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2016 Alumni Award Recipients

Award recipients will be honored at the COE Homecoming and Alumni Award Ceremony on October 28, 2016.

Nancy Golden, MS ’74, PhD ’87

Outstanding Alumni Award

Professor of Practice
Department of Educational Methodology, Policy, and Leadership
University of Oregon

The Outstanding Alumni Award is given in recognition of alumni for significant contributions in education and other fields that have had a national impact on educational policy, professional practice, community service, research or scholarship.

Nancy Golden was nominated in recognition of the lasting positive change she has created in the lives of students in every role she has played in education. She has served students, families, and communities throughout Oregon and beyond with tenacity, professional passion, and a relentless focus on supporting equity for those least served by the education system. She has held many leadership positions in schools over the years, including superintendent of the Springfield School District, where her transformative work was recognized by the state with the 2011 Oregon Superintendent of the Year Award. Nancy has also worked as director of the Administrator Licensure program in the College of Education; education policy advisor for former Governor Kitzhaber; and Oregon’s chief education officer. In 2015, she was appointed as the College of Education’s first-ever professor of practice.

Nancy’s deep understanding of how education systems work, combined with her authentic and humble personal style, have allowed her to ask challenging and frequently uncomfortable questions about how to improve outcomes for Oregon’s students. More importantly, her approach motivates those around her to take part in finding real solutions to Oregon’s most pressing problems. Because of her leadership, systems function better in serving kids everywhere.

Nancy’s legacy as a leader will long sustain itself in the lives of generations of mentees and students she influenced along the way. Her life’s work exemplifies a fundamental value of the College of Education: integrate the strongest sources of evidence with real-world professional practice to improve the capacity of education systems to serve all students.  

H. Marshall Peter, MS ‘76

National Public Policy Award

Executive Director, retired
Direction Service, Inc.

The National Public Service Award is given in recognition of alumni who have engaged in public service, making a substantial difference for people, organizations, or governments through a single influential act or a series of steps that produced positive societal change at a national or international level.

As the executive director of Direction Service, Inc. and the director of the Consortium for Appropriate Dispute Resolution in Special Education, or CADRE, Marshall Peter's dedication to collaborative problem solving and social justice have strongly impacted our local community and the national landscape in parent-school relations. Under his leadership, Direction Service has become a multi-faceted organization. His work impacted Lane County and the state of Oregon by offering family support services to children with disabilities and highly regarded mental health and counseling services to children, adults, and families, including those with special needs.

At a national level, Marshall is highly regarded for advancing policies and professional practices in special education dispute resolution. While the US Department of Education has been forced to cut funding in recent years for a number of its national special education technical assistance programs, it has continued to place priority on reserving, and even increasing, technical assistance funds to support CADRE services.

His extensive work on conflict resolution and collaborative problem-solving has advanced the field of early dispute resolution, leading to a dramatic increase in the use of facilitated individual education programs and other alternative dispute resolution options. His guidance to states and districts has resulted in improvements to dispute resolution systems across the country, and his advocacy and powerful communication skills have helped parents tremendously, encouraging parties to cultivate mutually beneficial partnerships. Marshall’s fervent advocacy and unwavering commitment to issues of equity have heightened awareness of and access to dispute resolution for our nation’s most vulnerable children and youth.

Marshall recently retired as CEO of Direction Service and CADRE, and continues to serve and lend his expertise to our local and state communities and nationally in education, special education, policy and advocacy.

Asha Jitendra, PhD ‘91

Distinguished Alumni Award

Educational Psychology
University of Minnesota

The Distinguished Alumni Award is given in recognition of alumni who have achieved significant professional, community service or personal accomplishments more than ten years from their graduation date.

Asha Jitendra came to the United States in 1984 from Madras, India, to study special education, in part because she wanted to better support her daughter, Aarti, who has a developmental disability. Interestingly, although Aarti loved math and had a prodigious ability with numbers, she had a difficult time with math word problems. This specific difficulty served as the basis for Asha’s dissertation topic at the University of Oregon and more than 25 years of research. She credits Aarti for serving as the inspiration for this work, which is a unique program of research on mathematics word problems known as schema-based instruction.

Her impressive portfolio now includes 101 refereed publications in the some of the most prestigious research journals in the field of education, including 7 journal articles that are currently in press. This record also includes co-authorship on a highly respected and widely cited Institute of Science Practice Guide, two college textbooks, 12 book chapters, numerous technical reports, and more than 200 refereed and invited national and international professional conference presentations.

Asha has been recognized for her significant professional contributions to the field on several occasions. Most recently she was named as the Special Education Research SIG’s Distinguished Researcher Award of the American Educational Research Association in 2016.

Asha is one of the premier scholars in the field of special education today. She does highly sophisticated, careful research that has always had a direct impact on the lives of children with, or at risk of disability. This blending of high quality scholarship with a direct connection to practice is one of the hallmarks of our work here at the University of Oregon, and not only has Asha continued that legacy through her own professional contributions, but she also has contributed to the recognition of the UO as a center of excellence.

Allison S. M. Lau, MS ’04, PhD ‘07

Horizon Award

Associate Dean for Counseling and Student Judicial Affairs
Highline College, Washington

The Horizon Alumni Award is given in recognition of alumni less than ten years from their graduation date who have demonstrated a commitment to excellence in post-collegiate life and a significant or ongoing commitment to extraordinary work, research or volunteerism.

Allson Lau was nominated in recoginion of the ways she works to make education more accessible for students from underrepresented groups and for students who struggle with mental health challenges. She has improved the life of students through her work in counseling centers, academic departments, and in student judicial affairs.

Within 5 years of graduating, she was hired as program chair of the Counseling Center and Human Development Academic Department at Bellevue College. This position required her to provide academic leadership and direct mental health student services. She worked tirelessly for department-level changes to increase equity in curriculum development, service provision, and faculty development. Fighting for such changes as a new department member, and as someone isolated from the homogeneous faculty group in different ways, was unbelievably challenging. Alison handled these experiences with professionalism, courage, and persistence, all with the aim of creating better educational experiences for underrepresented students as well as for herself. Recognition of her commitment to equity, inclusion, and diversity are evident as she was appointed to the visioning task force for the vice president of diversity at Bellevue College and served as committee co-chair for the committee on ethnic minority affairs, Washington State Psychological Association.

Currently serving as associate dean for counseling and student judicial affairs at Highline Community College, she has applied her comprehensive training to promote holistic education in the community college system. She has taken an active role in applying her counseling psychology training to her work intentionally referring to psychological theories (e.g., ecological, developmental, and cultural) to frame her work adjudicating student conduct cases, promoting healthy student development, and supervising her counseling center direct reports.

She has worked tirelessly to reform the processes her college uses to respond to students of concern, conducting a significant overhaul of the counseling center practices and approach, and developing a behavioral assessment team. Her innovative work has transformed the approach the college has taken to working with students experiencing barriers to college success. Her process‐oriented, yet relational and developmental approach has set the stage for empowering interventions that make great change systemically. The strengths of her approach result in building relationships with students in addition to colleagues. We can take great pride in knowing that we have an alumna such as Alison making an impact on our community.

Arwen Maas-DeSpain. MEd ‘11

Community Impact Award

Oregon Health and Sciences (OHSU) Novel Interventions in Children’s Healthcare (NICH) program

The Community Impact Award is given in recognition of alumni who devote their time, talents, and expertise to improve the quality of life and/or the educational climate in their local community.

Arwen Maas-DeSpain has devoted her career and volunteerism to service and support — both with individuals and with systems-level change. For example, since graduation and in her role as an interventionist with Oregon Health and Sciences University, she has provided hundreds of hours of support to children and youth who face chronic medical conditions. Prior to this, she served as a program supervisor, therapist, and case manager with Oregon Community Program’s (OCP) evidence-based intensive care treatment services. She continues to serve the community through various roles with OCP.

She also volunteers at Occupy Medical as a support services team leader. In this volunteer role, she coordinates and trains mental health interns and volunteers, provides crisis response and counseling services, and assists community members in accessing basic resources — from housing, to food support, and dental, and medical care. In conjunction with the COE, she now has developed opportunities for couples and family therapy interns to gain important experience working in this capacity. Because of her innovative vision and passion to serve the community, couples and family therapy interns will provide outreach and mental health support to the many houseless individuals as part of Occupy Medical’s outreach efforts. This is only possible because of her commitment to training and supervising the interns — all volunteer hours and without pay. She is an asset to the Couples and Family Therapy program, to the COE, and to her community. Arwen embodies the COE mission statement; not only does she make educational and social systems work for all —she works tirelessly to do so.

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