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Senate aide, rising thought leader named Outstanding Young Alumni

One is a former Florida College Student of the Year and a rising star among thought leaders in American education. The other is making a national impact in the political arena as a legislative aide in the U.S. Senate.

They are Brian Dassler (MEd ’02, English education) and Jocelyn Moore (MEd ’00, student personnel in higher education), both named 2012 Outstanding Young Alumni by UF’s College of Education. The UF Alumni Association established the award in 2006 to recognize graduates who are 35 or younger and have distinguished themselves in their profession and community.

Read their profiles below and it’s easy to see why they were selected:

Brian Dassler

Brian Dassler (MEd ’02, English education)
KIPP Renaissance School, New Orleans

While an undergraduate at UF, Dassler’s numerous honors, scholarships 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, not only as a superb teacher, but as a national education thought leader.

He taught high school English for five years in Broward County and in 2007 became the district’s 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 trained for that position through a novel fellowship program of the national KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program) Foundation.

He has served on the Florida PTA Board of Directors and 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 (MEd ’00, SPHE)
Legislative Director
Office of U.S. Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV

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 get President Barack Obama elected, working with mining companies to improve mine safety, and helping to lead our nation’s health care reform effort.

She volunteers with the Junior League of Washington to promote literacy and previously served on the board of the Washington, D.C., Gator Club. She received the 2010 First Focus Champion for Children Award and the 2009 Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust Congressional Staff Leadership Award.

Larry Lansford, director, news & communications, UF College of Education, 352-273-4137;



Professor elected president of nation’s largest counseling association

GAINESVILLE, Fla.—Cirecie West-Olatunji, an associate professor of counselor education at the University of Florida’s College of Education, has been elected president of the American Counseling Association, the nation’s largest counseling professional organization. She will serve one year as president-elect beginning July 1 and will start a one-year term as the group’s 62nd president on the same date next year.


West-Olatunji has held leadership positions at the branch, division and national levels of the ACA, which has more than 43,000 members. She currently serves on the association’s executive committee and on the governing council as a representative of the Association for Multicultural Counseling and Development. She is a past president of the latter group.

She joins an impressive lineup of national leaders from UF’s counselor education program, spanning several decades. The program is ranked second nationally in its specialty area in the U.S. News & World Report’s survey of America’s Best Graduate Schools, and has consistently held a Top 5 national ranking since the mid-1990s.

“Dr. West-Olatunji continues the long-held tradition of UF counselor education faculty serving as national and international leaders of the profession,” said UF education dean Glenn Good, who also has a counseling background.

West-Olatunji said she expects the ACA to be dealing with several major emerging trends during her presidency—including the globalization of counseling and new counseling theories based on patients’ cultural backgrounds, learning how emotional responses to traumatic events (such as natural disasters) can contribute to psychological distress, and “a flurry of theories related to counseling young children age 5 and younger.”

“The next decade in counseling will be very exciting times in which counselors will need to be more responsive than ever,” she said.

West-Olatunji’s research specialty is in multicultural counseling and the role of cultural identity in the psychological, emotional and educational development of socially marginalized students. She has worked with local school communities to improve supportive parenting practices among students in low-income African-American families.

With an unusually high number of natural disasters occurring worldwide in recent years, she has been promoting the need to train more practitioners who can provide counseling for victims of disasters and their surviving family members and friends. She has taken graduate counseling students to New Orleans to assist in post-Katrina disaster recovery efforts. (She earned her master’s and doctorate degrees in counselor education from the University of New Orleans.)

She also has organized national teams of counseling students, faculty and practitioners to travel to South Africa and Botswana for community-based counseling of HIV and AIDS patients.

After visiting post-earthquake Haiti and other recent disaster sites, West-Olatunji has designed a new online certificate program in disaster counseling at UF for licensed mental health professionals and state-certified school counselors drawn to the field. She is developing a training model that can be used in places like New Orleans, Port Au Prince, Haiti, and Japan, and is planning a trip to Latin America for another outreach trip next year.

She has received numerous awards for research and service to the profession from groups such as the AMCD, Florida Counseling Association, Counselors for Social Justice, and the Association for Black Psychologists.


     SOURCE: Cerecie West-Olatunji, associate professor, UF College of Education; (w) 352-273-4324;

     WRITER: Larry Lansford, director, news & communications, UF College of Education, 352-273-4137;


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Special ed researchers winning competition for federal grants

UF principal investigators on active federal IES grants, pictured from left, are Stephen Smith, Mary Brownell, Ann Daunic, Maureen Conroy and Joseph Gagnon. (PIs Cynthia Griffin and Patricia Snyder were unavailable for group photo; they are pictured below.)

Faculty researchers in the University of Florida’s special education program, ranked fourth nationally, have built an impressive track record for winning large, highly competitive grants from the Institute of Education Sciences, the research arm of the U.S. Education Department.

College of Education researchers in early childhood and special education recently received two IES grants worth a combined $5.5 million, supporting two studies aimed at reducing problem behaviors and improving the classroom learning environment. UF professor Maureen Conroy, working under a $4 million award, is examining the efficacy of an experimental intervention in early learning settings—called BEST in CLASS—that showed high promise in a preliminary study. The second grant, worth $1.5 million, supports professors Stephen Smith and Ann Daunic who are developing a lesson series teaching middle school students with significant behavior problems techniques to control their emotions and behavior in social situations.

“Grants awarded by the Institute of Education Sciences are selected because they are the most innovative, important and well-designed projects in a huge pool of applications,” says Jonathon Shuster, a faculty research professor with UF’s Institute for Child Health Policy. “These studies are large in scope with potentially huge payoffs. If new generalized ways can be found for interventions, the investment will be returned thousands of times over by translating these methods to the nation.”

These two latest awards raise the total number of IES grants held by UF special education faculty in 2011 to eight—worth a combined total of more than $15 million. Smith and Daunic recently completed another $1.6 million intervention study that helps students deal with aggressive behavioral issues in the classroom. Supported by a $2 million award, Mary Brownell and colleagues in Colorado and California have developed research-proven professional development packages to help practicing teachers advance their literacy instruction skills for students with learning challenges. Brownell, Smith and Daunic have documented the positive impacts of their respective studies on student reading achievement and behavior.

Four other IES grants active in 2011, each worth about $1.5 million, support other vital projects in special education:

— Daunic, Smith and Nancy Corbett are developing a reading curriculum that combines storybook reading techniques with social stories to encourage students’ critical thinking about managing their emotions and behavior;

Cynthia Griffin

— Joseph Gagnon and Holly Lane are evaluating new literacy instruction and professional development methods for helping teens in juvenile corrections facilities improve their reading skills while they are incarcerated;

— Cynthia Griffin and co-investigators Stephen Pape (mathematics education) and Nancy Dana (teacher leadership for school improvement) are developing an online professional development program for elementary school math teachers serving students with learning disabilities.

Patricia Snyder portrait

Patricia Snyder

— And, in studies involving seven institutions, UF’s Patricia Snyder and co-researchers are documenting the effectiveness of new professional development packages focused on preschool teachers’ use of embedded-instruction practices and the impact of social and emotional influences on early learning.

: Larry Lansford, News & Communications, UF College of Education,; (352) 273-4137

UF names new education dean, citing research strength as key

Glenn E. Good, an education and counseling scholar and an associate dean at the University of Missouri College of Education, has been named the 13th dean of the University of Florida College of Education.

Dean Glenn E. Good

Good’s appointment, the result of a nationwide search, was announced Monday by UF provost Joseph Glover. Good will assume his new post Sept. 29. He succeeds Catherine Emihovich, who is stepping down after nine years as the college’s top administrator. She will remain on faculty as a tenured professor and researcher.

Good has held education associate dean posts at Missouri since 2008. His current title is associate dean for administration, research and performance excellence. He also is a professor of counselor psychology and has been a Missouri faculty member since 1990. His research focuses on gender issues in education, mental health, counseling and psychotherapy.

He has generated close to $1 million in research grants in his career and twice was named Researcher of the Year by the Society for the Psychological Study of Men and Masculinity, a division of the American Psychological Association. He currently is conducting a clinical trial funded by the National Institutes of Health, assessing the effectiveness of student-provided interventions for smoking cessation and diet improvement.

“Dr. Good’s exceptional background in education research and research funding made him an ideal candidate and an excellent choice. We look forward to his arrival,” Glover said.

Good has completed the Management Development Program at Harvard University and the President’s Academic Leadership Development Institute of the University of Missouri system. He previously was named mentor/adviser of the year by the College of Education and has received several awards for teaching excellence, including the Kemper Teaching Fellowship which is the University of Missouri’s highest teaching honor.

He is a licensed psychologist in California and Missouri and is a fellow in numerous organizations, including the American Psychological Association, Psychology of Women, Society for the Psychology of Men and Masculinity, and the Division of Psychotherapy.

He is the author or co-author of five books and some 88 published journal reports and book chapters on counseling and psychotherapy.

“This is a transformative time in education,” Good said. “I look forward to assisting the outstanding faculty, staff and students of the University of Florida College of Education in pioneering innovative advances in educator preparation and associated fields upon which the future of our society depends.”

Good received his doctorate in counseling psychology in 1987 from Ohio State University. He has a master’s in counseling from the University of Oregon and a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Davis.

At UF, Good will assume leadership of a college of education with national credentials similar to his current school. The Florida and Missouri education colleges, coincidentally, share the No. 52 slot in the latest U.S. News and World Report rankings of America’s Best Graduate Schools in education. Both schools also have top 10 counselor education programs, which is Good’s academic specialty, with Missouri ranked eighth and UF second.

Good inherits a 105-year-old college at UF with four other top 20 programs: in special education (No. 4), elementary teacher education (15th), curriculum and instruction (17th) and secondary education (19th). UF’s College of Education is considered a national leader in contemporary education reform, partnering with more than 300 public schools across Florida in whole-school improvement efforts and free, on-the-job degree programs and professional development for teachers at high-need schools.

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SOURCE: Glenn E. Good, newly appointed dean, UF College of Education;; 573-882-9644

WRITER: Larry Lansford, Director, COE News & Communications,; 352-273-4137

coE-News: July 1, 2011

July 1, 2011                                                      The Friday Post                                                 Vol. 7, No. 1

You’re reading coE-News, an electronic newsletter produced several times a year by the College of Education News & Communications Office to keep faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends up-to-date on college news, activities and achievements.

GOT NEWS? We want to hear it. Submit individual or unit news and calendar events of collegewide interest to for publication consideration. All submissions must be in writing or via e-mail and must include contact information for follow-up questions. (Include full titles and program areas of featured faculty and staff; for featured students, include their program area, degree status and major or concentration area.)


Researchers awarded $5.5M in grants to help teachers reduce disruptive classroom behavior

University of Florida researchers in special education and early childhood studies have received two federal grants totaling $5.5 million to conduct studies aimed at reducing significant behavior problems in children that can disrupt the classroom learning environment. Their intervention research targets at-risk children during two of the most critical times of their development—before they enter kindergarten and the transitional middle school years (grades 6 through 8). The  grants were awarded by the Institute of Education Sciences, the research arm of the U.S. Department of Education. Maureen Conroy is leading the prekindergarten study, while Stephen Smith and Ann Daunic are developing a lesson series teaching middle school students with significant behavior problems techniques to control their emotions and behavior in social situations. (more)

Businesswoman’s $1M gift creates professorship in early childhood studies

Entrepreneur Anita Zucker, a 1972 UF education graduate, last year challenged fellow alumni who had never contributed to make an annual donation to the College of Education. sweetening the deal by matching such gifts dollar-for-dollar. Today, Zucker is leading by example, pledging $1 million to create a second endowed professorship in early childhood studies at the college. (more)

Re-igniting middle school reform is goal of Shewey Scholars program

photo of 2011-12 Shewey Scholars

Newly appointed Shewey Scholars are, back row: Maureen Shankman, Darby Delane, Colleen Swain, Odalis Manduley, Donna Reid; Front row: advisers Kathy Shewey, Paul George, Nancy Dana. Not pictured: Scholars Phillip Koslowski, Joy Schadkow.

UF’s College of Education has launched a professional scholars program–teaming UF education faculty with Alachua County middle-school teachers and district administrators–to ignite a grassroots movement to reform the nation’s troubled middle-school education system. Three UF education professors and four Alachua County middle school teachers were introduced recently as members of the inaugural class of the Shewey Scholars program. They include COE faculty members Colleen Swain (curriculum and instruction), Darby Delane (university-school partnerships coordinator for the School of Teaching and Learning) and Joy Schackow (STL/Lastinger Center professor-in-residence in Pinellas County schools). (more)


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College News & Notices

Course syllabi going online starting fall semester

UF administration now requires that the syllabi for all courses and sections offered each semester must be posted on publicly accessible websites starting this fall. Syllabi must be posted in PDF format at least three days prior to the first day of classes–that’s Aug. 19 for the fall semester. The mandate applies to all courses offered face-to-face, online and in blended formats. The COE has created designated space on the college website for posting the syllabi of all COE courses. For more information, contact your school director or Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Tom Dana.

Submit your scholarly works to UF’s ‘Open Access’ digital archive

UF’s Institutional Repository is soliciting journal articles, grant proposals, dissertations, monographs, podcasts, and other scholarly work from faculty and students to be archived and made publicly available through Open Access, the digital archive for the intellectual output of the University of Florida community. Open Access provides free, permanent, web-based access to to all scholarly publications and academic artifacts submitted. It’s a way to improve visibility for faculty and student scholarship and share scholarly work in the broadest forum possible. Visit the IR@UF site ( for more information and a self-submittal tool, or contact Ben Walker, head of the UF Education Library, at 352-273-2545.

Subscribe to COE’s YouTube account

The College of Education has its own YouTube account on the “educationUF” channel where you can view a number of informative videos about the college and the activities of its faculty, students and alumni. The site also allows visitors to subscribe and receive notification when new COE videos are posted. Seven videos are currently posted, including “EduGator Nation,” an overview of the college, and “Molding Master Teachers,” describing the award-winning Florida Master Teachers Initiative of the college’s Lastinger Center for Learning. Check it out at Additional videos are planned.

Staff dedicates lounge to dean

The college staff recently dedicated Norman Hall’s staff lounge to Dean Catherine Emihovich (pictured, right, at ceremony holding framed photo). Emihovich, who is stepping down from the college’s top executive post in August but will remain a tenured faculty member, said she recognized the need for a staff lounge immediately upon her arrival at UF in 2002 and made it one of her priorities. The lounge, which opened in 2010 as part of extensive renovations in Old Norman, features a kitchen, microwave oven, refrigerator, sofa, chairs, table and a full bookshelf.

Did you know . . . about UF and Google?

The University of Florida heads the current list of the top 20 most googled colleges and universities in the United States,according to CampusSplash, a blog on college life and admissions hosted by the Huffington Post news website. Campus Splash staff took it upon themselves to compile the list based on stats provided by Google’s traffic estimator.


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Honors & Appointments


Ponjuan draws widespread attention to education barriers facing Latino males


A report written by COE Assistant Professor Luis Ponjuan on “The Vanishing Latino Male in Higher Education” was the most downloaded article in 2010 in the Journal of Hispanic Higher Education. Ponjuan, director of the college’s Institute of Higher Education, continues to draw attention to the academic plight of Hispanic-Latino males in America’s education system. On June 16, he presented his research findings on the topic at the headquarters of the National Education Association in Washington, D.C. His audience of NEA governance leaders, executive managers, staff and invited guests heard his 90-minute report on the overwhelming barriers that Latino boys face on their educational journeys towards higher education. (See news media coverage generated by his reports at end of this e-newsletter under “In The News.”)


Doctoral student featured in TV news report on iPads as teaching tool

Jon Munford, a Collier County fifth-grade teacher and a doctoral student in the COE’s online Ed.D. Professional Practice degree program, was featured recently in a television news report by WBBH-TV (Ft. Myers/Naples NBC affiliate) on the use of iPads as a teaching tool. That happens to be a topic covered in one of Munford’s distance-learning courses the previous semester by UF education professor Nancy Dana.

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In the News

Below is a sampling of recent news media reports featuring the College of Education and its faculty, students and alumni.


June 30, 2011

Gainesville Sun / Independent Florida Alligator: M. Conroy, S. Smith, A. Daunic (Spec. Ed)


The Gainesville Sun and the Florida Alligator (UF’s campus newspaper) both published front-page stories on two grants from the U.S. Department of Education, worth a combined $5.5 million, awarded to UF researchers in special education and early childhood studies to pursue interventions aimed at reducing significant behavior problems in children that can disrupt the classroom learning environment. The UF researchers were Maureen Conroy, Stephen Smith and Ann Daunic.

June 26, 2011

The Chronicle of Higher Education: Luis Ponjuan (UF Institute of Higher Education)

The Chronicle covered Luis Ponjuan’s presentation June 24 at the Latino Male Symposium, in Austin, Tex., in which he declared that Latino men are “vanishing from the higher-education pipeline, a trend that could spell serious trouble given current demographic trends.”

June 26, 2011

St. Petersburg Times: Lastinger Center for Learning

Pinellas County superintendent Julie Janssen told School Board members last week that Melrose Elementary School will proceed with plans to create a partnership with UF’s Lastinger Center for Learning to transform Melrose into the district’s first professional learning school. The Times reported the story in an article published June 26. An earlier story, June 7, in Gradebook, the Times’ education blog, had reported the temporary postponement of the partnership.

June 21, 2011

Gainesville Sun: Anita Zucker (distinguished alumna/donor)

An article in the Sun reported on 1972 education alumna Anita Zucker’s $1 million pledge to create an endowed professorship in the college’s early childhood studies program.

May 2, 2011

Hispanic Outlook magazine: Luis Ponjuan (Institute of Higher Education)

Ponjuan was quoted in a 3-page article about how Hispanic males lagged substantially behind Hispanic females and other minorities of both genders at nearly every critical juncture of the higher education pipeline. The article also mentioned two upcoming symposiums on the topic, June 13 at UF and June 24 at UT-Austin, organized by Ponjuan and co-researchers Mary Ann Clark (UF counselor education) and Victor Saenz (UT-Austin).

April 28, 2011

Education Daily: Lastinger Center for Learning

With $5 million from the U.S. Education Department’s Investing in Innovation (i3) Fund, UF’s Lastinger Center will expand its Master Teacher Initiative, which gives K-12 teachers working in high-poverty schools job-embedded, classroom-oriented training to include pre-K educators. This news report also appeared on the website of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE).

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Researchers awarded $5.5M in grants to help teachers reduce disruptive classroom behavior

University of Florida education researchers have received two federal grants totaling $5.5 million to conduct studies aimed at reducing significant behavior problems in children that can disrupt the classroom learning environment.

Their intervention research targets at-risk children during two of the most critical times of their development—before they enter kindergarten and the transitional middle school years (grades 6 through 8). The highly competitive grants were awarded by Institute of Education Sciences, the research arm of the U.S. Department of Education.

Maureen Conroy

The prekindergarten study, funded by a $4 million grant, is a joint effort between special education and early-childhood specialists at UF and Virginia Commonwealth University. Co-researchers Maureen Conroy of UF and Kevin Sutherland of VCU will examine the efficacy of their experimental intervention—called BEST in CLASS—that showed high promise in a preliminary study.

The four-year investigation will involve 120 voluntary prekindergarten classrooms, most of them in Head Start programs, split between UF’s home region in North Central Florida and VCU’s hometown of Richmond, Va. Each year, 90 children identified as high-risk for emotional and behavioral disorders will undergo the intervention; a second group of 90 at-risk children will serve as a comparison group.

“As many as one-fourth of children in Head Start classes exhibit significant problem behaviors that place them at elevated risk for future development, and most have never been in structured classroom situations before,” Conroy said. “Through 14 weeks of classroom-based coaching, we will train teachers to implement effective instructional strategies for improving children’s emotional behavior competence.”

Conroy said the BEST in CLASS model emphasizes both individual and class-wide interventions to improve interactions between the teacher and students and enhance the overall classroom atmosphere for learning.

“Teachers discuss classroom rules and routines with students and praise specific positive behavior—for example, sitting and waiting their turn in a circle during a game or sharing time,” she said. “Such strategies aren’t necessarily new, but we show teachers how to use them more precisely and intensely for given situations.

“The teacher works to prevent any problem behaviors during typical classroom activities.”

The treatment also has a home-school component where teachers send home a daily “behavior report card” stating, in a positive manner, how their child behaved or which corrective behaviors they learned that day.

Stephen Smith

The second federal grant, worth $1.5 million, supports the work of University of Florida special education professors Stephen Smith and Ann Daunic, who are developing a lesson series teaching middle school students with significant behavior problems techniques to control their emotions and behavior in social situations.

“The middle school years are difficult enough for students in their pre-teen and early adolescent years. Those with serious emotional and behavioral disorders face tremendous obstacles to learning,” Smith said. “They require focused attention to help them develop the essential skills for modifying their behavior, and we need to catch them before they drop out of school or end up in the juvenile or adult justice systems.”

Smith and Daunic are developing a curriculum for teachers of children with emotional and behavioral disorders, and they’ve given it a name—In Control—that’s as much a mantra for the students as it is the title of their program. It’s actually a two-unit, 26-lesson curriculum that shows students how their minds work and how they can use that knowledge to take control over their own behavior and their learning process.

“We are developing lessons that tap self-control skills such as monitoring your thoughts, inhibiting impulses, planning better, and adapting to changing situations,” Smith said. “These high-level skills—known collectively as ‘executive functions’—are fundamental to helping students set personal goals, control their emotions and improve their social problem-solving abilities.”

Ann Daunic

Starting in August, the researchers will spend two years developing and testing the In Control lessons in collaboration with special education teachers, school counselors and school psychologists at two Gainesville schools—Lincoln and Fort Clarke middle schools. Participating students will be from small classrooms especially for students with emotional and behavioral disorders.

Smith and Daunic will continually refine and polish the curriculum and expand testing in the third year. If their curriculum effectively improves students’ behavior and learning, the researchers will publish their preliminary findings and develop a professional development package for additional large-scale testing.

“Up to 10 percent of middle school students have significant behavioral issues that merit some attention outside of what is normally provided in our education system,” Smith said. “There aren’t many intervention resources available for these students that are effective and teacher-friendly. Our comprehensive program will provide long-term instructional impact.”

: Maureen Conroy, professor in special education and early childhood studies, UF College of Education, 352-273-4382;

: Stephen Smith, professor in special education, UF College of Education, 352-273-4263;

: Ann Daunic, associate scholar in special education, UF College of Education, 352-273-4270;

Larry Lansford, Office of News & Communications, UF College of Education,; 352-273-4137;

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Businesswoman’s $1 million gift creates professorship in early childhood studies

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Entrepreneur Anita Zucker, a 1972 education graduate of the University of Florida, last year challenged fellow alumni who had never contributed to make an annual donation to the College of Education. Zucker, a 2010 recipient of UF’s Distinguished Alumni Award, sweetened the deal by matching such gifts dollar-for-dollar.

Today, Zucker is leading by example by pledging $1 million to create an endowed professorship in early childhood studies at the college. Her contribution will generate an additional $120,000 in funds from the Faculty Now incentive program established by UF President Bernie Machen to generate more faculty endowments. Zucker’s is the first gift made to the College of Education through the program.

Anita Zucker

The post’s formal name will be the Anita Zucker Endowed Professorship in Early Childhood Studies. College officials say they will fill the professorship with a top scholar in that academic specialty. Yearly interest earned on the gift will fund groundbreaking research, teaching and clinical programs conducted by the appointed scholar.

Zucker’s gift follows the creation of a new interdisciplinary Center for Excellence in Early Childhood Studies in December. The campuswide center is a model training, demonstration and research site where UF scholars—in fields as diverse as education, medicine, law, public health and the life sciences—work with local, state and national partners to advance the science and practice of early childhood development and early learning.

The Zucker professorship becomes the second endowed position in the College of Education’s early childhood studies program. World-class scholar Patricia Snyder occupies the David Lawrence Jr. Endowed Chair in Early Childhood Studies, created in 2007.

“Establishing this new interdisciplinary professorship, alongside the existing Lawrence chair, ensures that early childhood studies will remain a strong focus at the University of Florida, and a resource for the state and nation, for years to come,” said Snyder, who was instrumental in mobilizing the university’s top specialists in childhood education, health and well-being to create the new center for excellence.

Zucker is a former teacher, a lifetime education advocate, a history-making businesswoman, and one of Charleston, South Carolina’s leading citizens. She and her late husband, Jerry, received bachelor’s degrees from UF in 1972 — Anita in education and Jerry with a triple major in math, chemistry and physics. Anita taught elementary school for 10 years and also has a master’s in educational administration and supervision.

When Jerry Zucker died in 2008, Anita succeeded him as chief executive officer of the Hudson Bay Company, North America’s oldest company. She is the company’s first woman CEO. She also heads the family’s InterTech Group company, the North Charleston-based global conglomerate.

“The early childhood years are the most critical time for learning in a young person. That’s when they build their foundation and learn their vocabulary needs for life,” Zucker said. “Creating this professorship ensures the University of Florida will always have a top scholar who can prepare our future educators to teach our youngest children so they can succeed in school and life.”

She raised almost $100,000 last year in her Anita Zucker Alumni Challenge, including her dollar-for-dollar match of nearly $50,000. She says she hopes her latest gift inspires other large contributions to the College of Education.

“Education unlocks all doors for the future and we need to provide it to our young people to increase their chances for success,” Zucker said.

Source: Pat Snyder, 352-273-4291,
Writer: Larry Lansford, 352-273-4137,


Nominations due April 8 for Scholarship of Engagement awards

The University of Florida’s College of Education is accepting nominations until April 8 for the 9th annual Scholarship of Engagement Awards competition for college and university faculty and graduate students, educators and education advocates in Alachua County and UF-partnering school districts around the state.

The college annually honors the year’s most noteworthy efforts in engaged scholarship, which involves innovative research and academic activities pursued specifically to make a meaningful difference in education and people’s lives. Engagement often involves partnerships and building connections with schools, families, school districts, community groups and government agencies to lead for change in a world where transformation in education and society is essential.

Nominations are due April 8, and should be sent to:
Jennifer Reeger
UF College of Education
P.O. Box 117040
Gainesville, FL  32611-7040

Or email your nomination letters to: (

The winners (and their nominators) will be invited to attend the college’s Faculty Research and Engaged Scholarship  Showcase (FRESS) to be held in the fall, where they will receive a plaque in honor of their work.

The Scholarship of Engagement awards are adapted from renowned 20th century educator Ernst Boyer’s vision that research-oriented universities need to broaden their concept of scholarship to reflect the issues and concerns of society at large.

As Boyer noted: “Scholarship means engaging in original research. But the work of the scholar also means stepping back from one’s investigation, looking for connections, building bridges between theory and practice, and communicating one’s knowledge effectively to students. Institutions should consider broadening the scope of the term ‘scholarship’ to recognize these four activities – discovery, integration, application, and teaching – as separate but overlapping dimensions of scholarship.”

Along with Boyer’s criteria, the College of Education also considers these elements: the impact the scholar’s work has had; wide dissemination through channels other than just scholarly journals; research that is focused on the ‘public good’; an integration of scholarship with teaching; time spent in a site (applies to field-based research); strong collaboration with other partners; a concern for equity and social justice; and, in the case of school/community nominees, effective translation of research results into action.

In the words of the English philosopher Herbert Spencer, “The great aim of education is not knowledge but action.”

Awards will be presented in the following categories:
College of Education (three faculty members, one P.K. Yonge teacher)
Graduate student
School district

The 2010 winners were:
University – Francis E. “Jack” Putz, biology, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences;
College of Education faculty – Tim Jacobbe (School of Teaching and Learning); Joseph Gagnon (School of Special   Education, School Psychology, and Early Childhood Studies); David Miller (School of  Human Development and Organizational Studies in Education); Randy Hollinger (P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School);
COE graduate student: Brian Barber (School of Human Development and Organizational Studies in Education);
School district – Julie Janssen, superintendent, Pinellas County School District;
Community – Karen Bricklemyer, president and CEO, United Way, North Central Florida

Nomination Process
Each COE school will select a recipient who best meets the intent of this award. P.K. Yonge School will follow a similar procedure. To nominate someone for the remaining categories, please submit a letter (no more than 2 pages) describing the candidate’s accomplishments, and explain why you believe she or he merits this award based on the criteria listed above (Previous nominees may be nominated again). Please do not send additional documentation apart from the nomination letter.

All nominations will be reviewed by a committee and winners will be informed in early May.