2022 Higher Education Doctoral Graduates Reunion and Recognition Celebration

Stakeholders and alumni recently gathered for the Higher Education Doctoral Graduates Reunion and Recognition Celebration hosted by the Institute of Higher Education at the University of Florida. The program, held June 4 in the new Norman Hall conference space, included the history, progress and future plans for the institute, and group sessions with current higher education administration faculty, students and alumni. Attendees honored the legacy of founder, James L. Wattenbarger, celebrated 25 years of higher education programs successes, and recognized the 2022 Outstanding Program Graduates.

The Institute of Higher Education (IHE) conducts cutting-edge research and offers data-driven recommendations for higher education administrators and policymakers seeking to better understand the critical problems facing higher education at the local, state, and national level. Through partnerships with individual colleges and state systems, the institute provides rigorous and innovative assessment of current practices and policies aimed at improving student access and success, with a special emphasis on partnering with Florida College System institutions.

In the past five years, IHE has:

  • Recommitted to research-practice partnerships with Florida College System institutions,
  • Established itself as a national leader in work focused on community colleges, state policies, and online education, and
  • Earned millions in external funding from sources including, but not limited to: National Science Foundation, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Helios Education Foundation, Arnold Ventures, William T. Grant Foundation.

Looking to the future, IHE will scale up scale up research-practice partnerships in Florida and beyond. To this end the institute and its researchers will inform national conversations on the role and influence of community colleges, public policies, and online education by continuing to increase engagement with news media, institutional leaders and policymakers.

Attendees celebrated exceptional higher education graduates during the Outstanding Alumni Recognition Luncheon. Awardees for 2022 are:

  • Kevin Clarke (M.Ed. ‘07, Ed.D. ‘14), Director of Human Resources for the University of Florida College of Medicine
  • Karen Ehlers (M.Ed. ’00, Ed.D. ‘14), Director of Professional Post-Graduate Programs for the University of Florida Warrington College of Business
  • Uttam Gaulee (Ph.D. ’16),Professor of Community College Leadership, Morgan State University
  • Xiaodan Hu (Ph.D. ’17), Assistant Professor of Higher Education and Coordinator of the Community College Leadership Program at Northern Illinois University
  • Eugene Jones (M.Ed. ’94, Ph.D. ’10), Executive Dean of the Downtown Campus of Valencia College
  • Diane Porter-Roberts (Ph.D. ’05), Faculty and Academic Coordinator for the University of Florida Innovation Academy
  • Farouk Dey (Ed.S. ’08, Ph.D. ’12), Vice Provost at Johns Hopkins University
  • Shawn Felton (Ed.D. ’11), Interim Dean of the Marieb College of Health and Human Performance and Associate Professor at Florida Gulf Coast University
  • Lyle McKinney (Ph.D. ’10), Associate Professor of Higher Education Leadership and Policy Studies at the University of Houston
  • Lisa Valentino (Ed.D. ’11), Associate Vice President of Academic Services at Seminole State College

Following the outstanding alumni recognition, attendees honored the legacy of Dr. Wattenbarger, the “Father of the Florida College System,” with the the James L. Wattenbarger Institute of Higher Education Classroom dedication.

The reunion and recognition’s success is thanks in large part to a committed group of individuals, including: Dale Campbell, Ph.D., Lisandra De Jesús, Ed.D., Barbara Keener, Ph.D., Lindsay Byron Lynch, Ed.D., Ted Martinez, Ph.D., Ian P. Neuhard, Ed.D., Justin Ortagus, Ph.D., Thomas Walker, Ed.D., and Kristin T. Williams, Ph.D.

During the program, faculty reaffirmed to attendees they are focused on conducting impactful research that addresses the challenging issues facing higher education today and strengthened by the community of UF higher education administration alumni. Learn more about the Institute of Higher Education and higher education administration programs at UF.

James L. Wattenbarger

James L. Wattenbarger