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Alumni Awards

Alumni Award Recipients

2023 Award Recipients

Distinguished Alumni Award

Tracie E. Costantino, Ph.D.

Ph.D. ’05 Curriculum & Instruction
Provost, California Institute of the Arts

Tracie Costantino, Ph.D., is a teacher educator and academic leader dedicated to the enduring value of higher education. She earned her undergraduate degree in Art History and Italian Studies at Boston College and her Master’s degree in Art History from Brown University. In 2005, she completed her Ph.D. in Aesthetic Education (Curriculum and Instruction) from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Costantino currently serves as Provost and Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs at the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts). Before CalArts, Costantino served as the interim Provost, Dean of Faculty and Associate Provost of Teaching and Learning at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), and prior to RISD was a tenured faculty member in Art Education at the University of Georgia.

Her teaching abilities have been recognized through the Richard B. Russell Award for Undergraduate Teaching, the General Sandy Beaver Teaching Professorship and participation in the Lilly Teaching Fellows program at the University of Georgia. Costantino's research focuses on the nature of cognition in the arts, creativity, and the transformative potential of aesthetic experience as an educative event. Her interest in interdisciplinary curriculum, STEAM, and creative learning has been supported by two grants from the National Science Foundation. In addition to numerous published articles and book chapters, Costantino has co-edited two books on aesthetic education: Essays on Aesthetic Education for the 21st Century (Sense Publishers, 2010) and Aesthetics, Empathy, and Education (Peter Lang Publishers, 2013).

Emerging Leader Alumni Award

Anjali J. Forber-Pratt, Ph.D.

Ph.D. ’12 Education Policy, Organization and Leadership
Director of the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR)

Anjali J. Forber-Pratt, Ph.D. is a disability activist, a two-time Paralympian and the Director of the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) in the Administration for Community Living appointed by President Biden.

As a researcher, her primary area of work relates to disability identity development. Forber-Pratt also serves as the Chair of the Interagency Committee on Disability Research which exists to promote coordination and collaboration among federal departments and agencies conducting disability, independent living, and rehabilitation research programs. She has authored more than 40 peer-reviewed journal articles and numerous chapters. As a wheelchair user for over 35 years, and a two-time Paralympian, Forber-Pratt is nationally and internationally recognized as a disability leader and mentor. She was a member of Team USA at the 2008 and 2012 Paralympic Games. As a Paralympic medalist in the sport of wheelchair racing, she has dedicated her life to helping others recognize their potential.

Globally, Forber-Pratt is involved with disability advocacy efforts related to access to employment, community living, education and sport through public speaking. She has been actively involved to help create inclusive sport opportunities for individuals with disabilities in Bermuda, India, Zambia, and Ghana. She was a White House Champion of Change in 2013 and the American Psychological Association awarded her the 2020 Citizen Psychologist Award for Advancing Disability as a Human Rights and Social Justice Issue Award. Forber-Pratt is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association.

PreK - 12 Educator Excellence Award

Lisa N. Pavic

Ed.M. ’07 Curriculum & Instruction
Science Teacher, Glenbrook South High School

Lisa Pavic has served as an educator for over fifteen years in a multitude of ways. Currently she is teaching biology and environmental science AP at the high school level, and has taught introductory biology and teacher preparation courses in higher education. Pavic also leads teacher workshops with Nourish the Future, inspiring teachers to incorporate agriculture into the biology classroom. Developing curriculum in writing teams, she works on biology AP storylines with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and agriculture storylines with the Illinois Science Teachers Association. She consults with the College Board to develop and refine the environmental science AP project-based learning curriculum. Additionally, she is a developer, reviewer, and scorer for the Illinois Science Assessment. Her passion for education stemmed from her graduate coursework in the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign College of Education with instructors who challenged her to think deeply about science pedagogy.

Through continued professional development with the Illinois Science Teachers Association and the use of storylines, and the teaching of science in context based upon a phenomena, Pavic has transformed the science classroom and the engagement of her most vulnerable students. Her work in implementing and modifying the Illinois storylines in the biology classroom has been shared at local and national conferences and at workshops to hundreds of teachers. Pavic’s adoption of a Project-Based Learning approach for AP environmental science inspired her students to install a new pollinator garden on campus, implement prairie restoration to a poorly maintained basin area, and begin the process of building an interactive living wall. Her ability to write grants and include students in the process has allowed for successful funding of projects. The National Association of Biology Teachers awarded her the Environmental and Ecology Educator of the Year in 2021 while her own district awarded her the Excellence in Service Award in 2022. Her commitment to culturally and linguistically diverse students continues as she recently completed her English as a Second Language endorsement.

2021 Award Recipients

2021 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients

Mary Lynn BoscardinMary Lynn Boscardin
Ph.D. '84 Education Policy, Organization & Leadership
Professor, College of Education 
University of Massachusetts Amherst

Mary Lynn Boscardin, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, has served as past Department Chair and as a Coordinator of Special Education at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Dr. Boscardin received her Ph.D. in Education Policy, Organization & Leadership with a focus on Special Education Leadership and Policy, and today is widely respected for her work in this arena. With regard to professional service, most notably Boscardin is a past president of the International Council of Exceptional Children (CEC) and a past president of the International Council of Administrators for Special Education (CASE). Currently, she serves as editor of the CASE Journal of Special Education Leadership and chair of the CEC/CASE committee developing the national Administrator of Special Education Leadership Professional Standards. Boscardin has co-written three books, the most recent being the second edition of the Handbook of Leadership and Administration for Special Education (2019), and several refereed publications. She has given keynote addresses and presentations, internationally and nationally. Boscardin has been awarded five Leadership Preparation Personnel (325D) grants as project director and four Personnel Preparation (325D and 325K) grants in the area of Communication Disorders as project co-director from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs. Her scholarly interests include special education policy, law, and finance; program and systems evaluation; strategic approaches to leadership; and professional network mapping. Boscardin's service to the profession has been dedicated to developing policy and practice that supports the inclusion of all students with exceptionalities in public education. Her commitment to diversity has been demonstrated through a focus on cultural responsiveness, equity, access, and opportunity in her publications.

Edward BuendiaEdward Buendía
M.A. '96, Ph.D. '97 Education Policy, Organization & Leadership
Dean, School of Educational Studies 
University of Washington, Bothell

Dr. Edward Buendía serves as the dean of the School of Educational Studies at the University of Washington, Bothell, where he is also the first Latino dean on the Bothell campus. He received both his M.A. and Ph.D. in Educational Policy Studies from the College of Education at the University of Illinois in 1996 and 1997, respectively. His colleagues at the University of Washington praise Buendía for his “strong vision for transforming teacher education through three interconnected pillars: community engagement, mutually reciprocal partnership development, and teacher diversity through pipeline programs.” Buendía recognized the need for a strong network between the University of Washington’s campuses and has shown how to be a leader and mentor. Through an educational sociologist lens, Buendía has researched racial and socioeconomic demographic change in suburban school districts. He is also a nationally recognized expert in many fields, including critical media studies, critical curriculum theory, school desegregation, and the sociocultural contexts of urban education. Buendía's expertise is demonstrated through multiple conference presentations, publications, and grant-funded projects.

W Tad Foster 2021Walter Tad Foster
B.S. '77, Ed.M. '79, Ph.D. '89 Vocational Technology Education
Professor Emeritus; Industry Consultant
Indiana State University

Dr. W. Tad Foster is currently a professor emeritus in the Department of Human Resource Development and Performance Technology at Indiana State University. From 1998 to 2009, he served as ISU’s Dean of the College of Technology. He has been an educator for over forty years and has taught at the secondary, technical institute, community college, and university levels. Foster earned his doctorate from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in Technology Education with secondary emphasis in Counseling Psychology. His research and writing are in the areas of organizational and personal change; educational technology from a cognitive psychology perspective; instructional design; and total quality management. Foster has numerous publications and is a regular presenter at state, national, and international conferences. In addition, he is a reviewer for the Human Resource Development Review, the Human Resource Development Quarterly, the Journal for Technology Education, and is an assistant editor for the Journal of Industrial Teacher Education. In addition to his academic pursuits, Foster consults regularly for business and industry clients.

Shireen Pavri 2021Shireen Pavri
Ph.D. '99, Special Education
Dean, College of Education 
California State University, Long Beach

Prior to assuming the role of dean at CSULB, from 2008-2015 Dr. Shireen Pavri served as associate dean for graduate studies and research in the College of Education. She has coordinated the Education Specialist Preliminary and Intern Credential programs and the Master of Science program in Special Education at CSULB. As the CSULB lead to the CEEDAR Center at the University of Florida, she guided a faculty team in the development of the Urban Dual Credential Program that prepares teachers to work in a multi-tiered system of support framework with all learners in K-8 schools. She recently led the development of an interdisciplinary graduate certificate program in Applied Disability Studies. Pavri’s expertise and research interests are in the areas of preparing teachers to facilitate the social and emotional functioning of all students including students with disabilities, and the effective assessment of students from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. She is interested in promoting clinical models for educator preparation and has assisted several local school districts in implementing a response to intervention model. Pavri has published and presented widely on these topics, with over 50 scholarly presentations and 30 scholarly publications. She has also served as Principal Investigator on 10 federal, state, and foundation grants.


2021 Young Alumni Achievement Award Recipients

Dr. Natasha JankowskiNatasha Jankowski
Ph.D. '12 Education Policy, Organization & Leadership
Former Executive Director of NILOA
Lecturer, New England College

Dr. Natasha Jankowski is a higher education and assessment expert and the former Executive Director of the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA). Jankowski currently serves as a lecturer with New England College. She previously served as research associate professor at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. She is co-author of the book Using Evidence of Student Learning to Improve Higher Education; the book Degrees that Matter: Moving Higher Education to a Learning Systems Paradigm; and the edited volume Student-Focused Learning and Assessment: Involving Students in the Learning Process in Higher Education. A forthcoming book with Stylus focuses on equity and assessment. Her areas of research include assignment design, transparency, evidence-based storytelling, equity, mapping, and alignment of learning. Jankowski is a recipient of Kent State University’s Alumni Award and is also a board member for the Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education (CAS). Under her leadership, NILOA was the proud recipient of the ACPA Contribution to Higher Education award. She also holds an M.A. in Higher Education Administration from Kent State University and a B.A. in Philosophy from Illinois State University.

Dr. Royel JohnsonRoyel Johnson
Ed.M. '11 Education Policy, Organization & Leadership
Assistant Professor of Education and African American Studies,
Pennsylvania State University

Dr. Royel Johnson is assistant professor of Higher Education and African American Studies at The Pennsylvania State University (PSU), where he is also associate director of the Center of the Study of Higher Education. Beginning January 1, 2022, he will join the Rossier School of Education faculty at the University of Southern California as an associate professor of Higher Education and director of Student Engagement in the USC Race and Equity Center. Johnson is a nationally recognized scholar whose interdisciplinary research addresses issues of educational access, racial equity, and student success. His work has an unapologetic focus on Black and multiply marginalized populations like those impacted by the criminal punishment, child welfare, and inequitable educational systems. Johnson is author of more than 40 academic publications. His scholarship appears in the Journal of Higher Education, Journal of College Student Development, Urban Education, Professional School Counseling Journal, and several other respected, peer-reviewed journals. In addition, Johnson has been awarded more than $5.1 million in grants and contracts from the U.S. Department of Education Institute of Education Sciences, Spencer Foundation, U.S. Department of Health Resources and Services Administration, Pennsylvania Department of Health, and several other funders. Johnson is deeply committed to translational research that informs policy and practice. For example, in 2020 Pennsylvania legislators sought his consultation on the development of H.B. 2952, which aims to ban the use of criminal record screening on college applications. For his early-career accomplishments, Johnson received the ACPA—College Student Educators International’s Emerging Scholar Award in 2020; and the 2021 Cotterill Leadership Enhancement Award, recognizing “exemplary leadership” in PSU’s College of Education. Johnson holds a B.A. in Political Science and Ed.M. in Educational Policy Studies from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign; and a Ph.D. in Higher Education and Student Affairs, with a cognate in Race and Social Policy from The Ohio State University.

2019 Award Recipients

2019 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients

p_clark    Patricia Clark
    Ph.D. '93 Curriculum & Instruction
    Professor and Chair, Department of
    Elementary Education, Ball State
                          University, Muncie, IN


Dr. Patricia Clark is a professor of Early Childhood Education and current Chair of the Department of Elementary Education, at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. She received her doctorate in Early Childhood Education from the College of Education at the University of Illinois in 1993. Dr. Clark has presented at numerous national and international conferences; has published articles related to early childhood education, teacher education, and diversity; and recently received an outstanding award for her book, “Transforming Teacher Education for Social Justice.” She is most proud of her work in co-founding the teacher education program, “Schools Within the Context of Community.” This program has won numerous national awards and addresses issues of diversity and social justice in the preparation of elementary and early childhood teachers.


j_dill    Jennifer Lewis Dillavou
    ’B.A. '82 Curriculum & Instruction
    President of Alumni Association and
    Associate Vice Chancellor for
                          Alumni Relations, University of Illinois

Jennifer Dillavou graduated from the University of Illinois College of Education in 1982. Early in her career, she served in several alumni relations roles at the OHIO University Alumni Association, Indiana University Alumni Association, Georgia State University Alumni Association, and Carnegie Mellon University, where her responsibilities included overseeing a capital campaign, annual strategic planning process, alumni communications, and membership programs. Years later she has returned to her alma mater and now serves in a dual role as President of the University of Illinois Alumni Alliance (UIAA) and Associate Vice Chancellor for alumni relations. In addition to this award, she has also been recognized by her sorority, Alpha Gamma Delta, as one of 42 Impactful Alpha Gams from across the nation.

m_kobia    Margaret Kobia
    Ph.D. '03 Education Policy, Organization
    and Leadership 
Cabinet Secretary for
    the Ministry of Public Service, Youth
                          and Gender Affairs

Dr. Margaret Kobia serves as the Cabinet Secretary for the Ministry of Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs, Republic of Kenya and as the Advisor to the United Nations Committee of Experts in Public Administration. As the Cabinet Secretary, she provides strategic leadership on policy direction regarding Public service, Youth Development and Gender issues. Prior to her Cabinet position, Professor Kobia served as the Chairperson of the Public Service Commission (PSC). Prior to joining the PSC, she was the founding Director General of the Kenya School of Government. She has also served as the Vice Chair Judicial Service Commission and is a member of United Nations Committee of Expert in Public Administration (CEPA) that advises the UN Economic and Social Council. Dr. Kobia is an Associate Professor of Management and Entrepreneurship. Between 2005 and 2013, Dr. Kobia served as the Director/CEO of the Kenya Institute of Administration and made a profound contribution in transforming the institution into a truly modern Management Development Institute (MDI) leading to the Institute’s elevation to Kenya School of Government.



    Ann Larson
    Ph.D. '98 Curriculum & Instruction Dean
    and Professor, Department of Middle &
    Secondary Education, College of
    Education and Human Development,
    University of Louisville, Kentucky

Dr. Ann Larson has served as dean of the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Louisville since 2014, and as a faculty member since 1995. Her areas of research include curriculum studies, teacher education and teacher development, professional development schools, and English education. Dr. Larson has served on numerous boards and committees at the local and national levels and is an advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion in educator preparation and human development programs. She is currently an executive board of directors’ member for the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) and previously served as president of the state affiliate organization, Kentucky Association of Colleges of Teacher Education (KATCE). She has published journal articles, book chapters and recently co-edited a theme issue of the Peabody Journal of Education, Vanderbilt University, that focused on clinical models of teacher preparation.


e_mukulu    Elegwa Mukula
    Ph.D. '04 Education Policy, Organization
    and Leadership 
Professor of
    Entrepreneurship, Jomo Kenyatta
                          University of Agriculture and Technology
                          in Nairobi, Kenya


Professor Elegwa Mukulu holds a B.A. (Literature) from University of Nairobi, an M.A. (Communication) from Michigan State University and a Ph.D. (Entrepreneurship) from Illinois. He is Principal and professor of Entrepreneurship at College of Human Resource Development of Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology in Kenya (JKUAT). His experience as a manager at the university level dates back to 1997. He has been teaching at university level since 1991 when he joined JKUAT as a lecturer. Mukulu has been published more than 95 times in esteemed journals including the Journal of Human Resource and Entrepreneurship Development and International Journal of Academic Research in Business and Social Science. He has been a training consultant and mentor to many entrepreneurs in the micro and small enterprise sector in Kenya. He was Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Human Resource and Entrepreneurship Development from 2006 to 2016.


t_wilson    Travis Wilson
    B.A. '97 Secondary Education, M.S. '08
    Educational Psychology, Ph.D. '11
    Educational Psychology Associate
                          Professor, Department of
                          Psychology, Oberlin College, Ohio

Dr. Wilson is an associate professor in the Department of Psychology at Oberlin College, where he teaches undergraduate courses in child development and guides undergraduate research. Earlier in his career, he taught high school science and middle school mathematics in Houston and as a Peace Corps volunteer in rural Kenya. His scholarship investigates children’s interracial relationships and achievement motivation in urban elementary schools. He has published on these topics in leading journals in the field, including Child Development, Social Development, and Developmental Psychology. His work earned him the 2014 Outstanding Dissertation Award in Human Development from the American Educational Research Association and a position as Associate Editor with the British Journal of Developmental Psychology. In 2011, Travis was the recipient of the College of Education Outstanding Student medal at the doctoral level.


2019 Young Alumni Achievement Award Recipients

j_malin    Joel R. Malin
    Ph.D. '15 Education Policy, Organization
    and Leadership Assistant Professor,
    Department of Education Leadership,
    Miami University, Oxford, Ohio

Joel Malin is an Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership at Miami University. His research interests include research use and engagement, cross-sector collaboration, and leadership and policy (e.g., surrounding ambitious high school college and career readiness reforms). Joel’s scholarship has appeared in several top journals, including Educational Administration Quarterly, the Journal of Educational Administration, and AERA Open. His primary teaching responsibilities have concerned educational policy/politics, research methods, and introductory statistics. Before becoming a faculty member, Joel served in several roles spanning P-16 education, including as school psychologist and district-level administrator.

r_woodard    Rebecca Woodard
    Ph.D. '13 Curriculum & Instruction
    Assistant Professor in Curriculum &
    Instruction, University of Illinois
                          at Chicago
Dr. Woodard’s recent work centers on the development and enactment of culturally sustaining writing curriculum and instruction, and she is leading an effort at UIC to design and implement a makerspace where teachers, university faculty and staff, youth, and community members can collaborate, create, and compose. She was recently awarded a University of Illinois Presidential Initiative to Celebrate the Impact of the Arts and Humanities grant for a project called Young People’s Science Theater: Chicago Public School and University of Illinois at Chicago Students Creating Performances for Social Change. Woodard has published numerous peer-reviewed articles in both research and practitioner journals, received recognition for her teaching through UIC’s prestigious campus-wide Teaching Recognition Program, and serves as the co-chair of the Language, Literacy, and Culture doctoral program.

2018 Award Recipents

2018 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients

Pic Weaver    D’Andre Weaver
    Ed.M. ’10 Education Organization & Leadership
    Community Superintendent of the Spring Branch Independent
    School District

Mr. Weaver is currently pursuing a doctorate in the Department of Education Policy, Organization & Leadership. He is passionate about helping students realize their dreams and is a proud former student himself of the Chicago Public Schools system. Following his time in college, Weaver taught multiple levels of English literature, served as principal at Gwendolyn Brooks College Preparatory Academy in Chicago, and assisted in various capacities with enhancing the education of college-eligible minority students and African-American students. In his current role as one of three community superintendents, he helps support 15 principals and more than 12,000 racially and economically diverse students. In addition, Weaver is part of a newly developed leadership team that is implementing an ambitious plan to create personalized learning experiences for each of the district’s 35,000 students.

Screen Shot 2019-03-05 at 11.58.11 AM    Timothy Eatman
    Ph.D. ’01 Educational Policy Studies
    Inaugural Dean of the Honors Living Learning Community and
    Associate Professor in the Department of Urban Education at
    Rutgers University – Newark

Dr. Eatman joined the Syracuse University community as an assistant professor of higher education and director of research for Imagining America: Artists and Scholars in Public Life (IA) in 2007. In 2012 he was promoted as faculty co-director of IA, a national consortium of more than 100 higher-education institutions and community-based partners working at the nexus of humanities, arts, and design. Eatman is a widely sought-after speaker, workshop facilitator, and collaborator who has earned worldwide recognition for his leadership in advancing research and practice on the multifaceted impact of publicly engaged scholarship in 21stcentury universities. He is a member of several boards, including the International Association for Research on Service Learning and Community Engagement, through which he earned the 2010 Early Career Research Award. His breadth of research and field experience has led to a number of publications, including a co-edited 2017 volume titled “The Cambridge Handbook on Service Learning and Community Engagement.”

Screen Shot 2019-03-05 at 11.59.01 AM    JÓhanna EinarsdÓttir
    ’76 Curriculum & Instruction, Ed.M. ’77 Educational
    Psychology, Ph.D. ’00 Curriculum & Instruction Professor and
    Dean of the School of Education at the University of Iceland

Dr. Einarsdóttir holds an honorary doctorate from the University of Oulu in Finland. She has conducted research in preschools and primary schools, and her work has been published widely. In addition, Einarsdóttir has been involved in several international research projects as a researcher and as a consultant, publishing collaboratively with international colleagues from Europe, the U.S., and Australia. She has served as a board of trustee on the European Early Childhood Education Research Association since 2012 and is an expert in educational transitions, children’s perspectives, and action research.

Pic Endo    Rachel Endo
    Ph.D. ’09 Curriculum & Instruction
    Dean and Professor in the School of Education at the
    University of Washington Tacoma

Dr. Endo was named the founding dean of the School of Education at the University of Washington Tacoma last year. Widely recognized for promoting equity and excellence in education, she has presented and published her research extensively in the areas of bilingual education, critical approaches to multicultural education, and the education of immigrant and refugee Americans. Her recent awards include the Arthur J. King Curriculum Innovation Award in 2018, the Carl A. Grant Excellence in Research Award in 2017, and the inaugural AERA-REAPA Don T. Nakanishi Excellence in Mentorship Award in 2017.

Pic Hong    Jon-Chao Hong
    Ed.M. ’81 Vocational Technology, Ph.D. ’84
    Vocational Technology Chair Professor at National Taiwan
    Normal University and Director of the Digital
    Game-based Learning Lab

Dr. Hong helps develop games for apps and the Web, and he has published numerous academic articles in international journals that focus on digital game-based learning, thinking skills, and creativity. While at Illinois, Hong was involved in creativity-training research that led him to organizing contests for youths. He also helped establish the Taiwan Creativity Development Association and organized the International Exhibition for Young Inventors. More recently, Hong has developed educational game apps such as Garden Science and Whywhy POE, which is hand-held technology that has promoted science inquiry and learning. He was honored in 2013 as an Outstanding Researcher by the Ministry of Science and Technology in Taiwan.

Pic LindaPerkins-web-e1478925548423-600x600[1]    Linda Marie Perkins
    Ph.D. ’78 Education
    Associate Professor at Claremont Graduate University

Dr. Perkins serves as the director of Applied Women’s Studies and director of Women’s and Gender Studies at Claremont University. A historian of higher education for women and African-Americans, she was also the director of the university’s Africana Studies program from 2007 to 2014. Perkins has published extensively on black women in higher education and is the author of Fanny Jackson Coppin and the Institute of Colored Youth, 1837-1902 as well as the forthcoming book The Black Women Talented Tenth: The History of Black Women’s Higher Education, 1850-1968. She is a former board member of the National Council for Research on Women and was the 2013 recipient of the Anna Julia Cooper Award in Education from the National Veteran Feminists of America.

Stayton pic    Vicki Stayton
    Ph.D. ’86 Special Education
    Professor Emerita of Western Kentucky University and
    Co-Director of Early Childhood Personnel Center at the
    University of Connecticut

Dr. Stayton coordinated the blended undergraduate and graduate early childhood education and early childhood special education degree programs while at Western Kentucky. She has published on these topics in both research- and practitioner-based publications and has directed numerous state and federal grants specific to preservice education and professional development. In addition, Stayton has presented widely at state, national, and international conferences and currently serves on three refereed journal editorial boards. She is involved in state and national initiatives within her field and is the chair of the Personnel Preparation Council of the Division for Early Childhood, and a member of the Professional Standards Development Workgroup of the Council for Exceptional Children.

Stovall Pic    David O. Stovall
    Ed.M. ’98 Educational Policy Studies, Ph.D. ’01
    Educational Policy Studies Professor of Educational Policy
    Studies and African-American Studies at the University of
    Illinois at Chicago

Dr. Stovall’s scholarship investigates critical race theory; the relationship between housing and education; and the intersection of race, place, and school. To bring theory to action, he works with community organizations and schools to develop curriculum that addresses issues of equity and justice. His work led him to becoming a member of the Greater Lawndale/ Little Village School of Social Justice High School design team, furthering his involvement with communities, students, and teachers. Stovall’s work in these realms has manifested itself further through collaborations with the Peoples Education Movement, which encompasses classroom teachers, community members, students, and university professors in Chicago, Los Angeles, and the San Francisco Bay Area. These individuals engage in interactive community projects centered on creating relevant curriculum.

2018 Young Alumni Award Recipients

Pic Bates headshot    Meg Bates
    MA ’04 Educational Psychology, Ph.D. ’09 Educational

    Senior Research and Evaluation Scientist and Director of
    Digital Teacher Learning Research, UChicago STEM Education,
                          University of Chicago

Dr. Bates is an educational psychologist who researches and develops educational innovations at UChicago STEM Education at the University of Chicago. She has led the development of several digital tools for STEM teacher learning, including the widely used Everyday Mathematics Virtual Learning Community ( She has also developed an online financial-literacy course for teachers and an adaptive digital planning tool for teachers called CurriculumKit. Additionally, Bates has published numerous articles on how teachers use and learn from online tools, and she co-edited a volume on digital curricula in school mathematics. Bates has served as a curriculum writer on mathematics, science, and financial literacy curricula and, in addition to her Illinois degrees, earned a bachelor’s degree in English secondary education from Millikin University.

2017 Award Recipients

2017 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients

Dave Edyburn

Dave Edyburn
Ph.D. 1987 Special Education
College of Education and Human Performance, Associate Dean for Research, University of Central Florida

Dave is a visionary leader in the field of special education. He has served the field in the capacity of an editor of five journals; published more than 150 articles; received more than $7 million in funding; and has presented his research nationally and internationally. His research interests include the application of technology to enhance teaching and learning. He has published and presented extensively on his work in the area of technology during the past 30 years, and his work in the field of special education has been cited often. Dave is a thought leader and a committed professional who seeks to help change and shape the lives of professionals, students, and families in the field of special education.

Mark GierlMark Gierl
Ph.D. 1996 Educational PsychologyProfessor and Director of the Centre for Research in Applied Measurement and Evaluation, University of Alberta in Edmonton

Mark’s specialization is educational and psychological measurement. His current research is focused on automatic item generation. Mark works closely with government agencies, testing companies, and academic publishers to implement item-generation principles produced from his research into their test development practices. He has published extensively during his 20-year career and is an extraordinary mentor who has inspired and fostered the intellectual development of many of his students. They, in turn, have gone on to do exceptionally well in their careers. Mark is the Director in the Centre for Research in Applied Measurement and Evaluation (CRAME) at the University of Alberta.

Elaine HorwitzElaine Horwitz
Ph.D. 1980 Curriculum & Instruction (MA 1975, LAS)Curriculum and Instruction Professor, University of Texas at Austin

Elaine has conducted groundbreaking research on the emotional experiences of second language learners and has influenced language teaching worldwide. She has been the director of an internationally recognized graduate program in the field of second Language learning and teaching at the University of Texas at Austin and continues to be an influential mentor to countless language teachers and researchers. Elaine holds a master’s degree in French language teaching, and her doctorate is in second language learning and teaching from the University of Illinois. She has 73 doctoral dissertations completed under her direction, as well as numerous master’s theses and two undergraduate honor theses.

Leslie RutkowskiLeslie Rutkowski
Ph.D. 2007, MS 2005 Educational PsychologyCentre for Educational Measurement Professor, University of Oslo, Norway

Leslie is internationally recognized for her research on large-scale assessments. She earned a master's degree in statistics from the College of LAS and a doctorate from the Department of Educational Psychology. Leslie has made a lasting impression through her research and teaching on educational inquiry and analysis. After completing research on post-traumatic stress disorder, she worked as a research associate with the Data Processing and Research Center in Germany, which is part of the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement. Leslie returned to the U.S. in 2010 and became an assistant professor of inquiry methodology in the Counseling and Education Psychology Department at Indiana University. Five years later, her experience in the international statistics field led Leslie to her current position as a professor at the Centre for Education Measurement at the University of Oslo. She has been published in numerous journals and has published a handbook on large-scale assessments.

Michael WischnowskiMichael Wischnowski
Ph.D. 1996 Special EducationRalph C. Wilson School of Education, Dean and Professor, St. John Fisher College

Michael has served as dean of the School of Education at St John Fisher College since 2012. He has focused much of his scholarly work on systems-level policy and administration within the early childhood special education and early intervention fields. Michael has been published in both research and practitioner journals, as well as other publications. Highly regarded in his field, he has presented at state, national, and international conferences and has been a mentor to many. Michael has served as associate editor of  Young Exceptional Children, a practitioner-focused, peer-reviewed journal published by the Division for Early Childhood of the Council for Exceptional Children.

Steven WiseSteven Wise
Ph.D. 1981 Educational PschologyNorthwest Evaluation Association, Senior Research Fellow

Steven has been successful in various roles: professor, editor, mentor, author, supervisor, researcher, and leader. His achievements during his career in both academia and industry have extended to outstanding research and significant contributions to his field, to scholarly dissemination, to service to his profession, and to the mentoring of emerging scholars. At the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Steven co-developed the Quantitative and Qualitative Methods in Education doctoral program and served as its first program head. He was also a founding member of the journal Applied Measurement in Education, one of the most influential journals in the field of educational measurement and assessment. Steven has also been a member of the editorial boards of multiple prestigious journals and participates on the Technical Advisory Committees for high-stakes testing programs. Steven has also served as a program co-chair for Division D, the American Educational Research Association, and the National Council on Measurement in Education.

2017 Young Alumni Award Recipients

Steven LukeSteven LukePh.D. 2011, MS 2008 Educational PsychologyDepartment of Psychology and Neuroscience Center Assistant Professor, Brigham Young University
Steve received his doctorate in the Department of Educational Psychology in 2011, with a certificate of advanced study in second language acquisition and teacher education. During his time at Illinois, he received two teaching awards, including the Sandra Goss Lucas Award for excellence in teaching introductory psychology. Since graduating, Steve has published 25 papers that have appeared in the top research journals within his field. His work has been cited collectively more than 300 times, demonstrating a substantial early impact in the field of educational psychology. According to Kiel Christianson, Steve’s nominator, “Steve is on his way to becoming a superstar in the fields of cognitive and educational psychology.”

2016 Award Recipients

2016 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients

christine adrian

Christine Adrian ’92 C&I, Ed.M. ’93 C&I, Ed.M. ’06 EOL
Social Studies Building Leader, Jefferson Middle School

Christine’s passion for social studies and preparing students to become citizens is evident in her role at Jefferson Middle School in Champaign. In this position, she organizes schoolwide activities and constructs personal learning plans for the social studies department. Christine also facilitates professional development for the Champaign Unit 4 School District and works to align the district’s curriculum to the new College, Career and Civic Life framework. She won the Lincoln Lesson Plan contest from the History Channel in 2009 and was the 2009 Outstanding Mock Election Project recipient. In 2010 Christine was named the Illinois History Teacher of the Year by the Gilder Lehrman Institute for American History; in 2011 she received the Outstanding Middle School Teacher of the Year award from the National Council for the Social Studies; and in 2012 she won the Award of Teaching Excellence in Illinois. Nominated by Kimberly Seobhan.

Elise DarwishElise Darwish ’88 C&I
Chief Academic Officer, Aspire Public Schools

Elise began as a kindergarten teacher in the inner city of Chicago and later relocated to California to work as an instructional coordinator at the San Carlos Charter Learning Center, California’s first charter school. Elise later collaborated with mentor Don Shalvey and Netflix co-founder Reed Hastings to start Aspire Public Schools, one of the nation’s first charter management organizations. Serving more than 14,600 students in 38 schools, Aspire’s model utilizes expanded learning time and small class sizes to optimize learning. During the last five years, 100 percent of Aspire graduates have secured admission to a four-year college or university.  As chief academic officer, Elise supports principals, oversees research pertaining to curriculum and assessment, and manages internal professional development programs. Nominated by Lizbeth Katsinas.

Kevin FavorKevin Favor, Ph.D. ’87 Ed. Psych.
Psychology and Human Services Professor, Lincoln University

Kevin has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to facilitating mental health outcomes for people of color and enjoyed a stellar career at Lincoln University, providing extraordinary service to students, faculty, and staff. At Lincoln University he has served in the roles of dean of Campus Life, department chair of the psychology department, and as a tenured professor. Kevin is a licensed psychologist in Pennsylvania and Maryland and maintains certification in the treatment of alcohol and other psychoactive substance use disorders from the APA College of Professional Psychology. He has served on committees and review panels for the National Science Foundation, Ford Foundation, and Centers for Disease Control. Kevin was named a People to People Ambassador for Mental Health and participated in the delegation to China and Tibet, investigating mental health systems within this cultural context. He also taught psychology as a visiting professor at Addis Ababa University. Nominated by Denice Ward Hood.

Gary SwansonGary Swanson ’74 Ed.
CEO and President, Dimage Studios LLC and former Professor

Gary is an internationally recognized and highly acclaimed educator, photojournalist, documentary and news producer, director, editor, speaker, and consultant. He has given numerous keynote speeches, served as organizer and chair at conferences, and presented workshops and lectured at embassies, festivals, and universities worldwide. Prior to his work in academe, Gary compiled a distinguished professional broadcast career spanning 13 years at NBC News, producing award-winning documentaries, prime-time news magazine stories, and covering breaking news in 26 states and Canada for the network. He has earned more than 76 awards for broadcast excellence and photojournalism, including three national EMMYs. His photography has won numerous awards and his works have been published in magazines, books, and displayed in art galleries worldwide. Nominated by Thomas G. Endres.

2016 Young Alumni Award Recipient

Brandon Wright

Brandon Wright, Ed.M. ’04 EOL
Partner, Miller, Tracy, Braun, Funk & Miller Ltd.

Brandon’s current position as an attorney combines his belief in civic responsibility with an understanding of the laws that drive the functionality of schools. He was the youngest person to be elected to a school board in Illinois, as he was completing his undergraduate degree at Southern Illinois University. He has developed a particular specialty in the field of special education law and assists superintendents and directors statewide, helping them navigate the legal waters of the decisions under the purview of their leadership. Brandon regularly provides administrator academies and school in-services, and he has spoken at a variety of roundtables, division meetings, school board workshops, and conferences. Nominated by Donna M. Davis.

2015 Award Recipients

2015 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients

Alumni award recipient Lisa DiekerLisa Dieker, Ph.D. '94
Special Education

Dr. Lisa Dieker is a Pegasus Professor and Lockheed Martin Eminent Scholar Chair at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, Florida. She received her doctorate at the University of Illinois. In her current role at UCF she coordinates the Ph.D. program in special education, is director of the Lockheed Martin Mathematics and Science Academy, and is one of three faculty members who created and has a patent pending on a classroom simulator called TeachLivE™, which was adopted by 55 universities in the U.S.

Shelley HymelShelley Hymel, Ph.D. '82
Educational Psychology

After completing her doctorate in 1982, Shelley Hymel served as a faculty member in developmental psychology at the University of Waterloo. She later joined the Faculty of Education at the University of British Columbia (UBC), where she holds the Lando Professorship in Social-Emotional Learning and has established a master’s degree program and a teacher training specialization in social-emotional learning. Hymel serves on research advisory teams for the interdisciplinary Human Early Learning Partnership at UBC and for the Committee for Children in Seattle.

Lucinda Lee KatzLucinda Lee Katz, Ph.D. '76
Early Childhood Education

Dr. Lucinda Lee Katz currently serves as the head of Marin Country Day School in Corte Madera, California. Prior to that position she worked as chief education officer with Mayor Daley in Chicago and served as director and principal of the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools from 1986 to 2002. Katz began her career with the National Teacher Corps Program in low-income schools in San Francisco and was the first Chinese bilingual bicultural teacher in the city's public schools.

Kenneth SlawKenneth Slaw, Ph.D. '87
Educational Psychology

Dr.  Kenneth Slaw’s fields of concentration include adult education, education administration, and children with special learning and health needs. He spent six years engaged in consulting work, working with state departments of mental health and developmental disabilities to monitor patient populations for early onset psychotropic medication side effects such as tardive dyskinesia. He helped put policies and care systems in place to remove children and young adults from medication prior to developing long-term, irreversible neurologic damage.

Lawrence L. SmithLawrence Smith, Ph.D. '72
Elementary Education and Educational Psychology

Dr. Lawrence L. Smith is President of Entrepreneurs in Education and a professor emeritus at Ball State University. His academic expertise is in diagnosing and teaching children with severe reading problems. Smith has researched for 20 years how technology can be used in the elementary classroom to help children improve their reading. He conducted the first study that compared children’s progress in understanding literature when they read from books and from interactive CDs.

Elizabeth TrummelElizabeth Trummel, B.S. '78
Elementary Education

Betty Trummel is an educator with 35 years of elementary classroom teaching experience. She taught Science Methods for Elementary Teachers at Northern Illinois University for 10 years. Trummel has a master’s degree in science, outdoor education from Northern Illinois University and is a recipient of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science Teaching. As part of education outreach associated with science research projects, she has had three Antarctic deployments that have been catalysts in her career and life, introducing her to polar science in action and providing the opportunity to spend months working alongside outstanding science researchers.

2015 Young Alumni Award Recipient

Neffisatu J.C. DamboNeffisatu J.C. Dambo, Ed.M. '13
Education Policy, Organization and Leadership
Neffisatu J.C. Dambo is a native of Urbana-Champaign. She graduated from high school at 16 and pursued her post-secondary studies at Southern Illinois University, where she earned bachelor’s degrees in psychology and elementary education. In 2006 Dambo earned her master’s degree in counseling and student development from Eastern Illinois University. She continued her studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and earned a master’s degree in the Department of Educational Policy, Organization and Leadership.