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Fall 2019 - Faculty & Staff Accolades

Montague Hall on the campus of the University of Minnesota Duluth
December 12, 2019

Highlighting achievements of faculty and staff in the College of Education and Human Service Professions.

Awards and Grants

David Beaulieu, Ruth Myers Endowed Professor of American Indian Education, received a lifetime achievement award from the National Indian Education Association (NIEA). The NIEA  also launched the Dr. David Beaulieu Legacy Scholarship to honor Beaulieu’s career-long dedication to improving Native education.

Lake Dziengel, associate professor and director of graduate studies in the Department of Social Work, directs the Clinical Scholars Program and received a continuing award of $166,667 from the Health Resources Services Administration for the 2019-20 academic year. The $667,000 four-year grant is dedicated to training 40 MSW students who will then seek employment to provide mental health services in underserved communities upon graduation. 

Jessica Hanson received Grant-in-Aid funding from the University of Minnesota. The focus of her project is on the role that social support can play in the prevention of Alcohol Exposed Pregnancy (AEP). One of the main goals of the funding is to determine the feasibility and acceptability of including social support within an existing AEP prevention program. 

Assistant professors of social work Wendy Anderson and Jennifer McCleary received an international travel grant from the Global Programs and Strategy Alliance for travel to New Zealand for a site visit to prepare for the newly developed (and first) faculty-led study abroad program to be offered by the Department of Social Work starting in May 2020. While there, they met with several faculty from local social work programs and organizations working with Maori youth. 


Lake Dziengel, associate professor and director of graduate studies in the Department of Social Work, had a chapter titled “Love and Losses” in an edited text, Queer Social Work: Cases for LGBTQ+ Affirmative Practice, published by Columbia University Press, New York. The text was showcased at the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) Annual Meeting in Denver in October. 

Jessica Hanson, assistant professor of public health, and a team of collaborators published an article in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, focused on the development of a web-based intervention tailored specifically for American Indian/Alaska Native teens. As part of the research, Hanson and her colleagues adapted an existing alcohol-exposed pregnancy prevention program to ensure it was culturally responsive and age-appropriate. 

Rhea Owens, assistant professor in the Department of Psychology, had a three paper major contribution published in The Counseling Psychologist, titled “The Strengths-Based Inclusive Theory of Work.” As part of this, Owens and colleagues developed a new vocational theory—the Strengths-Based Inclusive Theory of Work (S-BIT of Work), which addresses the dynamic nature of work and integrates counseling psychology’s core values of emphasizing vocational psychology, strengths-based perspectives, multiculturalism, and social justice.

Rhea Owens, assistant professor in the Department of Psychology, and her colleagues published the article “Strengths and satisfaction in first year undergraduate students: A longitudinal study” in The Journal of Positive Psychology. This study examined the longitudinal trajectory of strengths knowledge, strengths use, and academic and life satisfaction in first-year college students.


Sean Bedard-Parker, CEHSP accreditation director, was selected for a Minnesota Evaluation Association Scholarship through a competitive process to attend the American Evaluation Association conference.

Assistant Professor Marzell Gray and Associate Professor Amy Versnik Nowak implemented a Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) unit in partnership with faculty at Nottingham Trent University (United Kingdom) and Makerere University (Uganda). The COIL unit is designed to facilitate undergraduate learning about international healthcare systems, cultural competence, and cultural geography

Erin Moldowski, instructor in the Department of Social Work, was selected for the Duluth News Tribune20 under 40” list.

Karen Skrbich, instructor in the Department of Applied Human Sciences, and other faculty in the public health program are conducting a self-study to prepare for CEPH accreditation. Skrbich attended the CEPH (Council on Education for Public Health) Accreditation Orientation Workshop in Washington, D.C. in August where CEPH staff reviewed the steps, requirements, and timeline involved with this three-year process. 

Ladona Tornabene, associate professor of public health, was accepted as one of eight University of Minnesota system-wide instructors to participate in the Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) unit. A partnership is being established to implement an Arts & Health component with faculty from New Zealand’s University of Auckland, who have established Te Ora Auaha, which is a new national alliance of artists, academics and health professionals committed to a healthier New Zealand through the arts. 

Ladona Tornabene, associate professor of public health, was a planning committee member for the MN SOPHE (Society for Public Health Education) state conference with the theme of Arts & Health. Various genres of art (e.g., visual, performing, and literary) were featured regarding their impact on health throughout the lifespan in community, business, school, and hospital settings. Nine UMD public health students gave a day from their fall break to attend this conference held at Gustavus College in St Peter, MN.

Amy Versnik Nowak, associate professor of public health, served as an external reviewer for the Department of Public Health at Brigham Young University.


Assistant professors of social work Leah Cleeland, Shawyn Lee, and Jennifer McCleary presented at the Council on Social Work Education Annual Program Meeting on using graphic novels as innovative teaching tools in social work curricula.

Please note: this webpage of highlights was created from faculty and staff submissions. Are we missing an accolade? Send a note with a brief description (1-2 sentences) to Lissa Maki.

Visit the College of Education and Human Service Professions website.