College of Education and Health Professions Welcomes 14 New Faculty Members
The College of Education and Health Professions welcomed more than a dozen new faculty members to the University of Arkansas this fall.
"We're delighted to welcome these talented new faculty members to COEHP," said Dean Brian Primack. "Their professional accomplishments demonstrate a remarkable commitment to excellence in scholarship, research, and teaching. We are thrilled to welcome them to our community."
Each faculty member brings unique research interests and expertise to help prepare students for a variety of careers, including nursing, sport management, exercise science, counselor education, teaching and educational statistics.
They represent five different units within the college.
From left, Alissa Blair and Renee Speight
Renee Speight is a new teaching assistant professor of special education and a Board Certified Behavior Analyst at the doctoral level. She earned a bachelor's degree in political science in 2009, a master's in special education in 2013 and a doctorate in curriculum and instruction in 2018, all from the U of A.
Speight's research focuses on exploring strategies within multi-tiered systems of behavior and academic support to improve outcomes for middle childhood and adolescent learners. She also has interest in supporting teachers in sustained implementation of evidence-based practices. Speight teaches courses on classroom management, high-incidence disabilities, applied behavior analysis for teachers, and supervises undergraduate and graduate students in their field experiences.
Before joining the U of A, Speight worked as a middle school teacher. Speight serves as a board member for the Arkansas Association of Middle Level Education and Arkansas Chapter of the Council for Exceptional Children. She has presented at state and national conferences and her work has been published in the Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions.
Alissa Blair is a new assistant professor whose research focuses on the education of K-12 multilingual learners. She earned her bachelor's degree with specializations philosophy and Spanish from Saint Mary's College in 2002 and completed her master's degree in secondary foreign language education at the University of Notre Dame in 2004. Putting her degrees to the test, Blair taught high school Spanish in Birmingham, Alabama, and then English as a foreign language in Santiago, Chile. Later, Blair earned a doctorate in language and literacies and bilingual education from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2014.
Blair's research interests include academic uses of language, bilingual education, family engagement and teacher education. Her work has appeared in multiple peer-reviewed journals including TESOL Quarterly, Review of Research in Education, Bilingual Research Journal, Linguistics and Education, and Theory Into Practice, among others. Blair joins the U of A from the University of Miami where she worked for two years on a U.S. Department of Education grant project to increase the number of middle and high school teachers qualified to work with culturally and linguistically diverse students in Miami-Dade County Public Schools.
Blair is passionate about working with educators and families to make schooling more just and equitable for linguistically and culturally diverse children and youth.
From left: Page Dobbs, Josh Lens, Alex Russell, Abigail Carpenter Schmitt and Craig Schmitt.
Abigail Carpenter Schmitt is a new assistant professor of exercise science. She completed her doctorate in applied physiology and kinesiology at the Applied Neuromechanics Laboratory at the University of Florida. Schmitt earned bachelor's and master's degrees in sport and exercise science from the University of Northern Colorado. After graduating, she worked for the leading developer of motion capture technologies, Vicon Motion Systems.
Schmitt also spent several years as a biomechanics researcher at Duke University in the Michael W. Krzyzewski Human Performance Lab. She's currently pursuing an interdisciplinary research program exploring the challenges associated with neuromuscular dysfunction. By combining techniques from biomechanics, medicine, neurophysiology and exercise science, Schmitt is improving assessments of human movement with the goal of improving neuromechanical control. Specifically, she is assessing measurement techniques to identify underlying gait instability in people with orthopedic diseases and neuromuscular dysfunction. Through her teaching, mentoring, and research, Schmitt pushes her students and colleagues to consider new ideas that change how they think about the ways people move.
Page Dobbs is a new assistant professor of public health. She received a bachelor's degree from the U of A in food science in 2009. After working for the Northwest Arkansas Tobacco-Free Coalition, she returned to the U of A where she earned a master's degree and then a doctorate in community health promotion. After graduation, Dobbs worked for two years as an assistant professor at the State University of New York at Cortland and, most recently, two years as an assistant professor in the Health and Exercise Science Department at the University of Oklahoma.
Dobbs is currently studying factors that may influence young adults to use novel tobacco products. Some of her recent work used mixed methodology to examine their perceptions about one of the most popular electronic cigarette products, JUUL. Dobbs also has a particular interest in health policy. One of her recent publications in Tobacco Control examined the policy language of state-level Tobacco 21 policies passed in the United States prior to July 1, 2019. She's working with a team now to examine discussions about tobacco control policies on social media platforms.
Craig Schmitt is a new teaching assistant professor in the Recreation & Sport Management program. He earned a doctorate in sport administration from the University of Northern Colorado in 2014, a master's degree in sport business management and an MBA from the University of Central Florida in 2005, and a bachelor's degree in business economics from the University of Florida in 2003.
Schmitt was previously the director of engaged learning and outreach at the University of Florida and an assistant professor of sport and event management at Elon University. He also served as an instructor for the Business of Sport Certificate program at the University of Colorado. Prior to his academic career, Schmitt was a director of YMCA programs in central Florida and Charleston, South Carolina, from 2005 to 2010.
Schmitt's teaching interests focus on the business of recreation and sport management, with a particular interest in sport marketing. He's an advocate of creating opportunities outside the classroom, or through industry engagement in the classroom, for students to be better prepared for their career paths of interest.
Alex Russell is a new assistant professor of public health. He recently graduated with a doctorate in health education from Texas A&M University. Russell earned a master's degree in sport and fitness administration and a bachelor's in media production, both from the University of Houston.
With a broad background in health, Russell has training and mentorship in alcohol-related research. His research has focused on alcohol use and misuse among adolescents and young adults in the following areas: peer influences on college students' alcohol use; alcohol marketing to youth via online and social media; and the protective effects of youth religiosity/spirituality on early onset of alcohol use. Currently, Russell works on leveraging social media data to explore themes of co-use of alcohol and tobacco among youth.
Josh Lens has been a teaching assistant professor in HHPR since 2018 and transitioned over to a new role as a tenure-track assistant professor in the Recreation & Sport Management program this fall.
He earned a bachelor's degree in economics from the University of Northern Iowa in 2002 and his law degree from the University of Iowa College of Law in 2005.
Lens is a former attorney and college athletics administrator who researches and writes about legal issues in sports. He's written numerous law review articles and has been quoted in USA Today, New York Times, and CBSSports.com, among others. His research interests include sport law, college athletics, NCAA legislation, athlete-agent authorities and professional sports collective bargaining processes and outcomes.
From left: David Hall, Heather Hunter, Megan Owen and Lindsey Sabatini
Megan Owen, a native of Northwest Arkansas, is a new clinical nursing instructor. She earned a bachelor's degree from the U of A nursing school in 2013. She obtained a Master of Science in Nursing degree from the University of South Alabama in 2016.
Owen's nursing background is in neonatal intensive care, adult intensive care and mother-baby postpartum care. She worked in pediatric primary care and as a pediatric hospitalist Advanced Practice Registered Nurse. She has taught clinical rotations and worked in the simulation lab for the Eleanor Mann School of Nursing since 2017. She is passionate about pediatrics and critical care and seeks to instill a passion for learning in her students, as the nursing profession requires a lifetime of education. Owen's research interests include pediatric health disparities in Northwest Arkansas and multidisciplinary simulation at the nursing school for better student and patient outcomes.
Lindsey Sabatini has transitioned from an instructor at the nursing school to the interim assistant director. She earned her bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees all from the U of A. Sabatini began teaching as a clinical instructor in 2008 and has been a faculty member since 2012.
Sabatini’s background is in critical care nursing, informatics, pathophysiology and geriatrics. She currently works as an Advanced Practice nurse with a local geriatrician and returned to bedside care recently as an ICU nurse in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Her research interests include student engagement and nurse retention. She has a passion for nursing education and the various job opportunities in the profession.
David Hall is a new nursing instructor. He earned both a bachelor's and a master's degree from the Eleanor Mann School of Nursing. He was awarded the Future of Nursing Education award from EMSON in 2019. Hall was a graduate assistant in the nursing school before taking the new position this fall.
Hall has been involved in nursing education since 2013. During his bedside practice, he worked in psychiatric medicine, home health and acute care. Hall's research interests include studying cognitive load theory and its application to curriculum and instructional design.
Heather Hunter began teaching at the Eleanor Mann School of Nursing in 2014 as an adjunct clinical instructor in various courses and labs. She’s now teaching in the online Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.) program and serving as the online B.S.N. practicum coordinator. Hunter provides support to students as they identify clinical opportunities across the country.
She earned B.S.N. and Master of Science in Nursing degrees from the U of A. Hunter has worked in palliative care programs and hospice organizations as a case manager and inpatient nurse. She’s certified as a hospice and palliative care nurse and has served in various chapters of the Hospice and Palliative Care Nurses Association (HPNA).
Hunter’s research has focused on mentorship within nursing programs — for students and new adjunct faculty as they transition from clinicians to educators.
Maria Ball is the new academic fieldwork coordinator and clinical assistant professor in the college's Occupational Therapy Doctorate Program. She earned a bachelor's degree in biology from Arkansas Tech University in 2005. She graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2008 with her master's degree in occupational therapy. Ball graduated from the University of Kansas in 2019 with a doctorate degree in occupational therapy.
Ball previously worked as a school-based occupational therapist at the Boston Mountain Education Cooperative for 12 years. During this time, she collaborated with many stakeholders to improve student participation and engagement with activities encountered throughout the school day. She's passionate about promoting student inclusion and engagement in the natural environment.
From left: Tameeka Hunter and Lorien Jordan
Tameeka Hunter joined the U of A as a tenure-track assistant professor in the counselor education program. Hunter is a licensed professional counselor, a nationally certified rehabilitation counselor, and a board-certified counselor. Hunter has a bachelor's degree in business administration, a master's degree in rehabilitation counseling and a doctorate in counselor education and practice from Georgia State University. She had a 17-year career in disability services before beginning her doctoral studies. Most recently, she was the director of the Disability Resource Center at Clayton State University.
Hunter's research focuses on the resilience of marginalized, and multiple marginalized populations, including people of color, sexual and gender-expansive individuals, women, and people living with disabilities and chronic illnesses. Her work examines the impact of resilience and strength-based approaches on the psychosocial, educational and vocational functioning of marginalized populations.
Hunter was named the American Rehabilitation Counseling Association Doctoral Student of the Year, an Association for Counselor Education and Supervision Emerging Leader and a Southern Association for Counselor Education and Supervision Emerging Leader. Hunter was awarded the National Board of Certified Counselors Minority Fellowship. Her teaching interests include rehabilitation foundations, counseling research, medical and psychosocial aspects of disability, and intersectional research.
Lorien Jordan is a new assistant professor of educational statistics and research methods. She earned a doctorate in human development and family science as well as a graduate certificate in interdisciplinary qualitative research from the University of Georgia. Jordan has a master's degree in family therapy from Mercer University, a master's degree in studio art from New York University, and she received her bachelor's in studio art from Arizona State University. Before joining the U of A, Jordan was an assistant professor at Mercer University's School of Medicine in Macon, Georgia.
Jordan's research focuses on two intersecting strands: the production, analysis, and critique of qualitative research methodologies, and research that advances social justice in complex systems. Currently, she investigates institutional discourse in education and healthcare to increase culturally-responsive equity, participation, and access.
Jordan's work has appeared in 16 peer-reviewed publications, and she has an international and national presentation record. Her research has been recognized with such awards as the U.S. Graduate Student Fulbright Award, the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy's Dissertation Award and the Cutting-Edge Research Award. Jordan serves on the editorial board of The Qualitative Report, is a licensed marriage and family therapist, and governor appointee to Georgia's behavioral health licensing board.
About the College of Education and Health Professions: The College of Education and Health Professions offers advanced academic degrees as well as professional development opportunities and learning communities in service to the education and health systems of Arkansas and beyond. The college provides the education and experiences for a variety of professional roles, ranging from community mental health counselors to school teachers and leaders. Programs in adult and higher education, along with educational technology and sport management, offer a broad range of options. In addition to education-related opportunities, the college prepares nurses, speech-language pathologists, health educators and administrators, recreation professionals, rehabilitation counselors and human performance researchers.
- Health, Fitness & Wellness
- College of Education and Health Professions
- Department of Health, Human Performance and Recreation
- Eleanor Mann School of Nursing
- Department of Rehabilitation, Human Resources and Communication Disorders
- Department of Occupational Therapy
- Department of Curriculum and Education
Shannon G. Magsam, director of communications
College of Education and Health Professions
Asya Ozkizilcik, a Post-Doctoral Fellow for the Department of Biomedical Engineering, has received an American Heart Association fellowship.
In collaboration with the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, U of A's Asian Pacific Americans Employee Impact Group and Ensemble HanSori pay musical tribute and remembrance through a video.
Megan Rodgers, an International and Global Studies student at the U of A, has been selected to present at the 2021 Notre Dame Student Peace Conference, April 15-17.
Understanding the Short Fiction of Carson McCullers has been recognized as a Finalist in the 23rd annual Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Awards in the category of Women's Studies. Casey Kayser, assistant professor of English, co-edited the collection.
Second-year law students Collin Heard and Donta Dismuke won the final round of Board of Advocates Negotiations Competition held on April 9 via Zoom.