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HIGHERhappenings ED Inside


Director’s Notes, p. 2 Student Awards, p. 2 Alumni Feature: The Risk Paid Off, p. 3 Faculty Updates, p. 3 Class Notes, p. 4 Spring 2011 Graduates, p. 4

/// Prior to her appointment with Curry, Karen Inkelas was an associate professor in the

the College of Education at the University of Maryland.

The Jay L. Chronister & Jennings L. Wagoner, Jr., Walkway Clementine S. Pollok received her Ph.D. in Curry’s higher education program in 1979. She and her husband Bill made a generous gift to the Curry School to name the north walkway between Ruffner Hall and Bavaro Hall in honor of emeriti faculty members Jay L. Chronister and Jennings L. Wagoner, Jr.

Editor: Margaret Miller Managing Editor: Anne Womack Writer: Lynn Bell Higher Ed Happenings is published by the Curry School ‘s Center for the Study of Higher Education and is sponsored by the Curry School of Education Foundation.


New Center Tackles Teaching and Learning Issues BY LY N N B E L L


new research center at Curry will strengthen the higher education program and position the school at the forefront of the current debate about measuring the effectiveness of postsecondary education. The Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (or CASTL-HE) will be a nexus for researchers across the university and beyond who wish to engage in the evidence-based study of postsecondary teaching and learning. “The center’s research will link the examination of instructional practice to student learning outcomes,” says Karen Kurotsuchi Inkelas, who serves as the new center’s director. Inkelas has had a longstanding interest in how college environments affect students. Her prior research has focused on the impact of living-learning programs—academic programs based in residence halls that strive to integrate students’ academic and social spheres to optimize learning—on undergraduate

“The center’s research will link the examination of instructional practice to student learning outcomes.”

—continued on page 2 HIGHER ED HAPPENINGS • SPRING 2011


“[CASTL-HE ] provides a center of gravity for research on a topic that has become increasingly important in higher education.”

2011 Curry Foundation Award Recipients in Higher Education

student outcomes. She began her career at the Searle Center for Teaching Excellence at Northwestern University, where she first became interested in teaching and learning theories. While working on her Ph.D at the University of Michigan, she became more interested in student outcomes and then explored places outside the classroom where learning takes place. “Now I’m back where I started,” Inkelas says. “I still truly believe that the primary enterprise of postsecondary education is teaching and learning. It’s the one thing that ties all institutions together.” Inkelas is especially interested in understanding how innovative instructional ideas are having an impact on student learning. “A number of professors and instructors have innovative ideas about how to teach their subjects,” Inkelas says, “but how do they know if their ideas were

Annette Gibbs Research Award XIN CHEN CLAIRE E. MITCHELL Jay L. Chronister Student Award in Higher Education THOMAS BOWMAN TUNDRUP TENDZIN Alton L. Taylor Award AMY R. MOYNIHAN Johnnie E. Merritt Graduate Fellowship

Check out the new Curry Alumni Portal at 2






Director’s Notes

Congratulations to the following students who received awards and fellowships established by donors specifically to support students in Curry’s higher education program.

Bonnie McKee Mason Clevenger and Daniel W. and RosaLee McKee Mason Fellowship in Education

actually effective?” Few college professors have ever had to assess their teaching, she adds, and that’s where the center can help. “We can provide the design for the assessment.” The center is an important addition to the Curry School’s higher education program, says Professor Margaret “Peg” Miller, and brings new expertise. “It provides a center of gravity for research on a topic that has become increasingly important in higher education.” Students in the higher education program will be able to take courses taught by Inkelas and other center fellows and, as grant funding becomes available, will have opportunities for graduate or postgraduate research. “We also hope to run workshops or conferences someday for program alumni,” Inkelas says.

/// Margaret “Peg” Miller


ith this edition of Higher Ed Happenings, we are happy to present not only a new name for newsletter communications from the Center for the Study of Higher Education but an updated format as well. A paper copy of Higher Ed Happenings will appear in your mailbox each spring, but

news about alumni, faculty, and students will be added to the online version of the newsletter throughout the year at http://curry. If you want to receive electronic notices of new issues of Higher Ed Happenings, submit your email address to us through classnotes. At the same time that I am excited to launch this new venture with our alumni, I am preparing to say farewell to the Curry School’s higher education program. This has been my last semester of teaching. It has been my pleasure and honor to head the higher education program. I am very proud to have participated in its development over the last 11 years and will look on with interest as it continues to change. Programs, like sharks, need to keep moving in order not to die, but I trust we’ll continue to see students who start the program unformed as scholars and practitioners emerge as fully fledged professionals, with the skills and understanding they need to surf the waves of their professional futures with confidence and even glee. So goodbye to our graduates, and hello new students—you are our future as well.

The Risk Paid Off

Alumna Leanna Blevins Is Doing the Work She Loves BY LYNN BELL


hen Leanna Blevins was job hunting in 2004, she had options. Her CV included a Ph.D. from Curry’s higher ed program and an impressive line-up of work experience, including a stint in President John Casteen’s office. When it came time to decide between three job offers, Blevins took a risk and followed her heart to Martinsville, Va. She chose the position that was, in her words, “least likely to become a reality,” but it was the one that best fulfilled her passion for bringing higher education to rural and underserved areas. Her gamble to join the New College Planning Commission definitely paid off. “This experience is something I wouldn’t have gained anywhere else,” she insists. She joined the planning commission because New College Institute didn’t yet exist. “I was very attracted to the opportunity to help build something from the ground up,” she says. “I’ve been able to work on every aspect of creating the organization, from political to financial to educational and everything in between, including facilities and parking!” A first-generation college graduate herself, Blevins is the associate director of NCI, which will celebrate its five-year anniversary this July. Under the leadership of executive director Barry Dorsey (Ed.D. ’80 Higher Ed), she wears many hats, as does everyone on the small staff, she says.

David W. Breneman is chairing the search for a new U.Va. executive vice president and provost. He has recently co-edited (with Paul Yakoboski) Smart Leadership for Higher Education in Difficult Times. He also contributed a chapter to the book Is the Business Model of Higher Education Broken? Margaret (Peg) Miller continues to edit Change magazine and to serve on a number of boards and advisory committees for, among others, the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems, ETS, the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment, and Inside Track.

/// Leanna Blevins (M.Ed. ‘99, Ph.D. ‘04) is associate director of the New College Institute in Martinsville, Va.

She seems to love every minute, though. “I know that the work I do makes a difference every day.” New College Institute NCI is a state-funded educational entity that provides access to bachelor’s degree completion programs, master’s degrees, teacher endorsement programs, teacher recertification courses, and more through partnerships with colleges and universities, including U.Va.

“I know the work I do makes a difference every day.” Leanna’s Advice for Current Curry Students • Take advantage of every opportunity you have to network. Reach out to faculty, to guest speakers, to others within the university, and to your colleagues. They will be invaluable as you move on to other professional endeavors.

Faculty Updates

• Sometimes you should take risks and follow your passions!

Brian Pusser and Marvin Titus are co-authors of the recently published article, “States’ Potential Enrollment of Adult Students” in the January 2011 issue of the journal Research in Higher Education. He also was one of the panelists on a presidential session titled, “Advocating for Educational Equity and Postsecondary Success,” at the annual meeting of the Association for the Study of Higher Education in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Emeriti Faculty Updates Jay Chronister is now serving on the Board of Directors of the Fluvanna County Habitat for Humanity working with fundraising and the development of a data system to track businesses, foundations, churches, and individuals that support the homebuilding efforts. He is also directly involved in a variety of ways at his church as an elder and trustee. And he makes time for a little golf on the side, as well. Hal Burbach says, “It takes a little longer to adjust to the rhythms of a life in retirement than I would have guessed, but Becky and I have made the adjustment and are doing just fine.” Hal continues to teach the Social Foundations of American Education course at the Northern Virginia Center, which helps keep him current and active on the academic side of life.

Read more. An expanded version of this article can be found online at




P.O. Box 400268 417 Emmet Street South Charlottesville, VA 22904-4268

CLASS NOTES Linwood H. Rose (Ed.D. ‘87) has announced

his plans to step down from his post as president of James Madison University in June 2012. Rose has worked at JMU since 1975 and became president in 1998. Cathy Smalley Pales (Ed.D. ‘03) is presi-

dent of Powerful Purpose Leadership, LLC. PPL guides individuals and organizations in creating a collaborative organizational climate that promotes positive change. The company provides leadership coaching, workshops, team transformation services and organizational assessments as well as a strengths-based approach to organizational change and strategic planning. PPL specializes in working with higher education institutions, higher education business partners, associations, service organizations and small/ medium-sized businesses. John Downey (Ed.D. ‘05) continues to

serve as president of Blue Ridge Community College. Kristine Dahm (Ph.D. ‘05) is a counselor for

First Year Initiatives at J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College in Richmond. Charlynn Miller (Ph.D. ‘05) has served as

the deputy head of the Graduate School of Information Technology and Mathematical Sciences at the University of Ballarat in Ballarat, Victoria, Australia. In December 2010, Charlynn was awarded the ViceChancellor’s Award to Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning at the University of Ballarat, and in March 2011 she was appointed the chair of the University Learning and Teaching Committee. 4


Dave Wolcott (Ph.D. ‘05) was appointed

Associate Vice Provost for Academic Accreditation in the Office of the Executive Vice President & Provost at U.Va in February 2011.


accepted a position as the Senior Associate for Program and Practice in the higher education division of The Education Trust.

Dissertation: “Male College Students and Success: A Study of the Early Predictors of First-Year Academic Performance, Progression, and Persistence of Male Undergraduate Students”

Marc H. Shook (Ph.D. ‘10) and his wife

Brian D. Reed

Mary Beth Knight (Ph.D. ‘10) recently

Jennifer welcomed the birth of their first child, Lily-Grace Shook, last May. They reside in Austin, where Marc is currently the assistant dean of students at The University of Texas at Austin. Marc was recently appointed to the editorial board of Journal of Student Affairs Research & Practice and remains a board member with NASPA Region III and the Association of Student Conduct Administration.

Dissertation: “Factors Affecting Low-SES White Males: Year One to Year Two Persistence” Wendy Wood

Dissertation: “Middle Income Financial Aid Recipients’ Perception of Relative Deprivation in the Distribution of Financial Aid”

Gerry Starsia (Ph.D. ‘10) was promoted

from associate dean for administration to senior associate dean for administration in the U.Va. McIntire School of Commerce. Gerry presented a paper titled “Strategic Planning in Higher Education: An Examination of Variation in Strategic Planning Practices and Their Effect on Success in NCAA Division I Athletic Departments” at ASHE in November 2010. His paper has also been accepted for presentation at the SCUP conference in Baltimore in July 2011. Gerry also recently published an article entitled “Servant Leadership: Skills to Lead Through the Turbulent Times” in College Services magazine.

Submit Class Notes online at

Read more. If you missed “Curry Alums at the Helm of Higher Ed” in the recent issue of Curry Magazine, catch it online at

Higher Ed Happenings, Spring 2011  
Higher Ed Happenings, Spring 2011  

A newsletter for alumni and students of the Curry School of Education higher education program.