MARCH 2021
Ernie McCray in front of his original Wildcat picture in McKale Center. 
Celebrating Ernie
From time to time, we like to tell you about one of our favorite alumni, Ernie McCray, who was a teacher and principal for 37 years. He made connections with children with serious emotional issues and impacted countless young lives. He received a bachelor's in education in 1960 and a master's in elementary education in 1962 from our college.

McCray also played basketball for the Wildcats from 1957-1960 where he averaged 17.8 points and 10.8 rebounds in his collegiate career. The unanimous First Team All-Border Conference selection in 1960 also became the first African American men’s basketball player to graduate from the University of Arizona, an accomplishment that McCray does not at all take lightly. 

And then there's the record. McCray, the second African American student to play basketball at the UA, set the school's single-game scoring record with 46 points in a 104-84 win over Cal State-Los Angeles on Feb. 6, 1960. The record stands today. 

McCray grew up in Tucson and attended Dunbar School, the first and only segregated school in Tucson, which was established in 1912. The school was completed in January 1918 and named after Paul Lawrence Dunbar, a renowned African American poet. African American children in first through ninth grades attended Dunbar until 1951, when de-jure segregation was eliminated from the school systems of Arizona. 

Last month, McCray was inducted into the Ring of Honor at halftime of the Arizona game against Washington and now his jersey hangs from the rafters of McKale Center. He was inducted into the UA Sports Hall of Fame in 1988.

Now 82 and retired from his career as a teacher and principal in San Diego that included work with the San Diego Youth Services Board of Directors and the Juvenile Justice Commission, McCray says that being added to the UA’s Ring of Honor “is the honor of a lifetime for me.”

Read these stories about McCray’s induction in the Arizona Daily Star and the Daily Wildcat.

And please join us in congratulating this Tucson treasure!
mccray during his Wildcat days
Join us for the second panel in our new Uncharted Waters series

Uncharted Waters: Early Childhood Educators Making “Good Trouble” to Elevate the Voices of Our Youngest Students 
Thursday, March 18
4–5 p.m.

Learn about the experiences and perspectives of early childhood educators as they share what their work is like in these shifting times, especially as related to diverse values, culture, equity, and beliefs. 

Our panel
Teresa Acevedo, Executive Director, Tucson Children’s Project 
Juanita Ayala, Education Specialist, Head Start, Child Parent Centers, Inc. 
Mimi Gray, Director, Program Development, Tucson Children's Project 
Rebecca Zapien, ECE Community Liaison Coordinator for the College of Education’s CREATE: Early Childhood Teacher Education Program 

Robin Hiller of the Education Policy Center at the College of Education and Iliana Reyes, College of Education Associate Dean and Professor of Early Childhood and Education and Immigration Studies 

Register today! Free and open to the public.
sam thomas playing basketball
Mike Christy photo
One of our students is the first Pac-12
Scholar-Athlete of the Year in university history!

The first student at the University of Arizona to be honored with the Pac-12 Scholar Athlete of the Year Award happens to be our alumna and a current student in the college. Basketball player Sam Thomas already has an undergraduate degree from the college and is now working on her master’s degree in educational leadership. 

The award was established to honor collegiate student-athletes who are standouts both academically and in their sports discipline. Thomas, a star player on the Arizona Women's Basketball team, carries a 4.0 grade point average.

Find out why she is such a standout — other than that great GPA! — in this story from KVOA, Tucson’s NBC affiliate.
border wall
Borderlands Master Teacher Fellow applications due April 22!

We are seeking 13 STEM teachers (grades 6-12) in Southern Arizona to become Noyce Borderlands Master Teacher Fellows. Selected fellows in this National Science Foundation-funded teacher leadership program will earn a STEM Teacher Leadership Certificate and $11,000 per year ($55,000 over five years).

The Noyce Border Scholars Program along the Arizona-Mexico border is a collaboration between the University of Arizona College of Education, University of Arizona Biosphere 2, and Cochise College.

Applications due April 22. 

For information contact, Program Manager Ali Van Gorp at or 520-266-0536.
Sonja Lanehart headshot
“I, Too, Am America” 
Second Annual Luis Moll and Norma González Lecture

“I, Too, Am America” 
Anti-Racist Linguistics 
with Professor Sonja Lanehart

Friday, April 16
Noon–1 p.m.

American poet and social activist Langston Hughes’ “I, Too” recognizes that Black Americans are intentionally erased or omitted from the stories America wants to remember. This strategy is rampant in scholarship.

During this free presentation, Professor Sonja Lanehart will analyze race, ethnicity, and gender as articulated in the feature articles published in several linguistics journals from their inception until 2018. She also will reveal a lack of research that is inclusive of people of color or that is by scholars of color. 

This is part of a large-scale project to expose racism in scholarship and propose an anti-racist language and linguistics research agenda. 

Lanehart is a professor of linguistics and teaching, learning, and sociocultural studies at the University of Arizona. Her scholarship focuses on:

Language, literacy, and education in African American communities
Language and identity
Black education from Black feminist, critical race theory, and intersectionality perspectives 

Join the presentation Friday, April 16. Free and open to the public!
Extreme makeover about to begin, thanks to your support!

The Cooper Center for Environmental Learning campaign to raise $500,000 to build new bathroom and shower facilities was met, and then some!

Thanks to donations both large and small from dedicated supporters, Cooper raised $579,155 for construction, which doesn't include $39,575 originally raised for planning and design. All told, Cooper has raised $618,730 for construction on an eco-friendly bathroom and shower facility, along with a solar-shaded outdoor classroom.

The facilities haven't changed since the 1970s, and Cooper is ready to start transforming the center and expand its ecological and cultural mission, thanks to some very generous donors. The new plans will last for generations, ensuring that Cooper becomes more accommodating, sustainable, and inspirational.

To everyone who donated, shared the many appeals, or rooted for Cooper’s success, we are grateful and humbled by your support.

Stay tuned for more news about our groundbreaking ceremony in April.

If you’d like to help the Cooper Center expand its ecological and cultural mission, please contact Cooper Director Colin Waite.
Announcing the newest Erasmus Circle Fellow

The title of Erasmus Circle Fellow is one of the highest honors bestowed upon our faculty in the College of Education. Erasmus Circle Fellows are faculty leaders who have demonstrated excellence in their fields. They are nominated by their department heads and former Erasmus Circle Fellows, then selected by the College of Education National Advisory Board. 

We are happy to announce this year’s Erasmus Circle Fellow, Department of Educational Policy Studies and Practice Assistant Professor Jameson David Lopez.

Lopez, an enrolled member of the Quechan tribe located in Fort Yuma, California, studies Native American education using Indigenous statistics and has expertise in the limitations of collecting and applying quantitative results to Indigenous populations. He carries unique experiences to his research that include a 2010 deployment to Iraq as a platoon leader where he received a Bronze Star Medal for actions in a combat zone.

Lopez has demonstrated integrity in research, instruction, and service. He inspires both colleagues and students alike! 
boy working with online teacher
Reimagining learning:
33rd Annual Graduate Student Colloquy 

Reimagining Learning in the Time of COVID-19:
Confronting Issues of Equity and Access in Education
Friday, March 26
8:30 a.m.–3 p.m. 

Please join the Department of Teaching, Learning & Sociocultural Studies for the 33rd Annual Graduate Student Colloquy, which is virtual and features Angela Gunder as the keynote speaker. Gunder, the chief academic officer for the Online Learning Consortium, has a wealth of knowledge in creating an equitable online learning environment.

The colloquy provides a space for graduate students to present current research related to the theme, faculty to mentor graduate students, and graduate students to come together to navigate the inner workings of their programs.

Workshops will focus on social justice instruction and culturally responsive healing during COVID-19.

Email Colleen Hill at if you are interested in attending or have any questions.

Learn more and register.
student grace fell
Get “out and about” with a virtual field trip of Worlds of Words

WOW Field Trip
Tuesday, April 13
5–6 p.m.

Embrace the nostalgia you have for school field trips by joining us for a special virtual field trip experience created for our alumni. Find out for yourself what the many K-12 students throughout our community experience when they come to WOW. Enjoy a tour of WOW and hear from WOW Director and Professor Kathy Short and Dean Bruce Johnson. All attendees will receive a special field trip gift in the mail.
sad child
Community connections:
Tu Nidito partnership teaches students about grief

Over the years, Tu Nidito, a nonprofit that specializes in providing — free of charge — emotional support to children, teens, young adults, and families impacted by the diagnosis of a serious medical condition or death of a loved one, has presented a workshop for educators on supporting children. The workshop has always had tremendous value, but it is even more urgent right now. 

This year, Tu Nidito trainer Amanda Marks provided a workshop for all our early childhood and elementary students. Marks shared important statistics about how many children in Arizona experience the death of a family member each year, underscoring the importance of this work. 

Students in the workshop learn about grief at different stages of development (how children of different ages experience grief and understand death and dying or loss) and practical ways to talk to and support children of different ages in a developmentally appropriate way. The workshop includes a Q&A so students also have time to ask questions about children who are experiencing loss.

Assistant Professor of Practice Maura Varley Gutiérrez, who works with our preservice teachers and prepares students to address language, culture, and social justice in the classroom, notes the far-reaching effects of the workshop: “Students apply what they learn in their practicum, student teaching, and future teaching.”

One student said, "Thank you so much for the presentation. I learned a lot, especially about things I was wondering and didn't know where to ask. I was put in a situation a couple of weeks ago, and I didn't know what to do or say. Your presentation gave a clear answer to how to handle that situation. Thank you for that."

Another student said, "Thank you so much for your passion and preparation. I learned an incredible amount that I am already applying in my life, not just in the classroom. I loved the depth and realism."

Special thanks to Tu Nidito for providing such a wonderful service for our students and the community!
Our second offering in the new Diversity Speaker Series

Supporting Undocumented and DACA Students through Higher Education and Beyond 
with Associate Professor Susana Muñoz of Colorado State University
Monday, March 29
Noon–1 p.m. 

Colorado State University Associate Professor of Higher Education Susana Muñoz is program coordinator of the Higher Education Leadership Program and co-director of CSU initiatives for the Race and Intersectional Studies for Educational Equity Center at the CSU School of Education.

Her first book, “Identity, Social Activism, and the Pursuit of Higher Education: The Journey Stories of Undocumented and Unafraid Community Activists,” highlights the lives of 13 activists who grapple with their legality as a salient identity. Her research can be found in the International Journal of Qualitative Studies, the Review of Higher Education, the Journal of Student Affairs, Research, and Practice, and Teachers College Record.

Muñoz was honored by the White House Initiative for Educational Excellence for Hispanics for her teaching and research. She also was recognized as a Salzburg Global Fellow, and named one of the tobp 25 most influential women in higher education y Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Free and open to the public! Register today.
colorful letters spelling the word people
Office of the Dean
Danielle is standing in front of a green bush in a white and black checkered blouse
The university became part of the University Climate Change Coalition, or UC3, in December 2018, joining 21 leading North American Research One universities. Together, the institutions are working to expand their commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and working with community partners to encourage climate-related resilience. Marketing Specialist Danielle Hargett was selected as a UC3 Fellow for the UC3 Collaborative Sustainability Leadership Program. The cohort includes students, faculty, and staff, as well as local community members and works with the university and greater Tucson communities on local environmental, sustainability, and climate action issues. 
Disability & Psychoeducational Studies

Assistant Professor of Practice Rebecca Hartzell and her eight children were featured in this story on KOLD, Tucson’s CBS affiliate, about the adjustment and challenges to working and learning from home. 

Headshot of Kirsten Lansey
Doctoral student and alumna Kirsten Lansey is one of the most industrious students we know, and she’s now accepted a tenure-track assistant professorship at the University of Utah for the fall.

Professor Linda Shaw was featured on a panel for the university’s Center for University Education Scholarship, offering perspectives on the process of writing and publishing on CUES-funded education innovation. She presented with 2018 CUES Distinguished Fellow and Assistant Professor Vignesh Subbian of Biomedical Engineering and Systems and Industrial Engineering.

Headshot of Adai Tefera
Assistant Professor Adai Tefera was honored with the 2021 Early Career Award from the American Educational Research Association, Division G (Social Context of Education).

Demarcus Jenkins headshot
Educational Policy Studies & Practice

Assistant Professor DeMarcus Jenkins has been chosen as an Outstanding Reviewer for 2020 for Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis for the American Educational Research Association and will be recognized during a reception at AERA’s Virtual Annual Meeting this April.

Photo of alumna Juliana Urtubey with her Nevada 2020 Teacher of the Year plaque and certificate. She is wearing a red tee and khaki shorts with a University of Arizona pendant flag in the background
Teaching, Learning & Sociocultural Studies

Not too long ago, we told you that alumna Juliana Urtubey was named Nevada's 2021 Teacher of the Year. Not only that, she is the first-ever Latino/a Nevada State Teacher of the Year. Urtubey earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education in 2009 and a master’s degree in special education in 2011 from the college. Now, the even bigger news: She’s among just four finalists for the 2021 National Teacher of the Year. We will know more by next month, and we will keep you posted. Good luck to our stellar alumna!
Sujey Benavides is wearing a black Adidas tee in front of a building and road
Student Spotlight

Name: Sujey Benavides
Major: Literacy, Learning & Leadership
Minor: Spanish
Expected graduation: May 2021
Hometown: Arlington, Texas

What led you to the University of Arizona College of Education?
My husband enlisted in the Air Force while I was in community college. We received orders to Davis Monthan Air Force Base just in time for me to transfer to the University of Arizona for the fall 2019 semester. Now we are both proud Wildcats!

What have you learned in the College of Education that's made a difference to you?
Every professor, advisor, director, etc. that I have been able to interact with has been extremely kind and more than willing to help. When meeting, they always remember me by name and recall thoughts from our previous conversations. That support has been both comforting and motivating! Wherever I go after graduation, I will be sure to prioritize interpersonal relationship skills because the college showed me firsthand how meaningful that can be for students.

Tell us about something you're involved with in the College of Education and how it has impacted your life.
I love serving as a College of Education Student Ambassador. I remember how intimidating the transition to college was for me and I love having the opportunity to speak with incoming students.

Do you have any advice for students just getting started in college?
Love feedback. Welcome feedback. Ask for feedback! You can learn something from every person and every situation you are around. One of my favorite sayings of all time is, “Luck is when opportunity meets preparation.” Grow from every experience you have so you are prepared when that opportunity comes around.
Thank you all for being a valued member of the College of Education family!

Bruce Johnson
Message from Development

It’s time for spring cleaning

Spring is a great time to tidy up and organize, and it also is a great time to review your philanthropic giving and your estate planning. 

Have you considered creating a legacy gift for the College of Education? A legacy, or planned, gift allows you to make a lasting impact that costs nothing during your lifetime. Planned giving includes options to protect your assets, provide for your family, and guarantee income for life in addition to an income tax charitable deduction. 

A charitable bequest can specify a predetermined cash amount or a percentage of your estate as a gift. Our expert staff can work with you and your financial advisors to prepare the necessary documents without having to create a new will. Please read this information regarding charitable bequests and other planned giving options.

If you have already written the College of Education into your will or trust, please contact me so we can recognize and thank you for your future support and activate your membership in the Old Main Society

Thank you for your consideration.
Lee O’Rourke
Director of Development & Alumni Relations
We want to hear from you! Send your news to
College of Education
1430 E. Second Street | P.O. Box 210069 | Tucson, Arizona 85721 | 520-621-1461