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College announces newcomers and changes in faculty and staff roles

by The College of Education / Sep 14, 2011

The College of Education welcomes new faculty and staff this fall, congratulates current colleagues on their new roles, and wishes the best to departing colleagues. A coffee to welcome new faces and congratulate colleagues was hosted by Dean Mary Kalantzis in September.

New Faces

Carol Casbeer has been hired as a teacher collaborator in the Center for Education in Small Urban Communities. She was most recently a literacy committee chair and English teacher at Urbana High School.

Adrienne Dixson has accepted an appointment as associate professor in critical race theory in in the Department of Education Policy, Organization and Leadership (EPOL). Dixson received her curriculum and instruction from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and was most recently an associate professor at The Ohio State University. She is the recipient of the 2009 Early Career Research Award from the American Educational Research Association, a Spencer Foundation Research Training Fellow (1998-2002), and received the “Fire and Focus Award” for exemplary teaching at Ohio State in 2009. Dixson is one of the leading scholars in the field of Critical Race Theory.

Sarah Dolinar has been hired as the new associate director of communications. She comes to us from the College of Media where she held the same title. Sarah has seven years of experience in communications and marketing on the Illinois campus and brings a skill set that runs the gamut from writing and design to media and public relations.

Eric Hillman is the new clinical experiences specialist in the Office of Clinical Experiences (OCE). He previously served as a teacher and district curriculum director in the Monticello schools, as well as assistant principal in the Unity school district. From 2008-10, Hillman served the Department of Curriculum and Instruction as an adjunct instructor and supervisor and placement coordinator in the OCE.

Ron Jacobs has been appointed professor in human resource development in EPOL. He will also serve as director of our International Programs Office. Jacobs received his Ph.D. in instructional systems technology from Indiana University and last taught at The Ohio State University. He is among the top scholars in the field of human resource development, whose work has had a lasting impact on developing the field during the past 30 years. He is commonly regarded as the world’s subject matter expert for structured on-the-job training. Jacobs has served as president of the Academy of Human Resource Development (AHRD), has been editor of Human Resource Development Quarterly, and is currently president of the AHRD Foundation.

Debbie Kemphues is the new administrative assistant in the Dean's office. She comes to us from the campus Provost's office.

Jessica Li has accepted an appointment as assistant professor in human resource development in EPOL. Li received her Ph.D. from The Pennsylvania State University and was a professor at the University of North Texas. Before landing in Urbana, Li spent three years as a visiting professor at Texas A&M—one of the top-ranked programs in HRD—and had a heavy teaching load in a variety of HRD courses at the undergraduate level.

Anjalé "A.J." Welton has been appointed assistant professor of educational administration and leadership in EPOL. Welton earned a Ph.D. in educational policy and planning from the University of Texas-Austin and was recently at the University of Connecticut where she was an assistant professor in educational leadership. Her research focuses on the educational opportunity networks of low-income and students of color, using policy analysis as a tool for giving voice to individuals and groups who are typically not placed in a position of power to be heard. Her research also employs critical frameworks to explore the intersection of race and social class structures on educational institutions.

Other Promotions and Changes 

Fouad Abd-El-Khalick has been named the new department head for Curriculum and Instruction. He has been a faculty member at the College of Education since 2000, when he arrived on the U of I campus from the American University of Beirut in Lebanon. Abd-El-Khalick has held various positions in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, including division chair for mathematics, science, and technology and member of the faculty advisory committee. He has also served as director of the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Education Collaborative.

Mark Dressman has been promoted to Professor in Curriculum and Instruction. His research investigates the underlying cultural, philosophical, economic, and historical assumptions that shape research and practice in the teaching of literacy.

Stafford Hood has been named the associate dean for research and research education for the College of Education, and he will retain the title of Sheila M. Miller Professor of Education. For the past three years, Hood led the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, and the college appreciates his willingness to foster and grow our research portfolio in his new role. His previous experience as associate dean for research at Arizona State University and his role as a department head for the past three years make him uniquely qualified for this position.

Peter Kuchinke has been promoted to Professor in EPOL. Peter teaches in the areas of organization and leadership development. His current research interests focus on the evolution of the field of Human Resource Development and leadership development in corporate settings. A native German, Peter conducts much of his research in international and comparative contexts.

Rochelle Gutierrez has been promoted to Professor in Curriculum and Instruction. Rochelle's current research focuses upon understanding the development of teacher practice and teaching communities that achieve equity in students' mathematics participation and achievement.

Jose Mestre began his new role as chair of the Department of Educational Psychology this fall semester. He most currently has held the position of Associate Dean for Research in the college, and has been a professor in Educational Psychology and Physics at the University since 2005.

Chris Roegge has been appointed interim director of teacher education and will oversee the Teacher Education Redeisgn project. This project seeks to create a curriculum that makes the preparation of teachers a college-wide responsibility and involves working in partnership with teachers and administrators from local schools. Chris is also the executive director of the Council on Teacher Education.

Chris Span is the new associate dean for academic programs for the College of Education. Previously, he served as the interim associate dean. As a dean’s fellow, he guided the initial stage of our teacher education redesign project and reviewed our graduate programs. Not only is Span well-versed in the college’s academic concerns and culture, but he is deeply ingrained in campus-level issues as well, having served on several U of I committees and boards. He will maintain his active role in teaching and research in EPOL. We are deeply indebted to Associate Dean Violet Harris for her service to the college in this role over the past four years. Harris will resume her full-time faculty role in Curriculum and Instruction.

Alex Schmidt has been promoted to senior director of advancement. He has worked for the college since 2008 as director of advancement. His major responsibilities include major gift recruitment as well as overseeing the college’s private foundation and corporate relations portfolio.

Tom Schwandt has stepped down as chair of Educational Psychology to teach and continue in an administrative leadership role as the dean’s fellow. In this capacity, he will oversee key strategic activities, including the teacher education redesign process.

Brendesha Tynes has been promoted to associate professor in Educational Psychology. Brendesha's research focuses on adolescent and emerging adult constructions of culture, race and identity in online settings and associations between online victimization and psychological adjustment.


The College would like to extend our best wishes to several employees who have retired or departed in recent months. We thank all of them for their service to the College, and wish them the best in their future endeavors.

Tina "A.C." Besley
Research Professor, EPOL

Marsha Cheek
Account Technician II, Special Education

Antonia Darder
Professor, EPOL

Janovia Glass
Office Support Associate, Curriculum and Instruction

Jack Hehn
Adjunct Lecturer, Curriculum and Instruction

Catherine Hunter
Teacher Collaborator, Education in Small Urban Communities

Jean Johnson
Adjunct Lecturer, Curriculum and Instruction

Scott Johnson
Chief Information Officer and Associate Dean for Online Learning

Alissa Jones
Office Support Specialist, Special Education

Helen Katz
Office Support Specialist, Educational Psychology

Michael Peters
Professor, EPOL

Betsy Rider
Accountant, Special Education

Allison Ryan
Associate Professor, Educational Psychology

Carolyn Shields
Professor, EPOL

Jenny Singleton
Associate Professor, Educational Psychology

Paige Spangler
Office Support Specialist, Bureau of Educational Research

Tod Treat
Assistant Professor, EPOL