Counseling’s Wilson named to national leadership position

Angie Wilson, assistant professor in the College of Education’s Counseling and Higher Education department, was recently named the 2016-17 secretary for the International Association of Addictions and Offender Counselors (IAAOC).

Wilson was elected for IAAOC’s secretary position out of three potential candidates. As IAAOC secretary, she will communicate with the American Counseling Association office, the IAAOC membership, and keep track of what’s happening in IAAOC’s different committees.

“The International Association of Addictions and Offender Counselors is really great because offender clients are often overlooked in the counseling community,” Wilson said. “Our organization serves that purpose – to provide education, information, resources and guidance to counselors who work with offenders and the addictions population.”

Wilson is the former chair of IAAOC’s Process Addictions committee and is the current chair for IAAOC’s Sex Offender Treatment committee. She has also been a member of the Texas Counseling Association and is the immediate past president of the Texas Association for Counselor Education and Supervision (TACES). Her role as IAAOC secretary is her first national leadership position.

Although the majority of Wilson’s research has focused on issues within counselor education and process addictions (behavioral addictions such as eating disorders, gambling and shopping), in her clinical practice she works with those who have committed sexual offenses.

“I wanted to help people whom others didn’t want to help,” Wilson said. “I wanted to be a person that people could talk to, and I wanted to assist an underserved population. One of the things I believe is that out of all the sex offenders that I’ve provided therapy and counseling to, I know I’ve made a difference in at least one life, and hopefully that helped prevent at least one abuse – prevent one childhood sexual abuse, one rape, one offense.”

The IAAOC recently awarded Wilson with the 2016 Outstanding Addictions/Offender Professional Award. The IAAOC selected Wilson for the award because of her contribution to the field of addictions and offender issues through her clinical practice work with sex offenders.

“I’m so fortunate that IAAOC honored me this year,” Wilson said. “It means a lot to be recognized by your peers, and it means a lot to me working with the sex offender population. So often we get focused on our research and classes, and our clinical practice falls to the wayside. It’s really great to be honored for my clinical practice.”

Wilson is currently working on research project that will incorporate the focus of her clinical practice into her research. Right now, she is in the preliminary process of organizing studies to see if sex offenders who have been in counseling for a longer period of time have more empathy than sex offenders who just began counseling or who have not had any counseling at all. Wilson hopes that from these results, she can ascertain if sex offender counseling truly promotes empathetic development.

Recent COE doctoral grad earns scholar award from international organization

Sumreen Asim
Sumreen Asim, C&I doctoral grad

Sumreen Asim, a 2015 graduate of the College of Education's Curriculum and Instruction doctoral program, was recently awarded the 2016 Jhumki Basu Scholar Award by the National Association of Research in Science Teaching (NARST).

NARST is a worldwide organization for improving science teaching and learning through research. The Jhumki Basu Scholar Award is presented annually to 15 scholars around the world to help cover the cost of attending the NARST Annual International Conference.

Award winners must also participate in the pre-conference workshop offered by the NARST Equity and Ethics committee. This workshop helps scholars learn how to craft their questions more efficiently, strengthen their theoretical frameworks, and improve their research skills.

Asim is currently replicating her dissertation research study in order to understand the challenge of pre-service elementary teachers and the importance of Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). In her research study, Asim is examining the effectiveness of an informal science education (ISE) model with cross-contextual science learning environments in her science methods course.

Along with this, Asim is collaborating with another recent UNT graduate from the Learning Technology department to create a transmedia book that includes QR codes and augmented reality. This book is geared for K-2 students and their teachers, with a focus on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education and STEM career paths.

This is Asim's first time attending the NARST conference, and she said she is excited for the networking opportunities and support system she expects to find there.

"I'm ecstatic that I will be with fellow peers who are doing similar things, who are going out of the box and researching certain aspects of science with a concentration on social justice and culturally relevant pedagogy," Asim said. "As educators and researchers, we need to know we live in a culturally and linguistically diverse world, and we need to be cognizant of it."

The 2016 NARST International Conference is set for April 14-17 in Baltimore. Asim will be recognized for the Jhumki Basu Scholarship Award at the Equity and Ethic Committee Pre-Conference Workshop for scholars from underrepresented groups, held April 14. She will present her research next year at the 2017 NARST International Conference during the Jhumki Basu Scholars Symposium.

UNT admitted to exclusive educational leadership consortium

Dr. Miriam Ezzani

By Mary Murphy


This January, the University Council for Educational Administration approved the University of North Texas for full membership as a research utilizing university. Of the United States' nearly 3,000 four-year universities, only 100 are full members of UCEA. UCEA is a consortium of universities that impacts the field of educational leadership through its dedication to improve leadership preparation, practice and policy. 

Full UCEA membership sets UNT apart from other institutions by meeting a standard of excellence to advance educational leadership preparation, scholarship and practice. The program aims to fulfill this purpose by disseminating research on essential problems of practice, improving the preparation and professional development of school leaders and professors, and by influencing policy and practice through collaborative networks. Full institutional membership affords UNT a seat at the table regarding national standards and educational policy at the federal and state levels.

 In an effort to be a part of this distinguished consortium, UNT's educational leadership program underwent a redesign and then applied for full institutional membership. Prerequisites required the program to: offer master and doctoral programs; include educational leadership as its main area of research, teaching and service; meet 11 program quality criterion; and undergo an extensive review that requires an in-depth application and on-site review process.

"In order for us to complete the application to their satisfaction, we needed to present the evidence that we were doing all of this," said Miriam Ezzani, a clinical associate professor in the Department of Teacher Education and Administration who liaised with UCEA in the process of getting the educational leadership program approved for membership. "As we went through the process of analyzing the 11 criterion, we realized, ‘You know what? We're really not doing all of this,' which triggered a total redesign of our program. It was a huge undertaking."

In 2012, UNT's educational leadership program presented UCEA with a five-year improvement plan and was granted provisional membership to expire in 2017. The faculty began redesigning the program's core values, courses and structure. According to Ezzani, program faculty first redesigned the master's degree to an accelerated online program, where currently more than 300 students are enrolled. UCEA touted this program as "carefully designed … to ensure high-quality instruction." Professors then created core values that would develop graduates who could "L.E.A.D.": Lead learning organizations; Engage ethically with the community; Advocate for diversity, equity and inclusion; and Develop theory to practice solutions.  

With these values in mind, the faculty began to re-examine course offerings, and the doctoral program underwent a change in structure to a "blended model," meaning that students attend approximately half of the course sessions face to face and the others online.

 "This [model] is really beneficial for our doctoral students who are working professionals -- school leaders and district leaders," Ezzani said. "This allows them to study, read, think and write online, and then come to class and engage in robust conversations."

Along with this, the Buchholz Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership became a member of the Carnegie Project on the Educational Doctorate (CPED). The Carnegie-influenced doctoral program now functions in a "cohort model," meaning that a group of students are admitted and remain in classes together during their three years of coursework before engaging in the doctoral dissertation process. This model helps faculty develop a learning community with groups of students and allows students to form professional and lasting relationships with one another. Faculty anticipate, with a Carnegie-influenced doctoral program, they will recruit, admit and retain the best students and graduate them on time.   

After making the above changes, UNT's educational leadership program resubmitted its more than 100-page membership application, and UNT was accepted as a full-fledged member. 

"The University of North Texas received strong support for membership," said Pamela Tucker, senior associate director of UCEA. "UCEA is pleased to welcome [UNT] into our community of faculty who are dedicated to improving leadership preparation, practice, and policy. We think [UNT] will offer valuable contributions, and look forward to their active engagement with UCEA initiatives in coming years."    

Redesigning this program wasn't the only thing that led UNT to UCEA membership. Throughout the years, UNT's Buchholz Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership has received generous contributions and support from Don and Ruth Buchholz.

"Part of our being able to get this membership is the ability to show that we have huge support from university leaders, from our dean and chair, and from community members like the Buchholzes," Ezzani said. "The Buchholzes' dream is to make a huge impact out in the field. To that end, our role is to make sure we offer the best program possible so that our students will graduate and make a difference in the lives of K-12 students." 

According to Ezzani, the district leaders from the Dallas-Fort Worth area have already shown a phenomenal response to the Buchholz doctoral program's new structure and UCEA status. The program just admitted 27 students who will attend classes beginning spring 2016 at UNT's New College at Frisco.  Another large group of leaders from Irving ISD is applying in March for admission in the fall as part of the Universities Center at Dallas cohort. 

"Needless to say, it was a lengthy process. A lot of work went into it. We're happy about being a part of [UCEA], but we're also happy to be able to say that we're contributing to the bigger goal of the university," Ezzani said. "I know President Smatresk is really pushing to raise the bar across the entire university, and as a program we're playing our role. I believe with everyone doing their part – college, department and program level – we have risen to and will remain a Tier One university."

UNT to expand low-cost autism services

The Kristin Farmer Autism Center at the University of North Texas has received a $167,000 grant to expand its low-cost autism services to additional families.

The grant, awarded by the Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services, will allow the autism center to serve up to 28 families who may not be able to afford the costs of intensive autism treatment.

"We're thrilled to have been selected as a service provider for the Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services," said Kevin Callahan, executive director of the Kristin Farmer Autism Center. "We look forward to working with additional families to address the critical needs of children with autism in our community."

UNT is recruiting children ages 3-15 who can benefit from focused treatments using evidence-based autism treatments known as Applied Behavior Analysis strategies. The new grant will pay for a significant portion of the total costs of the therapy. These services are often not covered by health insurance, and the cost may be more than many families can afford to pay privately. 

Children in the autism center's program can receive as many as 30 hours of focused therapy per month aimed at improving language and communication, social skills and adaptive behaviors. The autism center's intervention also can target other challenging behaviors that children with Autism Spectrum Disorder often struggle with.

Susan Nichols, associate executive director at the autism center, said she and her staff are excited to begin serving their new clients as soon as possible.

"The UNT treatment model provides effective, individualized and research-based treatments," said Nichols. "Working collaboratively with parents to ensure the best possible outcomes is an important part of our total team approach."

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission expanded the number of grants awarded throughout the state, which will allow the Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services to serve many more families this year.

The Kristin Farmer Autism Center is working to evaluate innovative autism treatments which could further expand access to effective autism programming by Texas families. For information about enrolling for services with the autism center, please contact Kristi Klusman at 940-369-5006. 

Teacher Education and Administration news roundup - Spring 2016

COE faculty partner with U.S., Thai universities to assess math teaching methods

Teams of academics from universities across the United States and Thailand will conduct a long-term collaborative research project about the effectiveness of teaching mathematics in middle grades, organized by COE Associate Professor Colleen Eddy. READ MORE

UNT program helps educators learn about methods, culture across borders

Jeanne Tunks, UNT associate professor of Teacher Education and Administration, is crossing continents to help teachers in Denton and Guatemala learn valuable new skillsREAD MORE

Summer spent speaking and presenting on global topics gives TE&A faculty member new perspective

International travel and research is nothing new to Dina Castro, the Velma E. Schmidt Endowed Chair on Early Childhood Education at UNT. A native of Peru, Castro has made cultural and linguistic diversity in early education the focus of her work. But last summer, a conference with scholars and policymakers from the U.S. and the European Union, as well as several collaborative visits to her homeland, helped her gain a new global perspective on the characteristics and needs of young children from culturally and linguistically diverse communitiesREAD MORE


UNT bilingual education leader participates in NSF grant

Rossana Boyd, the principal lecturer and director of the Bilingual/ESL Teacher Certification Programs in the College of Education, is one of five UNT faculty members who recently received grant funding to participate in an innovative project that will bring together the university's experts in biology, engineering and education. READ MORE


Boyd's project is taking applications from teachers who would like to participate in a paid internship project this summer related to the grant. Must be middle school science teachers who are Hispanic, proficient in English and Spanish, and available for half-day sessions at UNT June 7-30. Email for information.


UNT admitted to exclusive educational leadership consortium

The University Council for Education Administration approved the University of North Texas for full membership as a research utilizing university, making UNT one of only 100 full UCEA members in the United States. READ MORE


Students, faculty from COE Department of Counseling and Higher Education receive national awards

By Mary Murphy

The American Counseling Association recently announced its recipients for the annual ACA National Awards. This year, six out of 35 awards were presented to University of North Texas students and professors for their distinguished achievements.

Dee Ray, Counseling and Higher Education professor and director of the Child and Family Resource Clinic, received the Don Dinkmeyer Social Interest Award for her contributions to the counseling field that positively influence children and their families; Cynthia Chandler, Counseling and Higher Education professor and director of the Consortium for Animal Assisted Therapy, received the ACA Professional Development award for her pioneering and continuing work on Animal Assisted Therapy; and Cynthia Bevly, a doctoral student at UNT, received the Ralph Berdie Memorial Research Award to support a pilot study for her dissertation concerning the assessment of psychostimulant misuse among college students.

Included in the ACA National Awards are the ACA Best Practices Awards, which are given to three nominees each year for their outstanding research projects. Both Yung-Wei Dennis Lin, a former UNT doctoral student, and Jenifer Balch, a senior lecturer at UNT, received an ACA Best Practice Award.

Although Lin is now an assistant professor at New Jersey City University, he received this award for his UNT Ph.D. dissertation research.

"I am so humbly grateful for all the training and support I received in the Department of Counseling and Higher Education at UNT, particularly the Center for Play Therapy," Lin said. "Without all the care, support and training there, this meta-analysis study would never be completed."

Balch received this award for her groundbreaking dissertation research study, which was the first study to be considered an evidence-based design exploring play therapy and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The study demonstrated the importance of attending to interpersonal dynamics in children with ASD, and future researchers can build on Balch's study to create a better understanding of how and to what degree play therapy is helpful for children with ASD.

"I put my heart and soul into my dissertation research and am honored to receive this award as a result of it," Balch said. "I am extremely passionate about working with and advocating for the mental health needs of the autism population and truly believe in the power of play therapy. I hope to see future research and advocacy develop from my study."    

The ACA's International Association for Offender Counselors (IAAOC) also awarded an annual one-recipient research grant to Bryan Stare, a doctoral candidate from the UNT College of Education. Stare will use the grant for his dissertation entitled "African American Males' Experiences of Treatment Mandated by Mental Health Court: A Phenomenological Study."

"I believe that [Bryan's] research can have important implications in the field of counseling, thereby offering skills and techniques to practicing counselors to better understand and serve individuals who fall under the umbrella of addiction and offender counseling," said Delini Fernando, the UNT Counseling and Higher Education professor who nominated Stare for the research grant.

According to Stare, African American men are overrepresented in the judicial system and underrepresented in research on mental health courts, a form of specialty court. Specialty courts are designed to help offenders confront mental health or substance abuse issues in order to reduce the likelihood that those factors lead to a return to prison. Stare plans to study African American males' perceptions and experiences of the mental health services offered at a mental health court (MHC) diversion program in Dallas County to understand what the program is like for participants.

"I feel honored and encouraged receiving this grant," Stare said. "The study I am preparing is very meaningful to me personally and professionally. As my research plan materialized I picked up incredible support along the way from my peers, committee, research team, and now a national organization. I feel very fortunate."

The number of ACA National Awards presented to UNT professors, former students and current students represents the accomplishments and positive impact of those in the College of Education's Department of Counseling and Higher Education, said Janice Miner Holden, department chair.

"I think it's noteworthy that there are hundreds of counseling programs across the U.S., but six of the total 35 [ACA National] award recipients are affiliated with UNT," she said. "We are disproportionately well-represented among award recipients."

The ACA National Awards will be formally presented to recipients at an awards ceremony during the ACA 2016 Conference and Expo in Montreal, Canada, in April.


Above, Jenifer Balch, COE senior lecturer and recipient of an ACA Best Practice Award.

Kappa Delta Pi iLead Teacher Leadership Workshop

Saturday, March 5, 2016 - 6:00am

You are cordially invited to attend the Kappa Delta Pi teacher leadership workshop (called iLead) on Saturday, March 5 on the campus of University of North Texas.

For more information see the iLead Workshop page.

Kinesiology, Health Promotion and Recreation news roundup - Spring 2016

Students from Chinese university learn new teaching skills at UNT

Tao Zhang and Xiangli Gu, sports pedagogy faculty members in the Department of Kinesiology, Health Promotion and Recreation, worked closely with the exchange students from East China Normal University. READ MORE

Widely used textbook co-authored by dean reaches 7th edition

UNT College of Education Dean Jerry Thomas, also a professor of Kinesiology, was first author on "Research Methods in Physical Activity," which was first published in 1985 and has been translated into seven languages. READ MORE

New public health degree part of KHPR

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified a need for new undergraduate programs in public health by 2020. With numerous public hospitals, health departments and non-profit health organizations, the public health job market in the North Texas region is significant, and these organizations will need future graduates to support their effortsREAD MORE

Nauright named chair of UNT KHPR department

An internationally recognized and award winning scholar specializing in sports as related to culture, economics and ethnicity, Nauright comes to UNT from the University of Brighton in England, where he is assistant head of school and director of the Institute of Research and Graduate Studies for the School of Sport and Service Management. READ MORE


Educational Psychology news roundup -- Spring 2016

EPSY students place in national research competition

Three students won awards in this year's National Association of Gifted Children Conference Research Competition, the biggest research competition in gifted education for graduate students in the United States. READ MORE

COE departments welcome potential graduate students

See photos from the Spring 2016 UNT College of Education doctoral preview weekend, held Feb. 26 in Denton. CLICK HERE

Graduate student earns Pathways to Excellence Award

Rheena Bhargava, a graduate student in Educational Psychology who is pursuing a master's degree in Special Education with a concentration in Autism Intervention, earned the department's Pathways to Excellence Award. Bhargava, a practicing pediatrician in her native India and the parents of a young child with autism, plans to focus on effective intervention strategies with parents. READ MORE


Counseling and Higher Education news roundup - Spring 2016


Counseling students, faculty receive national awards

The American Counseling Association recently announced its recipients for the annual ACA National Awards. This year, six out of 35 awards were presented to University of North Texas students and professors for their distinguished achievementsREAD MORE


Alumnus named superintendent of Sherman ISD

David Hicks, a former area superintendent for Denton ISD, was named the lone finalist for superintendent of the Sherman Independent School District in November. Hicks earned a master's degree in Educational Administration and a doctoral degree in Educational Leadership from UNT. READ MORE

Higher Education alumna named Kilgore College's first female president

Brenda Kays, who earned a doctorate in higher education at UNT in 2001, was unanimously selected the ninth president and first female president of Kilgore College, a two-year comprehensive community college about 25 miles east of Tyler. READ MORE

NASPA conference

CHE students, faculty, alumni present at national conference

NASPA (Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education), the major national association for student affairs professionals in higher education, held its annual conference in New Orleans in March. The organization's mission is to promote the advancement and sustainability of student affairs professions. READ MORE