holiday lights and happy holidays

The holiday season gives us a chance to reflect and the opportunity to say thank you for your dedication to education and to wish you the very best for the new year. We have made huge strides in education this year, and we could not have done it without your support. You have our heartfelt gratitude.

One of my favorite ways to celebrate the holidays is cooking with my grandchildren. My 11-year-old granddaughter Talia and I recently spent some time in the kitchen making a Dutch baby pancake. 

In fact, Lo Que Pasa, the university's electronic newsletter for faculty and staff, is running a series on UA deans. I was featured this semester , and I enjoyed talking about my love for cooking, especially with my grandchildren.


The College of Education National Advisory Board, all wearing UA colors and representing the Bear Down spirit, also sends you merry wishes for a wonderful holiday and happy new year.


For the past four years, the College of Education has been home to an amazing program: Project FOCUS enables youth with intellectual disabilities to experience the excitement of going to college. In order to help sustain this program, we are seeking $30,000 in support through a new crowdfunding effort that began November 18 and continues until January 13. 

The program works like so: Students with intellectual disabilities complete a two-year program at the UA, giving them a strong bridge to employment. The program is powerful with fabulous outcomes: graduates have more than double the rate of community engagement and employment when compared to the same-aged peers with intellectual disabilities. Together, the students and peer mentors, who also are students attending the UA, mutually benefit from their relationships with new friends, new learning, a sense of accomplishment, improved communication, and a sense of one's self in the world.

Watch this video to see how far-reaching this amazing program is.

Ryan Romo, who served as a peer mentor, commented on the powerful learning that Project FOCUS provided: "Working at Project FOCUS gave me confidence in my abilities and also confidence that if we can create such a loving, accepting, passionate community at the UA, this kind of community can spread to other places as well." 

Please support this effort with your contribution by going to the crowdfunding site here. Also, please share this information within your network. You likely know others who would support such a worthwhile cause. Your gift will affirm the work of the peer mentors and the students they work with.


decorated grad caps

decorated grad cap

Congratulations to all our December graduates! The college held its convocation ceremony yesterday at the Student Union, and the following students also received awards.

Outstanding Senior
Hunter Williams

Outstanding Graduate Student
Kelli Lynn Gray

Outstanding Senior, Deaf Studies
Maggie Johnson

Outstanding Senior, Rehabilitation
Alison Strandberg

Outstanding Elementary Student Teacher
Symantha Espinoza


save the date card for resplandor and wow fundraising event


These two students enjoyed a breather from finals with some hot cocoa during Cocoa with the Council

Winter is almost here and your Alumni Council is not hibernating. We continue to increase our involvement in the college with our weekly office hours to provide service to students and staff. 

Our wonderful
College of Education Ambassadors
We recently hosted a finals stress-reliever, Cocoa with the Council, for faculty, staff, and students. About 50 education students came by to take a break from finals. College of Education ambassadors ran four stations: stress relief (making stress balls out of balloons and flour), study skills (Pictionary), health (what to eat and memory tips), and exams (eight-day study plan). 

Yesterday, we continued our tradition of handing out Arizona-red carnations at winter convocation as we welcomed more alumni to Wildcats for Life.

Next semester, we hope to develop a speakers' series about education topics and research. We also want to develop forums that connect future teachers with the best and brightest educators serving right here in Southern Arizona. Keep checking for information through all the college's social media outlets for our progress.

Join the Alumni Council at our monthly meetings to give your input and to participate in our service to the college. Here is a list of our spring 2016 meetings ( all meetings are 5:30-6:30 p.m., location TBA):

January 25
February 15
March 21
April 18
May 9
We now have an e-mail address for the council at, or call us at 520-621-1375. You also could stop by our office in room 238 in the college's Student Services area for a visit!

As always, we'd love to get your input on how we can serve our College of Education alumni, so please feel free to contact us.  Be sure to BEAR DOWN!

David Overstreet '80 '86
Alumni Council President


nancy yaeli and ron marx
Nancy Yaeli and Dean Marx

homecoming group
Homecoming fun at the Wheel of Fortune (which meant spinning for cool prizes!)

Gladys "Hap" Beaven and family
at the photo booth

Warren Jacobson, the 2015 Alumnus of the Year, is flanked by Dean Marx and UA President Hart


College of Education graduate student Jesus Jaime-Diaz taught Chicana/o History 101 to Mexicayotl Academy seventh-grade students from Nogales, Arizona, and Nogales, Sonora. The class came to the UA to present their final-semester projects, which included models of murals, traditional dancing, and poster presentations. This was a great opportunity for these young students, some of whom had never been to the university campus before, to see what college life is about.


erasmus event
Danielle and Steven Thu with their scholarship recipient Simone Charles (left)
erasmus event
Jeff Milem and Rose Santellano-Milem (left) with Regino Palazuelos 

Nearly 100 guests attended this annual reception where Erasmus  Circle Members and Patrons meet their undergraduate and graduate scholarship recipients.
Fernanda Sandoval, an elementary education major, was the undergraduate speaker, and  Karina Salazar, a doctoral student in the higher education program, was the graduate speaker. They b oth gave inspirational speeches about their background, their commitment to education, and how important scholarships from donors are to their personal success.


College of Education Director of Outreach Sara Chavarria, who also is the  assistant director of the STEM Learning Center, was featured in this story about  a new $1.1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education that will help the UA retain hundreds of additional students in the high-demand science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields. 

nancy mather
Tech & Learning Magazine, the leading publication in the education technology market, named Mindplay's Teacher Companion,  co-authored by Professor Nancy Mather (Disability & Psychoeducational Studies),  as a recipient of the Tech & Learning Award of Excellence in New Products. The companion is an eight-module online professional development course for K-12 educators. Read more here .

michael chang

Ernest W. McFarland Distinguished Professor in Leadership for Education Policy and Reform Jeff Milem (Educational Policy Studies & Practice) brought Mitchell J. Chang to the UA to deliver the Fourth McFarland Lecture. Chang, a professor of higher education and organizational change and Asian American studies at UCLA, discussed the use of race-conscious admissions practices and civil-rights activism on racial politics. 

Elementary education alumna and current educational psychology graduate student Lauren Pierce was quoted in The Washington Post about a new app that aims to turn monotonous exercise into fun. A former cross-country athlete in high school and current coach of high school distance runners, she enjoys marathons and triathlons, and she credits the app with helping her become a faster runner.  She likes the app so much that she has taken an uncompensated position in which she provides feedback to its developers and tests new features. Here's the full story.

See you in 2016!

signature of Ron Marx
Dean Ronald W. Marx