College News

KHPR doctoral student wins conference scholarship

Alan ChuAlan Chu, a doctoral student in the UNT College of Education’s Kinesiology program, recently earned a scholarship to attend the Texas Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (TAHPERD) conference in December 2016 in Galveston.

Chu’s research focuses on motivation and health-related outcomes in sports and physical education. He currently serves as a teaching fellow and research assistant in the Department of Kinesiology, Health Promotion and Recreation as well as a sport psychology consultant at the UNT Center for Sport and Performance Excellence. He won the 2015-16 Outstanding Teaching Fellow of the Year Award for KHPR.

At the conference, Chu was able to attend a wide range of lectures and demonstrations focusing on physical education, health education, community health and more.

“My ideal career is to teach and do research in a research-oriented university as well as consult with coaches and athletes in the community regarding educational and motivational issues,” he said. “Helping all students, especially athletes, to pursue their excellence in physical and psychosocial development is my ultimate goal.”

UNT KHPR faculty member Tao Zhang and visiting scholar Jiqiang Wang of East China Normal University also attended the conference and made a presentation on qigong, an ancient Chinese practice that incorporates breathing techniques, postures and focusing exercises to optimize health.

For more information about TAHPERD, visit


Pictured: Alan Chu, left, with KHPR faculty member Tao Zhang and Xiaoxia Zhang, a UNT sport pedagogy doctoral student. Xiaoxia Zhang won first place for her poster at the conference.

KHPR faculty member named SHAPE America Fellow

Xiangli Gu, an assistant professor in the UNT College of Education’s Kinesiology, Health Promotion and Recreation department, was recently named one of six new research fellows for the Society of Health and Physical Educators (SHAPE) America in 2017.

“The SHAPE America Society of Health and Physical Educators Research Fellow is selected by nomination only from other established research fellows,” Gu said. “To date, SHAPE America has recognized 87 research fellows in the Sport Pedagogy research area since 1959, and I am so proud of being a member of them.”

According to Gu’s profile page on the College of Education website, her “research focuses on achievement motivation in physical activity and health promotion; the behavioral mechanism of childhood obesity including physical activity, physical fitness and motor skills assessment among youth; and how those behavioral variables may affect school-aged students’ academic performance and health outcomes. The long-term goal of [Gu’s] research agenda is to develop optimal school-based intervention programs that aim at childhood obesity prevention and promoting cognitive health, especially in low-income minority groups.”

SHAPE America focuses on the health of young children in the United States with regards to physical activity. Since 1885, SHAPE America has provided the U.S. with research about physical activity and its benefits to children and young adults.

Gu has been a part of many services for the Research Council of SHAPE America since 2008. She has served as a reviewer for the SHAPE America Official Journals (Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport) as well as the research papers of each annual convention.

Gu has received grant support as well as research awards from SHAPE America. Gu’s undergraduate and graduate students have also received research awards from SHAPE America under her mentoring.

“I feel very honored to be recognized by the largest professional organization in our field,” Gu said. “In the meantime, I am also proud of being able to represent UNT at the professional levels. I would like to extend my appreciation to my colleagues, chair and deans since I cannot obtain this great honor without their help, encouragement and support.”

Gu will be commended for this professional recognition the SHAPE America National Convention and Expo in Boston on March 16.


Above, Xiangli Gu, seen here talking with UNT Provost Finley Graves, was also honored at the college's Faculty Salute in 2015.

Student Computer Lab offers study spaces, laptops for checkout


The College of Education Student Computer Labs, which are located in Matthews Hall 309 as well as the recently-opened Physical Education Building (PEB) 220 satellite location, now have more spaces to study, collaboration areas for group work, and offer laptops you can check out to study with or even take to class.

Both locations offer laptop checkout, and both now have collaboration spaces available for group projects. The collaboration spaces support wireless or wired connection to project devices on a large screen, and feature adjustable seating and tables to suit your group's needs.

The Matthews Hall location has also opened a Study Lounge, featuring a student-centric open space with lounge chairs for individual study and relaxation, as well as tables and whiteboards for group collaboration and brainstorming sessions.

COE, ACES to present Temple Grandin lecture in Dallas

The University of North Texas and ACES (Comprehensive Educational Services Inc.) will present prominent autism activist Temple Grandin April 13 (Thursday) in Dallas.

“+Autism: A Lecture and Discussion with Temple Grandin” will begin at 9 a.m. at Temple Emanu-El, 8500 Hillcrest Ave. The lecture is open to anyone with an interest in Autism Spectrum Disorder, including educators, parents and health practitioners. Tickets are $20, and pre-registration is highly encouraged as the event is expected to sell out. Proceeds will support UNT’s work in autism.

Grandin is considered one of the most important voices in the ASD community. She was diagnosed with autism as a young child and went on to earn a doctoral degree in animal science. She is a best-selling author and was the subject of an Emmy- and Golden Globe-winning HBO film starring Claire Danes.

Grandin will discuss her journey and offer her thoughts on the mysteries of Autism Spectrum Disorder in a lecture titled “Educating Students with Different Kinds of Minds.”

“Dr. Grandin is one of the most iconic and important voices in the autism field,” said UNT alumna Kristin Farmer, founder and CEO of ACES and benefactor of the UNT Kristin Farmer Autism Center. “It is my honor and privilege for ACES to support UNT by bringing her inspiring message to the Dallas-Fort Worth community.”

The lecture will be followed by a panel discussion featuring Grandin and experts from UNT and KFAC, who will answer questions from the audience and offer insights into current research and best practices. Questions will be taken online at the registration site.

“We are fortunate and excited to have Dr. Grandin share her unique perspectives and insights into the world of autism,” said panel member Shahla Ala’i-Rosales, UNT associate professor of behavior analysis. “Her voice is a strong and powerful force in advocating for effective, intensive and humane approaches to improving the lives of people with autism.”

Doors will open at 8 a.m. the day of the event. The lecture is appropriate for ages 12 and older, and light refreshments will be served. To register, submit a question for Grandin or the panel, or for more information, visit

Established in 1996, ACES (Comprehensive Educational Services Inc.) is dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for individuals and families impacted with autism or other special needs. ACES provides comprehensive, professional services to maximize individuals’ potential in the home, school and community, throughout their lifespan. For more information about ACES, visit or follow on social media (Facebook: ACES ABA, Twitter @ACESautism).

COE Counseling faculty member wins national award

By Raquel Talamantes

Angie Wilson
, assistant professor of counseling in the UNT College of Education’s Counseling and Higher Education department, has won the Robert H. Rencken Emerging Professional Leader Award from the American Counseling Association.

Wilson is a past president of the Texas Association for Counselor Education and Supervision (TACES) and also a New Professional Board Member-at-Large for TACES. She holds a committee chair position in International Association of Addictions and Offender Counselors (IAAOC) and serves on the Ethics Appeal Panel for the American Counseling Association. Wilson has also won previous awards including the IAAOC’s 2016 Outstanding Addictions/Offender Professional Award and the 2015 Professor of the Year Award given by the African American Student Leadership team at Texas A&M University.

“I am honored and grateful to be selected as the recipient of the 2017 Robert H. Rencken Emerging Professional Leader Award,” Wilson said. “One of my goals as a professional is to give back to the counseling profession through leadership and service. I enjoy serving our profession and working to be a voice for underserved populations and students. Working in these leadership positions at the local, regional and national levels has afforded me with opportunities to advocate for others, mentor others and give back to the counseling profession.”

According to the ACA website, nominees for the award must:

  • Have been a member of ACA for at least three years
  • Have been an ACA state branch or state division president
  • Have shown ability as a new leader in the counseling profession and have a master’s degree in counseling or closely related profession
  • Held at least one, but no more than three national ACA, division or region offices, board or committee chair positions

The Robert H. Rencken Emerging Professional Leader Award was created in 2006 and recognizes an ACA member who has demonstrated the potential to become a dedicated leader of the counseling profession in future years.

“It is my hope that the leaders who have inspired and helped me along the way recognize the importance and influence they have on emerging professionals,” Wilson said. “Several people mentored me and invested in me, and I hope they see the benefit of their mentorship, guidance and support in this recent accomplishment. I also hope to continue sharing the lessons that I’ve learned along the way to my students and new professionals.”

Randy Bomer named dean of UNT’s College of Education

Randy Bomer, chair of the Department of Educational Administration at the University of Texas at Austin, has been named the new dean of the College of Education at the University of North Texas.

“Randy Bomer provides the knowledge and leadership to continue the momentum and excellence in the College of Education, which was recently ranked No. 16 in the nation for its online graduate education program by U.S. News and World Report,” said Finley Graves, provost and vice president for academic affairs at UNT.

Bomer begins his position Aug. 1. He will replace Bertina Combes, associate dean for academic affairs and research, who has served as interim dean since last August.

Since 2001, Bomer has been at The University of Texas at Austin, most recently serving as the Charles Spence Sr. Centennial Professor of Education, professor of curriculum and instruction and chair for the Department of Educational Administration. While in these roles, Bomer has helped facilitate new graduate programs, cultivated academic outreach, developed external research opportunities and enhanced graduate student funding opportunities. Before his current role, Bomer served as chair for the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at The University of Texas at Austin.

“I am thrilled to be joining a university that is really on the move,” said Bomer. “The College of Education at UNT will rise even further in prominence when more people know about the outstanding research and teaching going on there. It’s a force for positive change in the region, state and the nation.”

Bomer’s career accomplishments also include a variety of other academic positions, including positions at Indiana University, Queens College, City University of New York, University of Alaska Southeast, Northeastern University and Columbia University. 

Bomer has 28 peer-reviewed articles, three books, 16 book chapters and has been a guest at numerous invited presentations. He received his Master of Arts and doctoral degrees in English education from Columbia University and a bachelor's degree in drama from Trinity University in San Antonio. 

COE online grad programs ranked among best in nation by U.S. News and World Report

U.S News and World Report has named the University of North Texas College of Education online graduate education program one of the best in the nation. UNT was ranked No.16 out of 275 schools listed. The program rose from a No. 124 ranking last year.

“This is exciting news! Our faculty has always been committed to providing quality programs that meet the needs of students across the nation, state and North Texas area,” said Bertina Combes, interim dean of the College of Education. “Our program allows people to attain advanced degrees while still living and working in their communities.”

The UNT College of Education offers seven online master’s-level programs in addition to online certificate programs in educational psychology and teacher education and administration. Some are accelerated programs that allow students to graduate with both a bachelor’s and a master’s in five years. The online educational psychology master’s degrees offer concentrations in autism intervention, educational diagnostician, gifted and talented, and research and evaluation. In teacher education and administration, concentrations include curriculum and instruction, educational leadership and teaching.

For this year’s list, UNT was ranked in five general categories—student engagement, student services and technology, admissions selectivity, faculty credentials, and training and peer reputation.

For more information about the Educational Psychology program, contact, Karen Goss at 940-369-8048 or For more information about the Teacher Education and Administration program, contact Marilyn Deuble at or 940-565-2942.

Other USNWR rankings for UNT this year include:

  • No. 33 – Master’s degree in Criminal Justice (graduate)
  • No.  55 – Master of Business Administration degree
  • No.  68 – Bachelor’s online programs

Students, faculty gain insight at bilingual education conference

By Raquel Talamantes

A group of UNT students interested in bilingual learning got a chance to expand their education beyond the classroom by attending the Texas Association for Bilingual Education (TABE) conference in Galveston in October. UNT College of Education and other faculty members also attended.

“TABE is a gathering of dedicated education professionals and is important because it provides a broader perspective of serving bilingual and ESL students in all content areas,” said Cindy Watson, a UNT Teach North Texas master teacher who attended the conference sponsored by Project NEXUS: A Title III National Professional Development Project. “Being present at the TABE conference provides a window into the world of being bilingual and its inherent opportunities and obstacles.”

In addition to Watson, UNT attendees included Dayton Ryden and Esmeralda Sheran, students in the Teach North Texas program; Dina Castro, the Velma Schmidt Endowed Chair in Early Childhood Education; Rossana Boyd, director of the Bilingual/English as a Second Language (ESL) Teacher Education programs; Keylee Slough, a post-baccalaureate student seeking certification in EC-6 ESL education; and Laura Cardenas, president of the Bilingual/ESL Student Organization (BESO).

The TABE conference presented sessions directed toward teaching others ways to best serve bilingual students. According to Cardenas, topics ranged from the importance of dual language education and how to advocate for bilingual education to how to grow as a BESO organization.

“We had the opportunity to explore the Gifted and Talented gap in identifying English Language Learner (ELL) students, how to differentiate for different English proficiency levels with a vast number of effective instructional strategies, how to incorporate more literacy into all content areas that included math and science,” Watson said. “We even had an opportunity to see how current research is conducted in the bilingual community, where it is published, and how articles are selected to be published.”

Attendees also heard testimonials from people who have had to overcome obstacles in life pertaining to being bilingual, Cardenas said.

“My biggest take away was knowing that I’m not alone in this journey,” she said. “We are the voices of those kids who don’t have one and we need to use it. I hope others want to share what they learned - that being there has shown them how important their voice is and how incredible bilingual education is and the importance of it.”

KHPR, CMHT researchers team up with ice hockey gurus to grow the game globally

Soccer and American football are consistently ranked among the top sports in the world, with an estimated 4 billion soccer enthusiasts globally and a projected revenue of more than $13 billion for the NFL in 2016. In contrast, ice hockey – the most popular winter sport in the world – generates less than a third of the NFL’s revenue with $4.1 billion annually for the National Hockey League. Researchers at the University of North Texas are teaming up with some of the biggest names in hockey to change that. 

“The big question for the global growth of the sport is how do we expand, get and keep more hockey fans,” said John Nauright, professor and chair of the Department of Kinesiology, Health Promotion and Recreation in the UNT College of Education.

Nauright will be joined by Young Hoon Kim, an associate professor in the Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management, at the World Hockey Forum Dec. 15–17 in Moscow. The goal is to highlight openings that can give hockey a shot at becoming an international powerhouse sport.

Nauright and Kim will be the only presenters from Texas. Their panel will showcase the Dallas-Fort Worth area as a model for success, and they will share recruitment, retention and event-planning strategies that can help hockey expand into nontraditional areas like Texas. The National Hockey League first came to Texas in 1993, when the Minnesota North Stars became the Dallas Stars, and hockey was first introduced to state high schools in 1997, when four schools in the North Texas region began offering programs, according to ESPN.

“From tourism and customer loyalty aspects, sports enthusiasts in Texas grew up with football and baseball everywhere, with big support from their schools and families. Ice hockey is different,” said Kim.

The conference will bring together some of the biggest players, executives and academics in the field – including Hockey Hall of Fame legends Phil Esposito, Jari Kurri, Vladislav Tretiak and Teemu Selänne; René Fasel, president of the International Ice Hockey Federation; and Dmitry Chernyshenko, president of the Kontinental Hockey League in Russia. Attendees will discuss the growth of grassroots games; women’s hockey; sledge or sled hockey, which is designed for those with physical disabilities; and social and cultural events and tourism activities related to the sport.

Nauright agreed that more can be done to help hockey gain ground – both internationally and locally.

“There are huge growth opportunities for the regional economy. The Dallas-Fort Worth area is one of the fastest growing areas for tourism, sports and events management,” said Nauright.


Pictured, Young Hoon Kim and John Nauright photographed at the Allen Event Center. Venues such as these, which can be used for multiple purposes including concerts and ice hockey games, offer a path to grow hockey into an international powerhouse sport. Credit: UNT/Michael Clements.

EPSY Professor Smita Mehta offers gift-buying tips for kids with special needs

Toys are always among the hottest-selling items of the holiday season, and this December marks Safe Toys and Gifts Month – a nationwide push to ensure presents match the abilities of the receiving child. Smita Mehta, a professor of special education in the Department of Educational Psychology in the UNT College of Education, offers tips for families to buy toys for children with special needs.

“Play is a tool to promote learning for all children, especially those with special needs,” says Mehta, adding the toys can serve a role in a child’s education. “Play serves very important functions in cognitive, language, social, communication and emotional development.”

Mehta says gift givers should look for toys that can help turn the child’s developmental challenges into strengths:

  • “When selecting toys or educational play materials, think from the perspective of the child,” says Mehta, a former preschool teacher who also used to assess babies ages 12 to 36 months for the presence of a disability.
  • “Individuals with disabilities and emotional behavior disorders often lack strong social interaction and communication skills, which are critical for success in life,” she continues. “Select toys such as talking books, stuffed animals or puppets to incorporate language learning and social interaction.”
  • “For children with visual impairment or weak eyesight, it’s important to incorporate things that activate other sensory elements – such as sounds, movements or textures,” she adds. “Try textures like soft versus hard toys. Something like Play-Doh can teach the child to manipulate texture. Also, let the child play with different shapes, like teddy bears or dolls that have different textured body parts.”
  • “For children lacking fine motor skills, puzzles that come with pegs are easy to use and help improve those skills,” says Mehta.
  • “Board games like ‘Chutes and Ladders’ and ‘Connect Four’ teach so many skills, such as taking turns with partners and eye-hand coordination,” she says.

Mehta says many everyday play items, sometimes with small modifications, can help also work well for kids with special needs:

  • “Balls are fun, but children may have difficulty with eye-hand coordination for catching and throwing,” she continues. “For that, start with a less complex skill. Sit on the floor with the child and roll the ball back and forth on the ground.”
  • “Books are a great way to learn, but some children may lack fine motor skills that makes it difficult to turn pages. However, the adult should not flip all the pages, which sends the communication to the child that the adult is in charge. Instead, use Post-it® flags or tape small strips of paper to create page turners,” Mehta says.

Mehta adds that what is done with gifts afterward can be just as important:

  • “Start by setting an environment that encourages children to explore and play,” she says. “Parents should resist the urge to teach or explain during play. For instance, if you have a toy school bus, try just pushing the bus around or turning the wheels instead of trying to explain the parts of the bus. Otherwise, for the child, all the charm is lost with the play itself. It’s important to ensure that play is play and that the adults follow the child’s lead instead of setting an agenda.”
  • “Work on the child’s weaknesses while he or she is young,” she says, adding that weaknesses can be more challenging to change when the child is older.
  • Mehta says children with special needs should receive similar opportunities as other children to learn different things through play. “Many people think that some kids will not benefit from play because they have a disability, and that’s simply not true,” she says.
  • “Be patient,” says Mehta. “Sometimes parents want the play to be perfect and will get anxious when their child struggles. Don’t worry about that; just focus on having a good time and ensuring the kid is actively engaged. The learning will come.”