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Special Ed’s Gage recognized as rising international scholar in emerging field

Nicholas Gage, a UF assistant professor in special education, has gained international recognition for his early-career research success and commitment to advancing the emerging science of positive behavior support.

N.-GageGage is one of two recipients of the 2015 Ted Carr Initial Research Award, presented by the international Association for Positive Behavior Support. The annual honor goes to emerging researchers whose work reflects conceptual sophistication, applied relevance and promise of substantial contribution to the field.

Gage was honored at the APBS International Conference in March.

Positive behavior support, or PBS, focuses on intervention strategies that are compassionate, productive and educationally oriented to help individuals develop constructive behaviors to meet their life goals in social relationships, employment, academic achievement, health and other areas.

Gage’s research is dedicated to helping all students succeed in school, focusing particularly on students at risk of, or receiving special education services for, emotional-behavioral disorders. He has specific expertise in statistical modeling, research design and methods, and functional behavioral assessment.

“I believe my research and service efforts will have a positive and lasting impact on the college’s relationship with local schools and schools statewide,” he said.

After he earned his Ph.D. in special education from the University of Missouri, Gage was an Institute of Education Sciences post-doctoral fellow with the Center for Behavioral Education and Research at the University of Connecticut, working on statistical and methodological advances in the emotional and behavioral disorders research field.

   SOURCE: Nicholas Gage, UF assistant professor in special education, UF College of Education;
   WRITER: Candice Wynter, communications intern, UF College of Education;
   MEDIA CONTACT: Larry Lansford, communications director, UF College of Education;; 352-273-4137


Professor emerita of counselor ed. named ACA Fellow

The world’s largest nonprofit organization representing professional counselors has awarded College of Education professor emerita Mary Ann Clark with one of its highest honors.

Mary Ann Clark1Clark, a full-time UF faculty member in counselor education from 2000-2014, will be inducted as an American Counseling Association Fellow on March 14 at the organization’s annual conference in Orlando.

The prestigious distinction is given to those who make significant contributions to the counseling field through teaching and training, professional practice, scientific achievement and governance.

Jacqueline Swank, a colleague in counselor education, nominated Clark for the award.

“She has shown an unwavering commitment to the counseling profession for nearly 40 years, demonstrating excellence in all areas possible,” she said.

Clark received her Ph.D. in counselor education from UF in 1998. Just two years later, she returned to the college as a faculty member.

With more than 100 publications and professional presentations, Clark receives national and international recognition for her scholarly endeavors. Her research agenda focuses on gender differences in cross cultural educational achievement and social development.

At UF, Clark was named the Graduate Faculty Teacher of the Year in 2008 and the B.O. Smith Endowed Professor Research Professor for 2006-2008.

Clark still teaches at the college on a phased retirement schedule, working full-time in the fall, but on leave during the spring semester.

   SOURCE: Mary Ann Clark, Professor Emerita of Counselor ed., UF College of Education;
   WRITER: Candice Wynter, communications intern, UF College of Education;
   MEDIA CONTACT: Larry Lansford, communications director, UF College of Education;; 352-273-4137

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UF scholars program taps 7 ProTeach students, 3 faculty mentors


Gisselle Morrobel (l-r), Lauren Harris and Amy Strong.

Seven COE ProTeach undergraduates have been named UF Anderson Scholars for their outstanding academic performances, and three faculty members have been recognized for mentoring several of the honored students.

Anderson Scholar certificates are given campuswide by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences to students who have earned cumulative grade point averages of at least 3.90 (with distinction); 3.95 (with higher distinction); and 4.0 (with highest distinction) during their first two years at UF.

This year’s Anderson Scholars from the COE are Elizabeth Bee, Marissa Elordi, Lauren Harris, Olivia Montero, Gisselle Morrobel, Amy Strong and Mallory Wood.

COE faculty honorees are Mary Ann Nelson, special education lecturer; clinical assistant professor Caitlin Gallingane; and Ashley MacSuga-Gage, visiting assistant professor of special education.

All seven students are majoring in elementary education, and two of them – Montero and Morrobel – received Anderson Scholar certificates With Highest Distinction.


Olivia Montero and Elizabeth Bee.

“Being an Anderson Scholar means never losing sight of the goal of your hard work,” Montero said. “It means having people to support you and your studies to reach your goal. I couldn’t have done any of this without the encouragement and prayers of my family, fiancé, and friends.”

Morrobel couldn’t agree more.

“It’s an honor and a symbol of perseverance and dedication in pursuing my dreams,” she said.

Gallingane said she and other COE professors work as closely as they can with undergraduate students because they identify with students’ concerns as they prepare for careers in a constantly evolving profession.

“I try to see things from their perspective and give them the support they need to be successful,” Gallingane said. “I act as an advocate because I care about their experience at UF.”

The award is named in honor of James N. Anderson, who served as the first dean of the College of Arts and Sciences from 1910 until 1930. Anderson Hall bears his name.


Faculty mentors honored were Mary Ann Nelson (l-r), Ashley MacSuga-Gage and Caitlin Gallingane.

Students31 copy

Marissa Elordi


Mallory Wood


Higher ed. alumna joins college administration in Jamaica

UF higher education administration alumna Zaria Malcolm (PhD ’11) was recently appointed vice principal of academic affairs and institutional advancement at Excelsior Community College in Kingston, Jamaica.

Malcolm, a native of Jamaica, earned her doctorate at UF with a concentration in qualitative research methodology.

“The program and degree from UF was the best possible preparation for the work I’m doing now,” she said.

During her UF studies, Malcolm received major scholarships, including the Graduate School Fellowship, the university’s most prestigious graduate student award. The fellowship program is intended to recruit the most qualified students to pursue graduate-level study and research at UF.

She attended UF under a special Fulbright scholarship awarded to select students who come to UF from abroad to pursue their graduate studies with an expectation that they will return to their home country upon graduation and contribute to national development.

“I always had it in the back of my mind that I was going home to contribute to Jamaica’s education system,” she said.

As an administrator, Malcolm has a special interest in providing more opportunities for both students and faculty at Excelsior to receive international exposure and experience.

“In the field of education, I think we need to help to develop not just national citizens but global citizens,” she said

Malcolm said she has a lifelong connection to her alma mater and appreciates the Gator Nations’ involvement with the rest of the world. With such a wide reach, she believes the higher education program at UF can contribute to the development of educational leadership not just in the United States, but internationally.

“There are really good people and programs in the College of Education,” she said. “I think we need to highlight that in order to take the Gator Nation even higher.”


   SOURCE: Zaria Malcolm,vice principal of academic affairs and institutional advancement , Excelsior Community College; 
   WRITER: Candice Wynter, communications intern, UF College of Education;
   MEDIA CONTACT: Larry Lansford, communications director, UF College of Education;; 352-273-4137


Statistics Ed. doctoral student selected as CADRE fellow

Douglas Whitaker, a UF doctoral fellow in statistics education, is one of 10 recipients selected as a 2014-15 fellow for the Community for Advancing Discovery Research in Education (CADRE), a collaboration between the National Science Foundation and the non-profit Education Development Center.


The CADRE fellowship program serves as a capacity-building experience for early career researchers and developers currently working on NSF Discovery Research projects.

As a CADRE fellow, Whitaker will gain increased exposure to research, examine the effectiveness of STEM education initiatives and help build a network of STEM professionals from across the country.

“The fellowship is part award and part professional development,” Whitaker said. “Its aim is to help early-career researchers fill in their gaps.”

Whitaker began his UF doctoral fellowship at the College of Education in 2012 and is expected to graduate in August 2016. He works as an instructor and research assistant in UF’s statistics education program. His current research involves the assessment of statistical concepts and educator preparation for the teaching of statistics in the middle- and high school grades.

After graduating, Whitaker plans to pursue a higher-education career in mathematics education. He recognizes the College of Education as a significant part of his professional development and planning.

“The degree program I’m in really emphasizes the principle of career trajectories,” Whitaker said. “This perspective has helped me plan for the future and shape my views about where I was, where I am and where I want to be.”

   SOURCE: Douglas Whitaker, UF doctoral fellow in statistics education;
   WRITER: Candice Wynter, communications intern, UF College of Education;
   MEDIA CONTACT: Larry Lansford, communications director, UF College of Education;; 352-273-4137


Kumar’s online learning article makes ‘journalistic’ history

Swapna Kumar, a clinical assistant professor of educational technology at the College of Education, has added another published article to her CV — but this one comes with a bit of history.

KUMAR, Swapna3Kumar’s “Quality Considerations in the Design and Implementation of an Online Doctoral Program” appeared as the first of eight articles in the inaugural issue of the Journal of Online Doctoral Education, which went online in June. The biannual e-journal features outstanding scholarly contributions in online doctoral education from researchers around the world.

“It’s a ‘Dos and Don’ts’ kind of an article about how to offer a quality online doctoral program,” said Kumar, who coordinates the online doctoral program in the COE’s educational technology program. “If it’s thoughtfully designed, online learning can make a huge difference in the lives of professional adults.

“They tend to work really hard and apply what they learn,” she added. “It’s satisfying to see them grow professionally and make a difference with their research.”  

Journal editor Gregory T. Bradley said Kumar and other leading online education scholars were invited to submit articles for the launch of the Summer 2014 edition.

“Dr. Kumar’s article is of tremendous value to our readers because quality considerations are at the core of accredited online institutions,” Bradley said. “The content has resonated with faculty and administrators who are involved in designing online graduate programs.”

Kumar mentors graduate students and teaches courses on distance learning, blended learning, technology integration and educational technology research. Her article in the Journal of Online Doctoral Education can be found online at


    Source: Swapna Kumar;; 352-273-4175. 

    Media Relations: Larry Lansford, director, College of Education Office of News and Communications;; 352-273-4137.

    Writer: Stephen Kindland, College of Education Office of News and Communications;; 352-273-3449.


‘Tools for getting along’ helps schoolchildren solve social conflicts

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Two University of Florida special education researchers have found a method to help at-risk students with significant behavioral problems learn to calm aggressive tendencies and actively solve their social conflicts.

Researchers Stephen Smith and Ann Daunic

For the past 15 years, UF College of Education researchers Stephen Smith, the Irving and Rose Fien Endowed Professor, and associate scholar Ann Daunic have been developing a curriculum that would target these students’ problem-solving skills. The curriculum, Tools for Getting Along, known as TFGA, gives upper elementary students processes for approaching social problems rationally.

“A lot of times when kids are having a social conflict with another person, it can be emotion-laden,” Smith said. “Because of that, they can end up with an irrational approach to solving their problems, often through physical or verbal aggression, or some other inappropriate behavior that doesn’t really achieve what they want to achieve.”

Daunic and Smith’s latest evaluation of their problem-solving curriculum appeared in a spring issue of the Journal of School Psychology. Smith said the paper is the first to reveal the curriculum’s effectiveness.

In the study, the curriculum was randomly assigned to about half of the 87 fourth- and fifth-grade classrooms observed in 14 schools in North Central Florida with the other half receiving no intervention. Almost 1,300 students participated in the study.

Between 70 and 87 percent of the students in both groups studied received free and reduced price lunch, an attribute of socioeconomic status that can contribute to risk for emotional and behavioral difficulties. The researchers also considered gender and race, which can also be associated with this risk.

“While the target of Tools for Getting Along is children who have difficulties, it’s also a preventive curriculum because it is implemented classwide with the idea that peers will help at-risk children see that there are other ways to solve problems that are more productive,” Daunic said.

The curriculum contains instructional lessons, role-play scenarios, small-group activities and practice opportunities. Then, the effects of tool kit’s 27 lessons were evaluated through teacher and student self-reports, observations and other measures.

Smith said the most significant findings of the recent study measuring TFGA’s effects were the improvements in teacher ratings of students’ “executive functions” — a psychological term describing a set of mental processes, including attention flexibility, working memory for temporarily storing and organizing information, and inhibitory control—that help us regulate our emotions and behaviors in new situations.

With better attention flexibility, students are able to shift their attention from being on the aggressive offense in a social conflict to thinking through alternative strategies. Improvement in working memory and inhibitory control enhances students’ ability to stop and think before acting upon emotions.

“I think this shows a good example of what teachers can do for kids to allow them to equip themselves with a way to handle their own behavior,” Smith said. “It’s an opportunity for students to learn how to control behavior when teachers aren’t there to manage it for them, like at recess, in the cafeteria, on the school bus and at home.”

Daunic said that the study’s results are particularly important in light of current research in neuropsychology and neuroscience that ties children’s emotional well-being with their behavior in school and academic success.

“As more research comes out about the brain and how we learn, there’s more support for interventions that help young people regulate their emotions and regulate their thought processes socially and academically,” Daunic said. “What makes me feel good about this kind of work is that there’s more and more evidence about its importance.”

According to Daunic, positive effects of Tools for Getting Along have endured even a year after the study took place. The researchers are now writing a paper about the curriculum’s longer-term effects and analyzing more data. Their findings will then be reviewed by national educational review panels, or clearinghouses, and considered for designation as a preferred, “evidence-based practice” in education.

The curriculum is available for purchase by teachers and schools at 

    Source: Stephen W. Smith, UF professor of special education, 352-273-4263;
Alexa Lopez, UF College of Education, news and communications, 352-273-4449
    Media contact: Larry Lansford, director, UF College of Education news & communication, 352-273-4137

UF Lastinger Center partners to create free online app to help students prep for Algebra end-of-course exam

Don Pemberton, director of the University of Florida Lastinger Center for Learning

More than 40 percent of Florida middle and high school students failed the spring 2012 Algebra 1 End-of-Course, or EOC, exam. Vulnerable children fared even worse. In many high-needs schools, the failure rate topped 80 percent.

Florida students must pass the Algebra 1 EOC to earn a high school diploma.

“Algebra is a key STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) subject,” said Don Pemberton, who directs the University of Florida College of Education’s Lastinger Center. “It serves as a gatekeeper to success in high school and beyond.”

To help students succeed on the 2013 EOC exam, the UF Lastinger Center has joined forces with Gainesville-based Study Edge to create Algebra Nation – an intensive, accessible, easy-to-use, free, 24/7 online preparation resource.

UF education professors have dissected the material tested on the EOC and aligned Algebra Nation with the latest state standards.

“Algebra Nation is based on the latest research and best practices,” Study Edge founder and president Ethan Fieldman said. “And it features some of Florida’s top math teachers.”

Algebra Nation launches as a free app statewide Jan. 15. This represents the first phase in a grand effort to help accelerate and upgrade learning throughout Florida. UF and Study Edge plan to create and roll out Geometry Nation, Biology Nation and other EOC exam preparation resources next year.

These cutting-edge online resources utilize social learning and technological breakthroughs to construct and stage a vibrant e-learning system for students, teachers and parents. Intuitive and interactive, they offer differentiated instruction through live and asynchronous tutoring, as well as other effective learning tools.

“We are deeply respectful of educators and have designed Algebra Nation as a powerful supplemental tool,” said Pemberton, a member of Gov. Rick Scott’s educational transition team. “At a time when teachers are being evaluated on their students’ standardized test scores, they need targeted supports, particularly when it comes to preparing for the End-of-Course exams. Algebra Nation is the answer.”

Study Edge has achieved success at improving college student outcome. Fieldman, its founder and president, was the first winner of the Cade Museum Prize for Innovation. Study Edge experts have succeeded not only at the college level but also with a test-prep program for AP courses at Boca Raton Community High School over the past five years.

Housed in the UF College of Education, the Lastinger Center is an educational innovation incubator. It harnesses the university’s intellectual resources to design, build, field-test and scale models that advance teaching, learning and healthy child development. The Center continuously evaluates and refines its work, widely disseminates its findings and roots its initiatives in a growing network of partner sites around the state and the country.

SOURCE: Don Pemberton, director, UF Lastinger Center for Learning;, 352-273-4108
WRITER/MEDIA LIAISON: Boaz Dvir, UF Lastinger Center for Learning;, 352-273-0289


Center for Learning offers Master Teacher training to help turn around state’s lowest-ranked high school

JACKSONVILLE, Fla.—UF’s Lastinger Center for Learning, part of the College of Education, recently joined a multi-organization, multiyear effort that includes Duval County Public Schools (DCPS), the Jaguar Foundation and Teach for America to turn around the state’s lowest-ranked high school, Andrew Jackson H.S. in Jacksonville.

Starting during the 2012-13 school year, this collaboration – which also includes United Way, City Year, Communities in Schools, Educational Directions, Big Brothers & Big Sisters, Ready for Tomorrow and Bridge of Northeast Florida – will aim to improve teaching and learning at Jackson, an F school on intervene status. The organizations are meeting May 29 to brainstorm ideas and synthesize their plans.

“The whole purpose of this project is to increase success,” says DCPS Deputy Superintendent Patricia Willis, “and introduce more of what the UF Lastinger Center is doing in non-high schools.”

Through its award-winning Master Teacher Initiative, the Lastinger Center provides on-the-job, onsite/online professional development to educators in Jacksonville’s highest needs elementary and middle schools. The initiative’s programs include a free UF master’s degree to teachers who make a five-year commitment to their schools. It offers this opportunity at Jackson, which, like many vulnerable schools, struggles to hire and keep experienced faculty.

“We’re inviting everyone who wishes to contribute to turning around Andrew Jackson High School to join us on a multi-year journey,” Lastinger Director Don Pemberton says. “It’s not going to be easy. It’s not for the mild and meek. But it’s an opportunity to make a real difference.”

Besides providing comprehensive professional development to Jackson teachers and administrators that includes leadership and team building, Lastinger will also help boost student engagement and morale, mobilize the community to support the school, recruit UF volunteers, chronicle the transformation effort and assemble research and evaluation teams to measure the results.

“We will identify research-based strategies and share them widely with our partners,” Pemberton says.

Brain drain to magnet and private schools often harms vulnerable schools, says UF Duval County Professor-in-Residence Crystal Timmons. Many high-achieving students opt out of attending lower-performing schools such as Jackson.

Out of 1,200 area students who could attend Jackson, only 800 have elected to do so.

“The community is losing a third of its students,” says Jon Heymann, CEO of Communities in Schools and a DCPS School Board candidate. “They’re voting with their feet.”

To attract more high-achieving students, who receive opportunity scholarships to attend schools out of their zones, Jackson will offer the International Baccalaureate and leadership and entrepreneurship programs beginning this fall.

“If everyone’s truly committed,” Timmons says, “then there is no reason why this venture should not be successful and why the students should not be successful.”

As part of the turnaround effort, social workers and other professionals will also be stationed at Jackson to meet the needs of students, teachers and families, Willis notes.

“We think if we can get sustainable work in Jackson,” she says, “we can spread that work and replicate it in other struggling schools.”

An educational innovation incubator, the UF Lastinger Center harnesses the university’s intellectual resources and partners with educational organizations to design, build, field-test and disseminate new models to transform teaching and learning.


    WRITER: Boaz Dvir, UF Lastinger Center, 352-273-0289;


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’65 grad Delores Lastinger named UF Distinguished Alumna

Delores Lastinger, a leading civic leader, philanthropist and former Jacksonville high school teacher known for her tremendous contributions to the Northeast Florida community and the University of Florida, has been chosen to receive the 2012 University of Florida Distinguished Alumna Award.

She was honored May 5 at UF’s commencement ceremony in Gainesville.

Lastinger, a longtime Jacksonville resident who, with her husband Allen, moved to St. Augustine in 2001, earned her bachelor’s degree in education from UF’s College of Education in 1965 and has always displayed a deep commitment to education. The Lastingers in 2002 created a $4 million endowment at UF to establish the Lastinger Center for Learning at the college.

The renowned center reflects the Lastingers’ vision of practical training that improves teacher practice and student learning. Little did they know that the center would grow in a few short years to link some 300 partnering high-poverty schools across Florida with UF research scholars from multiple disciplines, forming powerful learning communities in support of school improvement, teacher advancement and children’s early learning and healthy development. The Lastingers are active board members who continuously contribute to the center’s success.

“Close to 10 years ago, Allen and Delores, who’ve worked hard in life, found themselves in a position to give something back,” said Lastinger Center Director Don Pemberton. “They invested in education and planted a seed here in the College of Education. That seed has grown and grown and grown.”

Delores is vice president of the Lastinger Family Foundation and her devotion to education and charitable work has been a lifelong labor of love. After graduating from UF, she earned a master’s in education administration and supervision from the University of North Florida and taught for many years at Episcopal High School in Jacksonville before having children and moving into high-profile volunteer work and philanthropy.

UF has been the beneficiary of the Lastingers’ generosity on several occasions. Delores and Allen are joint lifetime members of the UF Alumni Association and are members of the President’s Council. (Allen has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business administration from UF and is the retired CEO of Barnett Banks.) Delores also serves on the UF Foundation’s leadership gifts council and campaign steering council.

Besides the center, the Lastingers have made substantial donations to UF’s archeology program, the John V. Lombardi Scholarship Program, the UF 150th Anniversary Cultural Plaza Endowment-UF Performing Arts, and the David Lawrence Jr. Endowed Chair in Early Childhood Studies (also in the College of Education.)

Delores Lastinger’s generosity is well known throughout Northeast Florida. She and Allen co-chaired a successful $15 million capital campaign for Jacksonville Episcopal High, where Delores serves on the board of trustees. She also served on the board of directors for Leadership Jacksonville and developed the group’s annual fundraising program for its Youth Jacksonville Program, which supports more than 800 high school students. She’s also held board leadership positions for the Hubbard House (a domestic violence shelter), Hope Haven Children’s Clinic and Family Center and other charities.

Delores has volunteered for many years at the Community Hospice of Northeast Florida inpatient care center in St. Augustine and helped the center establish its pediatric hospice program. She’s also a trustee of Flagler College in St. Augustine and the Lastingers have campaigned to help preserve the college’s historic buildings.

MEDIA CONTACT: Boaz Dvir, creative services, UF Lastinger Center, UF College of Education, 352-273-0289;


UF education, medical colleges team up on new master’s degree to help doctors become better teachers

The University of Florida colleges of Education and Medicine have joined forces to offer a new master’s degree program geared toward not only helping physicians be better teachers, but also training them to be scholars in the field.

The online joint master’s degree program will begin in the fall and is open to physicians across the state.

“Most faculty arrive at their position without any formal training in teaching techniques and best practices,” said Marian Limacher, M.D., senior associate dean for faculty affairs and professional development in the College of Medicine. “They have been students so long themselves they have developed their own style, but it may not be founded in best practices.”

Teaching is generally not a skill taught in medical school, as physicians-in-training are more focused on learning about the process of disease and how to treat patients. But as physicians move forward in their careers and become teachers themselves, of medical students, residents and fellows, there is a need for more advanced knowledge in instructional strategies and also research methods used to measure educational outcomes, which differ from the research techniques used in medical science.


“Many health science professionals have been exposed to a monochromatic view of education that is lecture-based and behavioristically driven,” said Erik Black, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the College of Medicine department of pediatrics and the College of Education School of Teaching and Learning. “That is not necessarily where medical education is going. Today, there is a growing emphasis on small group learning, team-based learning and constructivist principles of instruction and learning.

“There is a need for medical educators to learn about and incorporate more contemporary educational methods. It is something students request and something faculty want but do not necessarily know how to deliver.”

The 36-hour master’s degree program will arm physicians with instructional strategies they can use in the clinical education setting and give them the tools to assess educational efforts, as well. Courses include subjects such as instructional design, research methods in professional and medical education, adult teaching and learning and more.The program stems from a pilot project faculty members in the colleges of Education and Medicine have been working on for the past two years. As part of that project, funded by the Department of Education’s Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education, five UF physicians and a pharmacist are receiving master’s degrees in education, with a focus on using technology in education.

“We see so much potential in the connection between our two colleges. It is a unique arrangement and has helped us to move this work along,” said Elizabeth Bondy, professor and director of the School of Teaching and Learning in the College of Education. “At the bedside, there is a lot of teaching and learning that goes on in those moments. What we do in the School of Teaching and Learning is focus on teaching and learning in diverse settings.”

UF education technology professors Kara Dawson and Cathy Cavanaugh were instrumental in the degree program’s creation while Bondy and School of Teaching and Learning faculty members Kent Crippen, Dorene Ross and Sevan Terzian have worked on developing the curriculum.

Eventually, the program likely will be opened up to professionals in other health fields as well, Black said.

For clinical educators in the College of Medicine, the issue is particularly important. The college is currently revising its tenure and promotion guidelines so that faculty who have pursued advanced education in teaching and who are conducting research in medical education can use this in their tenure applications, Limacher said.

“We think this program will have appeal to a number of folks within the College of Medicine,” Limacher said.





Professor emeritus pens new book: ‘Why Korean Education is Leaving America in the DUST’

During his 44-year education career, William Hedges, a retired professor emeritus at UF’s College of Education, alternated public school teaching with university teaching in order to “stay in the real world.” A former Fulbright Scholar, he didn’t like what he saw as he observed how America had fallen behind other nations in the education of its young people. In his words, “the widespread ignorance of the American people is alarming.”

Hedges recently published a book, “Why Korean Education is Leaving America in the DUST,” to show just what the American public elementary school of the 21st century must become if the U.S. is to continue as a leader in the free world.

Always outspoken on matters of education and politics, Hedges is critical of the teacher unions, the short teaching day and teaching year in the U.S. compared with other nations, and the treatment of education by American lawmakers as a political football.

He doesn’t merely point out obvious problems, though. With the progressive South Korean education system as a model, he offers a blueprint of 33 specific recommendations for improving our schools. Hedges spent three years working directly with Korean teachers in their schools and has studied their education system continuously for many more years.

Just one startling comparison Hedges points out: Over one-third of American students never finish high school; over 93 percent of Korean students complete high school.

Bill Hedges

Hedges, 87, who spent the final 20 years of his academic career at UF until his retirement in 1991, puts his money where his mouth is. He and his wife, Robbie, have donated nearly $2 million to UF’s College of Education in a charitable remainder trust to support research to help marginal K-12 learners.

“Why Korean Education…” is published by Xlibris Corp., one of the pioneering print-on-demand, self-publishing companies, and is available on

Earlier this year, Hedges published his autobiography titled “From Life in the Hamptons to a Life of Poverty in Arkansas,” also published by Xlibris.


: William D. Hedges, professor emeritus and supporter, UF College of Education,

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

COE celebrates different cultures on International Education Day

English Language Institute teachers Lia Brenneman and Nate Bloemke answered students’ questions at the international fair about the program and teaching opportunities.

About 50 students and faculty members gathered Nov. 17 to celebrate global EduGators on International Education Day. The festivities were part of International Education Week, a worldwide celebration of international education and exchange.

More than 100 international students from 35 different countries are enrolled in UF’s College of Education.

The College’s sixth annual event, which revolved around the theme “Networking Beyond Borders,” began with food and entertainment at 12:30 p.m. in Norman Hall’s Terrace Room. Fulbright Scholar and educational technology professor Catherine Cavanaugh followed with the keynote address, discussing her Fulbright work last summer on technology integration in teacher education in Nepal.

UF’s African Choir, directed by Duncan Wambugu (center), entertained attendees.

Participants then broke out into two sessions: a Faculty and Graduate Student Colloquium and a student international fair. The colloquium panel consisted of four graduate students and one faculty member, each with a different geographical outreach experience, from Bulgaria to Colombia.

UF’s African Choir, Pazeni Sauti (“Raise Your Voice” in Swahili), closed out the day with a rousing performance.

The College of Education Office of Student Affairs sponsors the yearly event. International Education Week, a national and international event, was created by the U.S. Department of Education and took place Nov. 14–18.

ProTeach program students Kara Wiecjorek and Angela Cruex read about the College's international school services and study abroad opportunities.

Last year, there were three panel discussions and international foods for lunch. Past keynote speakers and panels have addressed challenges faced by international teaching, ways to prepare going abroad and the significance of creating global community. (Staff photos by COE communications intern Nicole La Hoz.)

WRITER: Nicole La Hoz, communications intern, news and communications, UF College of Education

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Couple adds to $2 million gift to make up for losses during recession

 GAINESVILLE, Fla. — When former teachers Bill and Robbie Hedges saw their 2005 donation of almost $2 million to the University of Florida’s College of Education drop in value during the global financial crisis in recent years, they feared the education research supported by their gift would suffer from the reduced funding.

College officials announced today that the retired Gainesville couple has added another $63,000 to their endowed research fund to restore its value to previous levels.

Bill and Robbie Hedges

“We had hoped our gift would grow (through the university foundation’s investment program), but the stock market tanked shortly after we made it,” said Bill Hedges, a retired professor emeritus at the College of Education. “We had some stocks that appreciated, so we decided to add another contribution to make up for the loss. We wanted to keep the research fund strong.”

Hedges and his wife committed more than $1.9 million to the college six years ago to support research aiding slow learners. It was the second largest individual donation ever made to the College of Education. Their gift was made in the form of a charitable remainder trust, which provides them with a variable income for life until the trust terminates, when the remaining assets will be transferred to the college.

The resulting William D. and Robbie F. Hedges Research Fund will support sorely needed studies to develop better teaching methods and curriculum materials for marginal students who fall behind, become discouraged and tend to drop out of school before graduation. The Hedges’ latest gift will boost the amount of annual interest earned on the total fund value.

“We hope to generate more attention and research that yields a more pleasant and productive educational experience for this frequently overlooked and neglected segment of our school population,” said Hedges, who spent the final 20 years of his half-century teaching career on UF’s educational leadership faculty before retiring as professor emeritus in 1991. Robbie Hedges gave up teaching to raise their two sons in 1971 after they moved to Gainesville for her husband’s new UF faculty appointment.

“This gift is a testament to the Hedges’ belief that all children need specialized attention to their learning needs if they are to succeed in school and society,” said Tom Dana, associate dean for academic affairs at UF’s College of Education. “Their contribution will fund research that can make a significant difference in kids’ lives.”


WRITER/MEDIA RELATIONS: Larry Lansford, director, COE News & Communications,; 352-273-4137