Driven by Excellence

The College of Education at the University of Memphis is Driven by Excellence! We strive for excellence and transform innovation into action as we lead, teach, research, and serve. We train teachers, educational leaders, counselors, and researchers who will impact Memphis, the Mid-South, and the world. 

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The University of Memphis teacher preparation program received an "Exceeds Expectations" on this year's state Educator Preparation Report Card. Read more>.

To see more of the great things happening in the College of Education, visit our News and Events page!>

COE Spotlights

Alison Happel-Parkins

Alison Happel-ParkinsMeet Dr. Alison Happel-Parkins, Associate Professor in ICL. See her faculty profile here>.

Research Focus: All of my research, theoretical and empirical, is feminist in nature. I am currently focusing on issues related to reproductive justice for women. Specifically, I am exploring the connections between women’s informal and formal educative experiences related to sex education, and messages they received about sexuality and their bodies when they were growing up. My co-author and I partnered with a local pelvic floor physical therapist in order to interview women about their cultural contexts (family, religious institutions, etc.) and their experiences of sexuality. We are currently collecting data through a survey in order to be able to make some larger claims about connections and cross-cultural trends.

Teaching Expertise: Dr. Susan Nordstrom and I teach the qualitative research methodology courses in the College of Education. I regularly teach the Introduction to Qualitative Methods (EDPR 8561, face-to-face, hybrid, online) course, the Methods and Analysis course (face-to-face and online), and the Writing Retreat (face-to-face).

Service Highlights: I had the opportunity to co-chair the COE Tenure and Promotion committee this past year. Also, I am co-chair of the university-wide Engaged Scholarship Network committee. This is particularly exciting right now, since we will be bringing back grant opportunities for faculty who want to conduct relevant, impactful research with local organizations and non-profits. It’s fun to be able to help direct what that opportunity might look like for faculty.

Why I love the COE: I enjoy the support that I receive from colleagues. There are always opportunities for collaboration, and even if we approach research differently, we all respect one another. I also love witnessing students “find themselves” in both theory and research. Many students have never before been exposed to qualitative research before our courses; they often are surprised and excited to find that there is a space for their unique interests and passions in qualitative research.

Fun Fact: I've been a vegetarian for 14 years, and this is not easy in Memphis! Also related to food—I am currently a board member for the Compost Fairy, which has been amazing. I love connecting with other ecologically-minded folks in Memphis, and helping both individual houses/residences and small businesses to compost their food waste.

Steven Nelson

Steven NelsonMeet Dr. Steven Nelson, Assistant Professor in LEAD. View his faculty profile here>.

Research Focus: My research agenda interrogates the intersection of education law and education policy and the educational experiences of Black, urban youth. I consider myself a Critical Race Theorist, and I subscribe to the notions inherent into the framework.

Teaching Expertise: I teach courses in education policy and education law. I also teach the Race, Ethnicity, and Gender course and the Politics and Power course in the Leadership Department. My favorite courses are 1) Educational Law (Masters Level), 2) American Society and Education Policy, and 3) Race, Ethnicity, and Gender in American Education.

Service Highlights: I serve as one of the University of Memphis’ Title IX Hearing Officers. I also sit on the editorial board of Urban Education and Educational Researcher.

Why I love the COE: I enjoy the collegiality in the College of Education. In general, I have been able to reach out to colleagues across departments for advice, support, and encouragement. My colleagues have assisted me without hesitation.

Fun Fact: I am a hometown boy! My favorite sports teams are the New Orleans Saints and the New Orleans Pelicans. Moreover, I never trust people who don’t cheer for their hometown teams. Those people are suspicious! Be wary of them!

Staff Spotlight: LaRuth Lofties

LaRuth LoftiesMeet LaRuth Lofties, Office of Teacher Education Graduate Advisor and Teacher Education Program Coordinator. Ms. Lofties has been with the University for 34 years and with the COE for 11 years. She is both a COE staff member and a COE student, working on her doctorate in Instruction, Curriculum & Leadership with a concentration in Urban Education. She says of being both a student and a staff member, " Being a student has helped to keep me grounded and empathic to the needs of our students in COE.  Working as a staff member in COE has given me the opportunity to work with some really phenomenally super faculty and staff members whom I have had the pleasure of getting to know." Ms. Lofties says that she loves working in the COE because "I am a people person, so in both instances I love working with the students, faculty and staff of COE.  I have learned so much from working in this capacity about myself and who I am both personally and professionally.  I have been pushed and challenged with being driven to do above and beyond the norm. " LaRuth loves to play cards (spades, specifically) and thinks she's pretty good. 

Join the COE Faculty

Join our innovative and dynamic faculty. The COE is currently searching for the following:

COE Highlights

Dr. Byford interviewed about his book on East Germany and the Cold War

Byford photoDr. Jeff Byford, ICL Professor in Secondary Social Studies Education, was recently interviewed on The Radio GDR podcast about his book Behind the Iron Curtain – A Teacher's Guide to East Germany and Cold War Activities. Dr. Byford discussed his fascination with East Germany history, writing the teaching manual and his current research on the Free German Youth, also know as the FDJ, an East German youth movement. Listen to the podcast here> or purchase the teacher's guide here>.


COE Teacher Preparation Program Awarded "Exceeds Expectation" by TN Board of Education

The COE Teacher Preparation Program has been awarded an "Exceeds Expectation" in the TN Teacher Prep Report Card. We are one of only nine teacher prep programs (out of the 39 in the state) to receive this honor. Dean Hill-Clarke says of the distinction, "We are proud of the collective and collaborative efforts of our faculty and staff in the College of Education and the support and engagement of our district partners. It is good to see the hard work taking place in the College of Education being recognized across the state. In the College of Education, we have been taking a more intentional approach to the preparation of teachers with an enhanced focus on meeting the needs of P-12 students which includes: closely analyzing and monitoring our data, aligning our curriculum with state standards, strengthening our relationships with district partners, as well as increasing our level of responsiveness and refining our processes and support to ensure that our candidates are student and classroom ready."

Read more about the award here> and learn about our exceptional teacher prep program here>. And read the UofM press release here>.

US News and World Report Ranks COE Programs

Our Online Education was ranked #96 in the Best Online Education ranking. Not only does this ranking now place our program in the top 100, but we are also now #1 in the state of Tennessee. This ranking is a considerable jump from our 2019 ranking of 139 and our 2018 ranking of 150. Read more about the UofM's online program rankings here>.

Dr. Andrew Tawfik and UofM team receive NSF grant

Andrew Tawfik photoThe National Science Foundation awarded a team from the UofM a $3.4 million grant to train individuals in the field of data science and fund research into programs that make data science easy for the public to use. Andrew Tawfik (ICL) worked on the grant as well as Dale Bowman (Math Sciences) and Vasile Rus and Scott Fleming (both from Computer Science). Andrew Olney (Psychology) serves as PI. Data science combines computer science, software design and statistics to analyze and increase access to data. The grant will allow the UofM to develop a data science program that will be accessible to those with and without computer science knowledge. To learn more about this project, read about in the Daily Helmsman here> and also read about Congressman Steve Cohen's support of the project here>. 




COE Departments

The College of Education offers Teaching Certification and so much more! We have three departments that offer over 30 degree programs at the graduate and undergraduate level. To see which degree program will help you pursue excellence, visit our departmental pages.

  • Interested in counseling (clinical mental health, rehabilitation, school, or counselor education), counseling psychology, or educational psychology and research? Learn more about the Counseling, Educational Psychology and Research (CEPR) department>.
  • Interested in teaching at the preK-12 level or using instructional design in business, art, or education? Learn more about the Instruction and Curriculum Leadership (ICL) department>.
  • Interested in being a K-12 administrator or researching or administrating in higher and adult education? Learn more about the Leadership (LEAD) department>.

COE Centers