Dean of the College of Education
What year did you start working at NIU? 1995
Where is your hometown? and where do you live now?
Highland, Indiana, is my hometown. I currently live in Geneva, Illinois.
Where did you attend college and what degree(s) have you earned?
I earned my B.S.Ed. at St. Joseph's College in Rensselaer, Indiana. I earned my M.S.Ed. at Purdue University, and I earned my Ph.D. at The University of Akron.
In which department(s) do you teach?
I am the dean of the College of Education.
What do you like about working at NIU?
I love our students. They are hardworking, kind and motivated, and they inspire me every day with their passion and commitment to making the world a better place.
What advice would you give to students currently attending NIU?
Visit your professors during their office hours. Meet with your advisor regularly. Ask for help when you need it. We are all here to help!
Tell us about a research or engaged learning project you have led.
I am proud of the Educate and Engage series in the College of Education. When I became dean, this was one of our first projects to ensure that our students have engaged learning opportunities beyond their courses. We offer "educate" experiences for our teacher education candidates and "engage" experiences for our students in other majors. These experiences are offered at the local level, in various locations across the U.S. and around the globe. This fall, we are even starting to offer online experiences as part of this program.
What do you hope students take away from your class?
I hope that students who graduate from a program in the College of Education go on to become leaders in their careers and communities.
What is your favorite campus event?
It's hard to pick one! I love the new student welcome event in the College of Education, and graduation always makes me so proud of the amazing accomplishments of our students.
What is your favorite memory of NIU?
I have been at NIU for 25 years, so I have many favorite memories! I was so honored to be awarded the Presidential Teaching Professor award in 2009 because it is such a privilege to teach and help students reach their goals.
Who has influenced your professional path?
I have been blessed to have many mentors in my life who have influenced my professional work. I am very grateful to Jerry L. Johns and Norman A. Stahl, who helped me learn to become a professor in my early days at NIU.
What did you want to be when you were growing up? Are you currently doing it? If not, what changed your path?
I wanted to be a teacher from the time I was a little girl, and I have been able to teach at the elementary and middle school levels as well as in higher education.
Are you a member of or hold a position within a professional organization? If so, what organization? What is the purpose of that organization and how does being part of this organization benefit you in your role at NIU?
I am a member of several professional associations. I have served as the president of the Association of Literacy Educators and Researchers (ALER) and on the board of directors of the International Literacy Association (ILA). I am just wrapping up a two-year term as the chair of the Illinois Association of Deans of Public Colleges of Education.
What community organizations are you involved in?
I am on the ACE (Alignment Collaborative for Education) governing board. This group's mission is to "align community resources in support of public school strategies to raise student achievement, improve the health and happiness of our children, create responsible, productive and contributing members of our society, and advance the economic and social well-being of our community.”
What do you do to relax or recharge?
I am an avid reader, and I love to read a wide variety of genres as well as listen to audiobooks while I drive and exercise. I love watching sports, and I enjoy spending time with family and close friends.