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Founder of Unique Education Program Will Speak at the U of M September 29
For release: September 26, 2011
For press information, contact Curt Guenther, 901-678-2843.

Dr. Mary Ann Rankin
Dr. Mary Ann Rankin
Dr. Mary Ann Rankin, the founder of UTeach, will help the University of Memphis observe the first anniversary of the introduction of an innovative and successful teacher education program on its campus.  She will be joined by Dr. Richard Rhoda, executive director of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC), and Dr. Shirley Raines, president of the U of M.

Dr. Rankin, Dr. Rhoda, and Dr. Raines will speak at a breakfast meeting at 8:30 a.m., September 29th, in the Rose Theatre on the U of M campus.

UTeach MEmphis is a collaboration between the College of Education and the College of Arts and Sciences.  It allows students majoring in mathematics or science to sample the world of pre-college teaching and to earn the certification required to teach either of those subjects in secondary school, while the students continue the coursework necessary for their Bachelor of Science degree.

As an example of the success that the University’s UTeach MEmphis program has achieved during its first year of operation, two U of M math majors, EuDarius Jones and Allison Neubert, worked with a student in a third-grade math class at Shady Grove Elementary School and made a significant difference in his performance in class.  The pair used such teaching aids as fraction bingo, fraction songs, and the popular childhood game of Simon Says to help the student understand math more clearly.  As a result, said mentor teacher Phyllis Adams, the student, who had rarely participated in class, particularly during math lessons, has become much more involved in class, even raising his hand to give answers.  Adams said the student’s math grades have improved noticeably.

Dr. Rankin is currently chief executive officer of the National Math and Science Initiative.  Holding a Ph.D. degree in physiology and behavior from the University of Iowa, she was a professor and administrator in the College of Natural Sciences at the University of Texas in Austin from 1975 to 2011.  After receiving her degree, but before she joined the UT faculty, she was a National Institutes of Health postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University.

After being named dean of UT’s College of Natural Sciences, she presided over the addition of five new science buildings, the development of many interdisciplinary research initiatives, and the College’s raising more than half a billion dollars from private donors for its initiatives.  Among those initiatives was the UTeach program for preparation of math and science teachers.

Dr. Rhoda has been the executive director of THEC since 1997, but his involvement in higher education in Tennessee dates back to 1973, when he was a graduate student working on the staff of the Tennessee Board of Regents.  Since that time, he has worked with TBR in a number of capacities, including that of acting chancellor after the death of sitting chancellor Otis Floyd in 1993.  He has also served on the administration of Tennessee State University, as the interim president of Nashville State Technical Institute, and as the interim president of Austin Peay State University.  From 1995 to 1997 he was a faculty member at Vanderbilt University, where he helped establish the Peabody Center for Education Policy.  He holds a Ph.D. degree in higher education administration from Vanderbilt University.

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