a diverse membership of about 400 colleges and universities—two- and four-year, public and private—with the common interest of achieving the highest levels of student success through sharing data, knowledge and innovation. It is operated by the Center for Institutional Data Exchange and Analysis at the University of Oklahoma Outreach.

Brugar Receives Early Career Award

Kristy Brugar

Assistant Professor Kristy Brugar has been awarded the Early Career Award for the College and University Faculty Assembly of the National Council for the Social Studies.

This award, made to a scholar in the early (pre-tenured) stages of his/her career (with degree awarded during or after 2010), recognizes a significant program of research on important problems of theory and/or practice in the area of social education. The recipient of this award must be engaged in scholarly inquiry that extends a significant line of research, addresses new and/or persistent issues of concern to the field, fills a gap in current knowledge, or raises significant questions about extant knowledge.

In addition, the awardee should be engaged in studying problems or questions that are timely and that contribute to current debates or dilemmas of theory and/or practice. The scholar's body of work must be characterized by conceptual and/or empirical significance, rigor, coherence, and sophistication, and must hold potential to contribute significantly to scholarship in the field.

Said one reviewer on the awards committee, "What put Kristi on top for me was the quality/quantity of her work, years past doctoral study and overall service to the profession."

College and University Faculty Assembly is an affiliate group of the National Council for the Social Studies. CUFA consists of higher education faculty members, graduate students and others interested in working with social educators (K-16) such as social scientists, historians and philosophers. It is also an advocacy organization for social studies education.


Baird Receives Fulbright Award

Fulbright logo

Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education 2017 graduate Hannah Kristen Baird has been named a recipient of a Fulbright Grant for academic year 2017-2018. Baird will serve as an English teaching assistant in Mexico.

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