UF Distinguished Alumnus

The UF Distinguished Alumnus Award is one of the university’s most prestigious awards through the UF President’s Office. The award winner must be an alumnus of the university and must have excelled in his/her chosen field and/or must have performed outstanding service for the university. 

Gerardo Gonzalez

Dr. Gerardo Gonzalez
BA 1973, MED 1976, PhD 1978
Alumni Honoree (2018)

The PASSWORD for this is gallery: commencementlunch

Dr. Henry Boekhoff
MED 1970, PhD 1978
Alumni Honoree (2016)


Dr. Renee Clift
BAE 1972
Alumni Honoree (2015)


Dr. Willis Holcombe
MED 1972, PhD 1974
Alumni Honoree (2014)


Dr. Andy Horne
MED 1967
Alumni Honoree (2013)


Mrs. Delores Lastinger
BSE ED 1965
Alumni Honoree (2012)


Governor Beverly Perdue
MED 1974; PHD 1976
Alumni Honoree (2011)


Mrs. Anita G. Zucker
BAE ED 1972
Alumni Honoree (2009)

Alumni Awards

Lauren MayLauren May

2018 Outstanding Young Alumnus

BAE ‘08 and MED ‘09


Lauren L. May is a two-time UF College of Education graduate, earning her BAE ‘08 and MED ‘09. May has been recognized as an Outstanding Young Alumni for 2018 for her role as a strong leader in education, taking schools and students to the next level of achievement.

Previously working as principal of St. Pius Catholic School, May’s leadership made great strides in improving academic success, reflected by the exceptional growth of student performance and increased enrollment to the school.

Dedicated to ensuring students have access to quality education, May took a momentous step as a leader in Fall of 2017 and opened the Arlington Community Academy in downtown Jacksonville. As Head of School, May plans to double school enrollment over the next three years to offer VPK- 5th grade education that will serve 280 children in the community.

In addition to this undertaking, May also acts as the leader of the Professional Development School for the University of North Florida, utilizing the Arlington Community Academy to provide professional development for educators.

Although undertaking such a feat (head-starting an entire school) is no easy task, May is committed to her students and the community, living up to what it means to be outstanding.

Christopher MullinChristopher Mullin

2018 Outstanding Young Alumnus

BAAED ‘99, PhD ’08


Christopher Mullin, a two-time UF graduate, has become an established name around the state of Florida for his contributions as a higher education expert. Since earning his BAAED ‘99 and Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration ‘08, Mullin has dedicated his work to empowering others, working both in classrooms and policy. As the previous Vice Chancellor of the Florida College System, he led the development of the performance funding model and co-authored two books. An expert in research and policy, Mullin’s work led him through DC where he was the program director for policy analysis of the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) and at the Illinois Education Research Council.

Currently, Mullin is the director of “Strong Start to Finish,” a collective network of educators, philanthropists, and organizations who share the aim to increase equity in postsecondary education. “Strong Start” has set out on the mission to increase student success by supporting them during their first years in postsecondary school.

As an Outstanding Young Alumni, the passion Mullin has for education is reflected in his career pursuit of research and action to make higher education more accessible for all. He credits his family as being his inspiration and supporting him throughout his career.

Jon MundorfJon Mundorf

2016 Outstanding Young Alumnus

EDD ’14


Jon Mundorf, Ed.D., is a 2014 graduate of UF’s online doctorate in curriculum and instruction program, which is designed to strengthen the skills of practicing educators.

A native of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, Mundorf, 36, began his career teaching middle school in Naples, Florida, and he has gone on to become an award-winning teacher, and an internationally recognized practitioner of teaching to meet the needs of all learners.

In the 2015-2016 school year, Mundorf joined UF’s P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School, where he teaches seventh grade language arts.

He credits continuing education for making him a better teacher. He gives much credit to his joining in 2006 Harvard Graduate School of Education’s summer institute on universal design for learning (UDL). UDL is a teaching framework to guide the design of flexible learning environments that support individual learning differences. The summer institute, a partnership with the nonprofit Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST), now includes Mundorf among its teaching cadre.

Mundorf also has consulted with schools and organizations on inclusive teaching practices, accessibility, technology integration, and other ways to improve teaching and learning.

In the fall of 2015, he traveled to Fukuoka, Japan to provide a keynote presentation to 2,500 Japanese educators eager to learn how to create more accessible learning environments.


Jason Gallant

2014 Outstanding Young Alumnus

MED ’07, PhD ’11


Jason Gallant, who earned his master’s and doctorate degrees in school psychology from UF’s College of Education, has been given the college’s 2014 Outstanding Graduate Leadership Award. Among numerous achievements, he was recognized for tripling the number of families served during his first year as chief psychologist at the Boys Town Central Florida Behavioral Health Clinic in Oviedo, Fla. Gallant received his latest honor during the COE’s 2014 Recognition Banquet, held April 11 at the UF Hilton. He says his focus on improving the lives of youth through early identification of behavioral problems was inspired by his mother, an elementary school teacher who he says had “a genuine passion and enthusiasm for giving children the gift of knowledge.” Gallant grew up in Fort Lauderdale and earned his B.S. from Florida State University in 2004. He received his master’s in 2007 and his doctorate in 2011 from UF. “I truly appreciate the faculty at the College of Education,” Gallant said. “The faculty, staff and my peers helped me to become the person and professional I am today.” Gallant completed his pre- and post-doctoral fellowships in behavioral pediatrics at the Boys Town Center for Behavioral Health in Omaha, Neb. His personal interests include health and fitness, traveling and spending time with Lola, his Jack Russell terrier.

Sulkowski, MichaelMichael Sulkowski

2013 Outstanding Young Alumnus

MEd ’07, PhD ’11


Sulkowski, currently an assistant professor of school psychology at the University of Arizona, received his M.Ed. degree in 2007 and his Ph.D. diploma in 2011 from UF.  His rapid emergence as a high achiever and rising scholar became evident during his graduate coursework and has carried over into his professional life. While at UF, his dissertation research, investigating college students’ willingness to report threats of violence on campus, received wide coverage in the news media and scholarly publications and contributed to his receiving the College of Education’s 2011 outstanding graduate research award.  Sulkowski completed his predoctoral internship at Louisiana State and a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of South Florida.  At Arizona, he teaches classes on law and ethics in psychology, behavior modification and personality and social-emotional assessment.  His research focuses on how youth are affected by bullying, peer aggression and school violence. Corollary studies finds him exploring the role of bystanders on bullying and aggression. He also is interested in increasing schools’ mental health services and improving students’ emotional well-being through effective interventions.  His clinical specialties include assessing and treating childhood mood, anxiety, tic, obsessive-compulsive spectrum and disruptive behavior disorders.

Brian Dassler

2012 Outstanding Young Alumnus

MEd ’02


While an undergraduate at UF, Dassler’s numerous honors and campus activities led Florida Leader magazine to select him as its 2001 Florida College Student of the Year. He received his M.Ed. degree from UF in 2002 and has been making his mark ever since as a superb teacher and education thought leader. He taught high school English for five years in Broward County and in 2007 became the districts youngest recipient of its Teacher of the Year Award. Dassler last year was named the founding principal of the KIPP Renaissance School in New Orleans, a progressive charter school in the city’s impoverished Upper Ninth Ward. He has served on several state education advisory groups. Opinion columns written by Dassler have received widespread coverage on hot education topics such as the achievement gap in America’s schools and the pros and cons of virtual schooling.

Jocelyn Moore

2012 Outstanding Young Alumna

MEd ’00


Jocelyn Moore chose an unconventional career path in public  policy after earning her master’s in Student Personnel in Higher  Education in 2000, but she attributes her problem-solving and  creative-thinking skills to her UF graduate studies experience.  She has worked for 12 years as a legislative aide in the U.S.  Senate, currently as the legislative director for Sen. John D.  Rockefeller IV.  She oversees the progression of bills and initiatives he is involved in and also is staff director of the Senate finance subcommittee on health care that he chairs. Moore previously worked for former Florida U.S. Sen. Bob Graham and helped him develop a stipend program for all UF students interning on Capitol Hill. Her career highlights include helping to elect President Barack Obama, working with mining companies to improve mine safety, and helping to lead our nation’s health care reform effort. She is a Life Member of the UF Alumni Association and previously served on the board of the Washington, D.C., Gator Club. She volunteers with the Junior League of Washington to promote literacy. She received the 2010 First Focus Champion for Children Award and the 2009 Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust Congressional Staff Leadership Award.

David Horton

2011 Outstanding Young Alumnus

PhD ’09


Shortly after David Horton Jr. received his doctorate in higher education administration from UF in 2009, a search committee for Ohio University’s counseling and higher education department hired him as an assistant professor, impressed by his potential as an outstanding scholar. Within two weeks of his appointment, the committee was proven right when Horton won the 2009 Outstanding Paper/Dissertation Award from the Southeastern Association for Community College Research (SACCR). He also was the SACCR’s featured speaker at its annual conference that year. Horton, who played baseball at the junior college and community college level in Texas, wrote his dissertation on the academic performance of community college athletes, a topic seldom studied. At Ohio University, his teaching and research areas include the organization, governance and funding of higher education, multicultural development, diversity in higher education, the persistence of community college students, and the academic success of student-athletes.  Horton, 33, came to UF with a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in history from Dallas Baptist University. During his doctoral studies, he worked as a recruiter and assistant in the College of Education’s office of outreach, recruitment and retention. He also received funding to attend the College Sports Research Institute’s annual meeting.

alumni-poekert-edited-1030x1030Phillip Poekert

2011 Outstanding Young Alumnus

PhD ’08


Philip Poekert is a clinical assistant professor in the college’s school of teaching and learning and a UF Lastinger for Learning professor-in-residence in Miami.  He began his teaching career in the South Bronx as a Teach for America instructor, but today he is a leader in two UF programs in south Florida.  He directs Ready Schools Miami, which partners UF’s Lastinger Center with Miami-Dade County schools and local community groups. He also coordinates the center’s Florida Master Teacher Initiative, an on-the-job professional development and advanced degree program in education for teachers in Miami‐Dade and across the state. Poekert recently co-authored a successful $6 million federal grant to expand the Master Teacher initiative, offering a new degree track in early childhood education. His group was one of 49 winning applicants, beating out more than 1,600 others nationwide for a share of the stimulus funds.  Poekert previously taught in public schools in Oakland, Los Angeles and West Palm Beach before pursuing his UF doctoral degree.  The National School Reform Faculty organization recognizes Poekert as a national facilitator. His research includes evaluation studies of the impact of collaborative professional development on the instructional practice at the early childhood and elementary level. He has published in several national and international journals, including Teacher Education Quarterly and Professional Development in Education.

David WestlingDavid Westling

2010 Alumnus Achievement

PhD ’76


For anyone who has taken a special education class, there’s a fair chance David Westling wrote the course textbook. Westling has published five major textbooks used in college classes around the nation. Since graduating from UF in 1976 with a doctorate in special education, he has divided his time between teaching and research— studying instruction for students with disabilities and the preparation of special education instructors. He has garnered more than $5.6 million in grant funding in his career and has published over 50 articles in prominent special education publications. Westling has taken his research to an international level; he served as a Fulbright research scholar in Austria in 1994 and was a guest professor in Germany in 1997. Following his travels, he published articles about inclusive practices and support in international schools. He’s now the Adelaide Worth Daniels Distinguished Professor of Special Education at Western Carolina University, where he has taught since 1997. He previously taught at Florida State University for 20 years. Through his research, teaching, writing, and mentoring, Westling has impacted special education tremendously over the last several decades.

alumni-berry-edited-1030x1030Kevin Berry

2010 Outstanding Young Alumnus

BAE ‘97, MEd ‘98, EdS ‘06


Following his internship at Alachua Elementary, he distinguished himself as an exemplary classroom teacher, school leader, and Professional Development Community faculty member.  Kevin is well respected both inside and outside the school as a superior teacher.  He has taught inclusive third and fourth grade classrooms and is presently teaching gifted classes for grades three through five.  Even as a beginning teacher, he showed a mastery of the complexities of positive student management and engaging instructional delivery typical of veteran teachers.  He was one of the school’s first group of National Board Certified teachers and developed a mentoring model to help other teachers earn this designation.  He has also become a leader in using technology to fundamentally change classroom instruction, not just do old things in new ways.  Kevin also has a natural insight into the human machinery of a school that shapes its culture, and is frequently sought after for his advice and guidance.  He was selected by his peers as Teacher of the Year.  Kevin was also instrumental in the success of a pilot Professional Development Community partnership project, which has since expanded to ten other schools.  He was selected by the college to become an onsite adjunct professor providing both subject area coursework and daily clinical supervision for 15-20 pre-interns assigned here each semester.  Teacher Inquiry is a major focus of the pre-internship program, and Kevin has helped the school integrate practitioner research into our culture as a method of ensuring continuous growth.  Because of the success of the PDC model, Kevin has been invited to present at numerous state and national conferences with UF faculty, and is presently a Co-Editor for the Professional Development Schools Journal.

alumni-hull-edited-1030x1030Lesley Hull

2009 Alumnus Achievement

BAE ’86; MAE ’92; Ph.D.’09


Jacksonville marriage and family therapist Lesley Hull regularly steps outside of her own successful counseling practice for adolescents and their families to help the next generation of practitioners at UF prepare for their counseling careers. She has dedicated her life’s work to supporting Florida’s adolescents and youth. Hull received two graduate degrees from UF’s counselor education program, most recently in 1997. In her own practice, she helps adolescents deal with substance abuse problems, focus on school work and redirect their attitudes and actions toward success. She returned to UF in 2004, though, for double-duty as an adjunct faculty instructor and supervisor of UF graduate students in mental health and marriage-and-family counseling. Hull offers her students understanding and structure, bringing real-world situations to light rather than relying strictly on didactic textbook case studies. Whether ministering to an adolescent struggling through puberty or leading counselor education students in self-reflective professional inquiry, Hull delivers inspiring instruction with a compassionate heart. Certified in Florida as a clinical supervisor for mental health licensees and for marriage and family interns, Hull is a member of the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy, the American Counseling Association, and the International Counseling Academic and Professional Honor Society.

Jamee MillerJamee Cagle Miller

2009 Outstanding Young Alumna

BAE ’01, MEd ’02


While Jamee Cagle Miller, a fourth-grade teacher and team leader at Crystal Lake Elementary School in Lake Mary, Fla., teaches with the Sunshine State Standards in mind, she believes teaching goes beyond textbooks. As she explains: “I must equip the students with life skills and street sense … and experiences they need to be successful in life.” Cagle makes it a practice to meet one-on-one with each of her students daily, yet also finds time to supervise junior and senior teaching interns. She recently created a social studies curriculum for the school’s entire fourth-grade program that combines reading assessment benchmarks in tandem with Florida history content. She was named Seminole County 2008 Teacher of the Year, in part, for creating “Cagle’s Caring Crocs” under a $500 grant from the Golden Rule Foundation. The innovative project combines writing assignments with community service opportunities for her students to become role models in their community. She has also been featured as the Orlando Sentinel’s Teacher of the Week and chosen as Evans Elementary Teacher of the Month. Cagle graduated summa cum laude for both of her elementary education degrees from UF: a bachelor’s in 2001 and a master’s in 2002.

Elayne ColonElayne Colon

2009 Outstanding Young Alumna

MAE ’02, PhD ‘05


The College of Education didn’t have to look far before selecting Elayne Colón as a 2009 Outstanding Young Alumna. Just one year after receiving her doctorate in school psychology from UF, the College took notice of her extensive assessment background and hired her to head the its national, state and institutional accreditation efforts, including the arduous preparations for the upcoming 2010 accreditation visit and review by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE ) and the Department of Education. Colón joined the education faculty in 2005, working as a psychoeducational consultant at UF’s Multidisciplinary Diagnostic and Training Program. The MDTP clinic was a collaborative effort between the colleges of Education and Medicine, serving the needs of children with learning and other developmental disabilities. Her research interests include the assessment and remediation of students with learning disabilities, particularly related to difficulties in reading. Other work has focused on curriculum-based measurement, the response-to-intervention model of service delivery in the schools and program evaluation. She has published journal articles in peer-refereed journals, including the Journal of Psychoeducational Assessment, and presented numerous papers at national and state conferences. She holds state and national certifications as a school psychologist.