Velma E. Schmidt Endowed Chair for Early Childhood Education

The Velma E. Schmidt Endowed Chair for Early Childhood Education was initiated in 1991 using the donation of lifelong childhood educator Velma E. Schmidt, who willed her estate to the University of North Texas for the construction of an endowed chair position dedicated to improving life circumstances and learning opportunities of/for young children. The position has been previously been held by Dr. George Morrison (1995-2005) and Dr. Gaile S. Cannella (2009-2013).

Dina C. Castro, MPH, PhD, is the current Velma E. Schmidt Endowed Chair in Early Childhood Education.

Dr. Castro holds degrees in Early Childhood Education and Special Education (PhD), Public Health (MPH) and Psychology (BS).  Her scholarship focuses on quality and equity in the early care and education for bilingual children and children from diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds, in particular those living in poverty, and factors affecting the well-being of immigrant children and their families.

Dr. Castro has directed or co-directed various research and evaluation studies of national relevance. She served as Director of the Center for Early Care and Education Research: Dual Language Learners, a national research center funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. She was also Principal Investigator on the study Nuestros Niños Program: Promoting School Readiness for English Language Learners funded by the National Institute for Child Health and Human Development (NICHD).

Prior to joining UNT, Dr. Castro was a Research Professor at the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, Arizona State University (2013-2014), and a Senior Scientist at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (1997-2013). She has published numerous peer-reviewed articles, book chapters, research briefs and technical reports, and presents nationally and internationally as an expert on the early education of children from diverse cultural, ethnic and language backgrounds. She is the lead author of the book New Voices ~ Nuevas Voces Guide to Cultural and Linguistic Diversity in Early Childhood.