UCO College of Education and Professional Studies - Summer 2020 newsletter
summer 2020 uco.edu/ceps
CEPS Newsletter Header
Message from the Dean's Office
Dean Donna Cobb head shot (updated)Dear CEPS Friends and Colleagues,

During these unprecedented times, many of us have often found ourselves at a loss trying to explain the range of emotions we feel over the current circumstances in our communities or the apprehension we feel regarding plans for the upcoming months. But I have realized amongst all of the uncertainty and disruption there have also been stories of resilience, kindness and unity.

In this summer edition of our college newsletter you will find several pieces of positive news highlighting the ways our faculty and students adapted with creativity, perseverance and compassion during this past spring semester. Additionally, we are proud to share we have a new graduate program beginning in our college this fall, a Master of Public Health in Community Engagement, which is detailed below. You will also have a chance to read about the new faculty members who will be joining our CEPS team beginning this fall. We had several valued members of our faculty retire this past spring, and we are thankful for their many years of dedication and service to Central.

Our faculty and staff have been hard at work in numerous areas across our college this summer with new curricular innovations and student support efforts. I am proud to share several new scholarships have been created to continue to assist our students thanks to generous donors and friends. These include the new Arlene Tsomah Poolaw Belindo Endowed Memorial Scholarship in Counseling Psychology that will assist students from under-served populations, the Dr. Robert Delano Endowed Scholarship in Occupational Safety, and the Elementary Education Endowed Scholarship in Honor of Maj. Gen. Rita Aragon, which is featured below.

We are continuing to navigate the challenges of COVID-19 as we plan for the fall semester. The UCO COVID-19 task force recently released the university’s Fall 2020 Reopening Plan that includes guidelines for academic instruction, classroom procedures, campus events and general health and safety practices. An extended classroom option has been added to several of our course sections across all departments that encompasses virtual seats for in-person classes. Ensuring our students feel safe and valued in their learning environment is our top priority.

We anticipate these next several months to still be full of changes as we navigate our new normal in the classroom, but we remain optimistic and eager to continue serving our students. Please know how thankful we are for your continued support of our college.


Donna Cobb, Ed.D.
College of Education and Professional Studies

Teaching During a Pandemic
Teaching During a Pandemic graphic
On March 18, 2020, the traditional learning environment at Central, as we knew it, was flipped upside down as the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic caused worldwide shutdowns; as a result, all courses for the remainder of the spring semester were moved to a virtual format. Learning, teaching and working took on a whole new look for the entire Broncho community. Many faculty members were given one week to transition all of their instructional materials, assignments and exams online. They were challenged to think and plan creatively to keep students engaged and connected, and some learned new approaches that will likely impact their teaching for years to come. The power of working together to achieve goals and implement strategies never thought possible were common themes during this time. Now that the spring semester is over and they begin to prepare for the upcoming fall semester, many professors are reflecting on what this experience has been like and how they plan to move forward.

Read more “Teaching During a Pandemic” stories on our Broncho blog! »

Master of Public Health graphicNew Master of Public Health in Community Engagement Degree Program

Beginning this fall, UCO will add a new listing to its graduate degree programs with the addition of a Master of Public Health (MPH) in community engagement. The 42-credit-hour degree is designed for working professionals who want to further their studies in the field of public health. Courses will be offered in a block schedule to allow students to focus on one course at a time. Central also currently offers a Bachelor of Science in public health, and students in that program will now have the option to take MPH coursework alongside their undergraduate courses, resulting in the ability to obtain both a B.S. in public health and an MPH In a total of five years. For more information about the program, contact Sunshine Cowan, Ph.D., UCO professor and public health program coordinator.

Contact Sunshine Cowan, Ph.D. »

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Best Colleges graphicCommunity/Public Health Program Ranked Among Top in Nation

The Bachelor of Science in Community/Public Health program at UCO was recently recognized as one of the top programs in the country according to a national ranking by GradReports. Central ranked five out of 25 and is the only higher education institution in the state recognized on the list. The community/public health program prepares public health professionals to identify and assess factors contributing to the health of a population and to promote overall health in all communities. The program maintains four full-time faculty positions and currently has more than 100 students enrolled.

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Maj. Gen. Rita AragonNew Scholarship Established in Honor of Maj. Gen. Rita Aragon

UCO has established a new scholarship for students pursuing a career in teaching in honor of Central alumna and distinguished military leader Maj. Gen. Rita Aragon. A lifelong education advocate, Aragon received both her bachelor's degree in elementary education and her master's degree in guidance and counseling from Central. She served as a teacher, principal and counselor in Oklahoma City Public Schools for nearly 25 years.

Read More »

CEPS alumni just like you help to make a difference every day.
Student Spotlights

Psychology Students Go Digital to Assist Parents/Teachers with Distance Learning
When COVID-19 forced school shutdowns this past spring, a group of psychology students and psychology professor Scott Singleton, DPSY, found a way to assist parents and teachers of special education students across the state with online behavioral consultation videos. The Behavior Central YouTube channel has become highly popular among parent and teacher advocacy groups and has even been featured on several psychology podcasts!

Read the full story and access the YouTube channel on our CEPS blog »

YouTube screenshot (2) YouTube screenshot (1)

Community/Public Health Students Assist with Metro COVID-19 Response Efforts
With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the final semester for UCO seniors turned out to be anything but ordinary. In true Broncho style, many faculty and students embraced this change with flexibility and determination. Students in one senior capstone course at Central even found a way to assist with metro COVID-19 response efforts as a part of their final learning project.

Read the full story on our CEPS blog »

Kelly Smith headshot
Faculty Recognition
  Laressa Beliele 

Laressa Beliele, Ph.D., associate professor and chairperson of the Donna Nigh Department of Advanced Professional and Special Services was recently named president of the Oklahoma chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Beliele has been involved with NAMI for more than two decades.

 Education building

20 new faculty members will be joining our Broncho family this fall across several departments in the college. We look forward to welcoming them to Central! View the full list of new faculty members on our CEPS blog.  View the full list of new faculty members on our CEPS blog »

 Advocacy in Education book cover_

Several CEPS teacher education faculty members recently had their work published in a new book titled “Advocacy in Education: Research-Based Strategies for Teachers, Administrators, and Teacher Educators.” Keith Higa, Ph.D., and Kim Pennington, Ph.D., authored chapters in the book, and Jill Davis, Ph.D., authored a chapter and served as a co-editor of the publication.

Alumni in the News

Coming Soon: Upcoming Events
Fall 2020 Semester begins All classes for the fall 2020 semester are back in session. This includes both in-person courses and virtual instruction.
Homecoming The UCO Alumni Association is continuing to plan Homecoming 2020 events for alumni and friends during the COVID-19 pandemic. More Info

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Spring 2020 newsletter - UCO College of Education and Professional Studies
UCO College of Education and Professional Studies
Spring 2020 Newsletter uco.edu/ceps
Message from the Dean's Office
Dean Donna CobbDear CEPS Friends and Colleagues,

I hope this message finds you safe and well as we all continue to navigate the challenging circumstances now faced by our communities with the spread of COVID-19. As you will read in the stories below, our college has celebrated several accomplishments this spring including the opening of a newly renovated food science lab and the hosting of the annual Multicultural Education Institute. Shared below is also a story about an impactful new course offered to our education students this spring that is pairing statistics learning with real-world social justice topics. We are continually proud of the efforts of our faculty, staff and students in achieving accomplishments with research, events and transformative learning experiences.

Last month, UCO President Patti Neuhold-Ravikumar and members of the UCO COVID-19 task force made the decision, based on advice from numerous public health experts, to move all courses to an alternative, digital learning format for the remainder of the spring semester, and this has now been extended to include summer courses as well. This also included the cancelation of all spring events. Just last week, it was announced that the physical campus will be closed through May 31. In these unprecedented circumstances, our faculty and staff have remained diligent in their efforts to continue to provide high-quality education experiences to our students, and we will continue to work together to make sure our students’ needs are being met during this time.

Because of the measures taken to prevent COVID-19 on campus and the cancelation of all spring events, our annual college Honors & Awards Ceremony has been canceled for this spring. While we regret that we will not have the opportunity to celebrate with our students and donors, we are still enthusiastic to share that over 150 students across all degree programs in our college will receive scholarship assistance for the upcoming academic year, and we are continually grateful for all of our donors and friends whose generosity makes this possible each year.

We will continue to remain positive in navigating new changes as they are presented the rest of this semester and will keep our UCO community updated as often as possible. Thank you for your continued support of our college.


Donna Cobb, Ed.D.
College of Education and Professional Studies

Math for Social Justice

When most people think back on their college statistics class, they likely think of a semester full of charts, numbers, and confusing formulas that take hours to understand. A new course offered at UCO this spring, Math for Social Justice, is aiming to take a new approach at teaching this math concept while providing students with real-world experiences to better prepare them for their future career in teaching. The course pairs statistics with facts and realities about injustices in the world, specifically centered on education and resources teachers often need. Through a partnership with local nonprofit Feed the Children, students in the course have had the chance to conduct hands-on research that will be presented at the end of the semester. Many students shared that this experience has been both eye-opening and encouraging as they prepare for their future careers as educators.

Read the full story on our College of Education and Professional Studies Broncho Blog!

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Students in Food Science labRenovated Food Science Lab Offers More Opportunities for Students, Food Processing Industry

A recent renovation to the food science lab classroom on campus has given students and faculty in the nutrition and food science program the opportunity to conduct new food processing and product development research that advances industry efforts. The lab is located in the Human Environmental Sciences building.


UCO Multicultural Education Institute 2020 award recipients37th Annual Multicultural Education Institute

UCO recently hosted the 37th Multicultural Education Institute that assists teachers, future teachers, paraprofessionals, administrators, students and metro organizations to understand and implement strategies and programs that build cross-cultural appreciation and academic success. As part of the conference, four Oklahoma educators and one organization were honored.


CEPS alumni just like you help to make a difference every day.
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Student Spotlights

The Central Association for Responsive Educators (CARE) student organization held a student legislative advocacy informational meeting with special guest Oklahoma Representative Jacob Rosecrants to inform students on how to be strong advocates for education in the state. Pictured are CARE officers with Rep. Rosecrants.

Central Association for Responsive Educators (CARE) student organization 

Over 150 students across all CEPS degree programs have been selected to receive scholarship awards for the fall 2020 and spring 2021 semesters totaling over $200,000. Special thank you to our generous donors who make our students’ success possible! For more information about scholarships, contact Ms. Erin Ta.

Scholarship recipients

In Memorium: Tiffany Wise

Tiffany WiseUCO lecturer Tiffany Wise died March 6 after a long battle with metastatic breast cancer.

Wise joined the Department of Kinesiology and Health Studies as an adjunct instructor in 2013, then became a lecturer in the Community/Public Health Program in 2014. She had completed all but her dissertation for a doctorate in adult education focusing on health literacy.

Wise pursued teaching courses with passion and continued teaching online courses while undergoing rounds of treatment. She inspired many students and always maintained a strong and positive attitude. This spring, the Community/Public Health Senior of the Year Award, presented at the Honors and Awards Ceremony, will be renamed in her honor. View Wise’s obituary.

Alumni in the News

Abby Anderson (M.Ed. Bilingual/TESL Education) Joins Positive Tomorrows Staff

Alexiss and Linda Lopez (Both ’19 B.Ed. Early Childhood Education) First Graduates of Bilingual Teacher Pipeline Program

Joe Pierce (‘86 M.Ed. School Administration) Named Oakdale Public Schools Superintendent

Karen Youngblood (‘11 M.Ed. Adult and Higher Education – Training) Selected as chairman of the Oklahoma Board of Juvenile Affairs

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