The UNC School of Education honored four faculty members at a Celebration of Scholarly Excellence, with one named to an endowed professorship and three named as faculty scholars, during a Sept. 8 event at the George Watts Hill Alumni Center on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus.
With faculty, staff, alumni, and donors in attendance, Brian Boyd was invested as William C. Friday Distinguished Professor in Education, Nianbo Dong as the Kinnard White Faculty Scholar in Education, Kara Hume as the Richard “Dick” Coop Faculty Scholar in Education, and Ethan Hutt as the Gary Stuck Faculty Scholar in Education. Dean Fouad Abd-El-Khalick was also recognized for a recent appointment as Alumni Distinguished Professor, a professorship awarded by the UNC Office of the Provost.
“We at the UNC School of Education are fortunate to have so many colleagues who pioneer new understandings in their respective fields,” Dean Fouad Abd-El-Khalick said. “We are especially fortunate to have Brian, Nianbo, Kara, and Ethan on our faculty, collaborating and advancing education on behalf of learners and educators.”
The three faculty scholar distinctions were made possible by a gift from Malbert Smith III (’77 M.Ed., ’80 Ph.D.) and Alisa Edwards Smith to honor the outstanding mentorship Smith received as a graduate student from then-professors Dick Coop, Gary Stuck, and Kin White.
After graduating from the School with a Ph.D. in educational psychology, Smith went on to co-found and serve as CEO of MetaMetrics — a Durham-based company that develops scientific measures of academic achievement and complementary technologies to link assessment results with instruction. The company created the Lexile Framework for Reading and the Quantile Framework for Mathematics, among its best-known products, which have been adopted by major publishers and by departments of education across the U.S.
Smith, Stuck, White, and Coop’s wife, Sharon, and members of their families were in attendance for the ceremony.
“The distinctions we are celebrating are made possible by philanthropic support from people who believe in our mission, in supporting the education landscape across the state, and the educational benefits we all accrue from a strong faculty at this School of Education,” Abd-El-Khalick said.
“This gift from Malbert and Alisa Smith is extraordinary on several levels,” he continued. “It looks back and recognizes three forward-thinking scholars who have helped the School to arrive where it is today. And equally important, it looks forward and will enable scholars, generations of them, early in their careers to pursue avenues of research that hold great potential for their field and, ultimately, educators and learners.”
Read more about the recognized faculty members and the namesakes of the new faculty scholar titles:
Brian Boyd, Ph.D.
William C. Friday Distinguished Professor in Education
Brian Boyd, Ph.D., is a William C. Friday Distinguished Professor in Education at the UNC School of Education. Previously, he served as director of the Juniper Gardens Children’s Project at the University of Kansas.
Boyd is quite engaged in research that involves the most vulnerable, and often marginalized, populations. As a special educator by training, much of his research has involved the development and evaluation of evidence-based practices that could be implemented within school and home contexts. His more recent work has focused on how issues of implicit bias and race affect the outcomes of children with and without disabilities.
Boyd’s research has been continuously funded by federal agencies such as the Institute of Education Sciences and National Institutes of Health. Currently, he serves as vice president of the International Society for Autism Research and co-editor of the Journal of Early Intervention. He also serves on multiple national boards that are dedicated to improving the outcomes of autistic persons and those from historically underserved communities.
Nianbo Dong, Ph.D.
Kinnard White Faculty Scholar in Education
Nianbo Dong’s, Ph.D., research program centers on developing and applying rigorous quantitative methods to evaluate educational policies, programs, and practice. His current interests in quantitative methodology focus on design and analysis of the main, moderation, and mediation effects in multilevel experiments, cost-effectiveness analysis, and causal inference.
He has developed three statistical software packages for assisting users design multilevel experiments to detect the main effect (PowerUp!), moderator effects (PowerUp!-Moderator), and mediator effects (PowerUp!-Mediator) of the intervention. His substantive research focuses on the evaluations of the effectiveness of teacher and principal training programs and early child education programs.
His work has been supported by funding from IES and the National Science Foundation. Dong received the NSF Faculty Early Career award in 2017. He will serve as associate editor of Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis and as corresponding editor for Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness from 2023-25.
Kara Hume, Ph.D.
Richard “Dick” Coop Faculty Scholar in Education
Kara Hume, Ph.D., has worked with children and young adults on the autism spectrum for 30+ years in a variety of capacities, including home program therapist, teacher, trainer, consultant, CrossFit coach, and researcher. She is a faculty fellow at the UNC Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute and director of the National Clearinghouse on Autism Evidence and Practice.
Her research aims to increase access for individuals with developmental disabilities to high-quality community-based services and interventions. Much of her work focuses on the design and implementation of interventions for autistic youth, their families, and service providers in school and community settings. With IES funding, Hume co-led the Center on Secondary Education for Students with ASD from 2012-2018. A follow-up grant enabled her to study these adolescents beyond high school to examine employment, education, and community integration outcomes. She recently began an IES-funded study to enhance self-determination and social connectedness in high schools.
At Carolina, Hume’s collaborations have garnered more than $15 million in funding, resulted in 70+ manuscripts and book chapters, and led to two of the largest studies to date examining the efficacy of school-based interventions for students with developmental disabilities.
Ethan Hutt, Ph.D.
Gary Stuck Faculty Scholar in Education
Ethan Hutt, Ph.D., conducts research that focuses on the numbers we use to describe, define, and evaluate American schools. Whether it’’s defining the length of the school year, what constitutes a passing grade, or makes an effective school, numbers exist everywhere in modern schools. Hutt’s work seeks to understand where these metrics come from, how they became central to the work of schools, and the effects they have on how people think about what schools do and how well they do it. In answering these questions, his research often takes a historical approach that emphasizes the role of law and policy in shaping these developments.
Before academia, Hutt co-founded and co-directed a nonprofit aimed at organizing high school students to have a voice in the decisions that affected their school experience. That work deepened his interest in the systems that structure decision making and allocate opportunities within schools and their broader communities — an interest that ultimately led to graduate school at Stanford University.
Fouad Abd-El-Khalick, Ph.D.
Alumni Distinguished Professor
Fouad Abd-El-Khalick, Ph.D., has served as dean of the UNC School of Education since 2016. An elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Abd-El-Khalick is a leading researcher on the teaching and learning about nature of science in precollege grades and teacher-education settings.
Abd-El-Khalick has served as editor of the Journal of Research in Science Teaching (JRST) and associate editor of the Journal of Science Teacher Education, JRST, and School Science and Mathematics. He has held leadership positions in his field, including on the executive board of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching (NARST).
In 2022, NARST bestowed on Abd-El-Khalick their highest honor by selecting him to receive the Distinguished Contributions to Science Education through Research Award.
At the School of Education, Abd-El-Khalick has recruited exceptional faculty and staff members, and led efforts that have boosted research funding, grown enrollment, increased credit hours taught, and expanded student and faculty diversity.
Before UNC-Chapel Hill, Abd-El-Khalick worked for 16 years at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he served as head of the Department of Curriculum and Instruction and associate dean for research and research education in the College of Education, won teaching and research awards, and was invested as the Grayce Wicall Gauthier Professor of Education.
Richard “Dick” Coop
Dick Coop, Ph.D., former professor of educational psychology, was part of the School faculty from 1968-2004. From 1983-87, he served as associate dean, leading the School’s academic planning and development functions. He also served as coordinator of the Educational Psychology Program. Coop died Dec. 29, 2021.
Before earning a doctoral degree at Indiana University, Coop began his career in education as a high school science teacher and coach in Kentucky. At Carolina, he pursued research interests in learning, achievement, performance, and sport and physical skill development. His teaching and research also focused on the psychology of learning, adolescent and child development, and theories and research in human development and individual differences. He authored or co-authored three academic texts and numerous articles in professional journals.
Coop holds a certification from the Association for the Advancement of Applied Sport Psychology and was a consultant to the UNC-Chapel Hill athletic department, providing trainings in performance enhancement skills to 14 varsity teams.
In addition to scholarly work, Coop published trade books, including “Mind Over Golf,” and was a consultant to Golf magazine.
Gary B. Stuck
Gary B. Stuck, Ed.D., professor emeritus of educational psychology, retired from the School in 2000 after 34 years of service to Carolina. He began his career working as a teacher with the Government of Guam in the early 1960s after earning a baccalaureate degree from Hanover College in Hanover, Indiana. He went on to earn master’s and doctoral degrees from Indiana University and joined the Carolina faculty in 1966.
During his career, Stuck was recognized as an outstanding teacher, receiving the J. Minor Gwynn Undergraduate Teaching Award in 1994. Among his numerous publications, his textbook, “Computers and Effective Instruction,” was nominated for an outstanding book award in 1990.
Stuck worked extensively with public schools in North Carolina and beyond, providing service to more than 75 school districts across the state and working with schools and universities in more than 15 additional states. He also held several offices, including the presidency, in the North Carolina Association for Research in Education.
Kinnard P. White
Kinnard P. White, Ph.D., professor emeritus of educational psychology, retired in 1998 after 31 years at Carolina. At the School, White taught measurement and evaluation to graduate and undergraduate students, directed extensive student research, and won several graduate teaching awards from the University. He also helped to launch the School’s middle school program.
In service to North Carolina and its public school students, White consulted with more than 50 state school districts, helping them evaluate the effects of various projects and practices. He also helped conceptualize and implement the Professional Development School, a collaboration between the School, the UNC School of Social Work, and Chatham County Schools focused on preventing students from dropping out of school.