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Sampling Black History with Hank Shocklee, Mad Skillz, Chris Cotropia & Erik Nielson

Continuing Connections

SPCS Dean’s Update, Spring 2018

Sampling Black History with Hank Shocklee, Mad Skillz, Chris Cotropia & Erik Nielson

Letter from the Dean

Photo: Dean WilsonDear Friends:

The spring semester always seems to go by fast, but this spring has been busier than normal. Our Partners in the Arts program launched the Arts Integrated Learning Certificate Project with Richmond Public Schools. We graduated the first class of UR Coding Boot Camp, and we just launched the Richmond region's first Political Campaign Management Professional Certificate program, which starts in August. We had the honor of hosting hip hop artist, rapper and producer Donnie Mad Skillz Lewis as the very first SPCS Artist-in-Residence. Skillz has been co-teaching “Voice of Hip Hop in America” with Dr. Erik Nielson. Skillz was also a part of Sampling Black History, a public lecture and panel discussion that examined hip hop as a social, political, and artistic movement.

As Commencement approaches, I invite you to honor this year's graduating class by making a contribution to the 2018 Class Gift Campaign. Your gift, at any level, honors the hard-working members of this year’s SPCS graduating class like Kendyl Crawley Crawford, the 2018 Student Commencement Speaker. Kendyl is graduating with her Master of Nonprofit Studies degree. She's Director of Virginia Interfaith Power & Light, an organization that works with faith communities and people of all faiths to ensure healthy communities and environmental justice through education and advocacy. Like many of you, Kendyl earned her degree while working full time and balancing a variety of other personal and professional commitments. Kendyl has maintained a 4.0 GPA, and we are honored that she has been selected to be this year's student speaker.

In honor of Kendyl or any of this year's graduates, please consider a monthly recurring gift or a one-time donation of $20.18. To make your gift today, visit us online.

I hope you enjoy reading this issue of Continuing Connections. It's a simple way for us to continue to connect and stay in touch. If you have news you'd like to share with us, take a few minutes to complete the simple Keep SPCS Updated form below.

Before I close, I would like to invite SPCS alumni to the SPCS Reception at Reunion Weekend. All SPCS graduating classes are invited to participate in Reunion Weekend each year. This year’s reception will be held on Friday, June 1, at 6 p.m. Visit us online for additional details and to register.

Take good care,

Signature: Jamelle
Jamelle S. Wilson, Ed.D.

Previous Edition

Fall 2017

Faculty & Staff Notes

  • Hocutt named program co-chair

    Dr. Daniel Hocutt, web manager and adjunct professor of liberal arts, has been named program co-chair for SIGDOC 2020, the annual conference of the Association for Computing & Machinery (ACM) Special Interest Group for Design of Communication (SIGDOC) to be held at the University of North Texas October 3-4, 2020.

  • Laursen co-authors article with SPCS graduate

    Dr. Erik Laursen, adjunct associate professor of education, has co-authored with alum Kirsten Logan, GC’18, the article Does Mindfulness Strengthen Self-efficacy in First Grade Students? in the Journal of Teacher Action Research.

  • Cassada quoted on middle school teacher conferences

    Dr. Kate Cassada, assistant chair and associate professor of educational leadership and policy studies, is quoted in Sylvan Source blog in a post titled Middle School Parent-Teacher Conferences: What to Know. Cassada encourages parents to attend their middle schooler’s parent-teacher conferences.

  • Shields co-authors report highlighting value of school diversity

    Dr. Tom Shields, SPCS associate dean and associate professor of education & leadership studies, has co-authored a report highlighting the value of school diversity. Written with scholars from VCU and the Virginia Housing Alliance, the report focuses on Richmond’s school rezoning efforts.

  • Spires publishes article on Hong Kong youth

    Dr. Bob Spires, assistant professor of education in SPCS, has published with two co-authors the article Generalized Self-Efficacy of Youth in the New Territories [of Hong Kong] in the Asian Studies & Development Studies journal.

  • Carpenter named officer on engagement committee

    Liza Carpenter, administrative coordinator in the Education department, has been named recording secretary as an officer on the A&S Staff Engagement Committee. In her role, Carpenter engages students, faculty and staff in Schools of Arts & Sciences and Professional & Continuing Studies.

  • Nielson interviewed about upcoming book release

    Dr. Erik Nielson, associate professor of liberal arts and assistant chair of the Master of Liberal Arts program, is interviewed in The Crime Report along with co-author Dr. Andrea Dennis about their upcoming book, Rap on Trial: Race, Lyrics and Guilt in America.

  • Thornton #3 in top 100 ethical leadership Twitter accounts

    Linda Fisher Thornton (@leadingincontxt) ranks #3 in the Top 100 accounts on Ethical Leadership on Twitter according to Finster Data. Her book, 7 Lenses: Learning the Principles and Practices of Ethical Leadership (@7lenses), is also on the list at #11.

  • Haggerty quoted in Style Weekly feature

    Dr. Abbi Haggerty, adjunct assistant professor of nonprofit studies and executive director of the Richmond Performing Arts Alliance (RPAA), is quoted in a Style Weekly feature on the impact of the RPAA in the ten years since the Dominion Energy Center for the Performing Arts opened.

  • Laing achieves CliftonStrengths Coach certification

    Kathy Laing, GC’08, GC’16, program manager for the Institute on Philanthropy at SPCS, has earned the designation of Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach for coaching individuals and groups using their CliftonStrengths.

Alumni Notes

  • Mark Gan, C'17, hired as cyber security engineer at Accenture

    Mark Gan, C’17, has been hired as Cyber Security Lead Specialist Engineer at Accenture in Washington, D.C. Gan graduated in 2017 with a BSPS in IT Management, earning the Jean H. Proffitt Student Service Award at SPCS Night.

  • Kimberly Bridges, GC'13, quoted in analysis of Virginia politics

    Dr. Kimberly M. Bridges, GC’13, is quoted in The 74 analysis of Virginia education policy gains in the event of democratic wins in the November 5 election. The article was published two days prior to the election. Bridges earned a M.Ed. in Educational Leadership & Policy Studies and is now a professor in VCU’s School of Education.

  • Kirsten Logan, GC'18, co-authors article with professor in peer-reviewed journal

    Kirsten Logan, GC’18, has co-authored an article with SPCS adjunct associate professor Erik Laursen titled Does Mindfulness Strengthen Self-efficacy in First Grade Students? in the Journal of Teacher Action Research. This article represents the first peer-reviewed publication published by a student or graduate of the M.Ed. in Curriculum & Instruction program.

  • Ernest Woodard, C'19, hired as systems developer for Henrico County

    Ernest Woodard, C’19, was recently hired following a Career Services-support job search as a Systems Developer II for Henrico County. Woodard, a retired Air Force veteran, earned a BSPS in Information Security and received the McDonald Davis Jr. Book Award with the highest GPA in the Information Systems program.

  • Nicole Arnold, GC'18, named assistant principal at Powhatan High School

    Nicole Arnold, GC’18, has been named assistant principal at Powhatan High School in Powhatan County Public Schools. Arnold earned a Graduate Certificate in Educational Leadership & Policy Studies through SPCS.

  • Beverley Steele, GC'18, named assistant principal at Freeman High School

    Beverley Steele, GC’18, has been named assistant principal at Douglas S. Freeman High School in Henrico County Public Schools. Steele earned a Graduate Certificate in Educational Leadership & Policy Studies through SPCS, and earned the Catherine S. Fisher Book Award for Excellence in Educational Leadership & Policy Studies in May 2019.

  • Charlie Goad, GC'16, named associate principal at Longdale Elementary School

    Charlie Goad, GC’16, has been named associate principal at Longdale Elementary School in Henrico County Public Schools. Goad earned a Graduate Certificate in Educational Leadership & Policy Studies through SPCS.

  • Chaz Barracks, '11, GC'16, named CFD Dissertation Fellow in at UR

    Chaz Barracks, ’11, GC’16, has been named CFD Dissertation Fellow in Rhetoric & Communication at UR for the 2019-20 academic year. The Consortium for Faculty Diversity supports doctoral students in completing dissertations through the Dissertation Fellowship. Barracks is earning a Ph.D. in VCU’s Media Art & Text interdisciplinary program.

  • Valerie Mooney, GC'18, named resource teacher at Harvie Elementary School

    Valerie Mooney, GC’18, has been named a resource teacher at Harvie Elementary School in Henrico County Public Schools. Mooney earned a Graduate Certificate in Educational Leadership & Policy Studies through SPCS.

  • Grace Davis, GC'17, named mission impact & stewardship officer

    Grace Davis, GC’17, has been named Mission Impact and Stewardship Officer in the Richmond office of World Pediatric Project. Davis earned a Master of Nonprofit Studies (MNS) degree through SPCS. World Pediatric Project is a nonprofit organization with a mission to heal critically ill children and build healthcare capacity in the world.

Student Notes

SPCS Alumni Directory Now Available!

UR Alumni Services has collaborated with the SPCS Alumni Association to provide an SPCS-specific alumni directory in UROnline. If you have an SPCS undergraduate or graduate degree, you can be included in this listing, making it easier to find SPCS classmates.

To be included, you must have an active account in UR Online. Visit to activate your alumni account. This will also help us stay in touch with you more effectively.

If you prefer not to be included in the SPCS Alumni Directory, please log into to make your listing private OR contact to make your request.

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Special Event Photos

Bring on the Brew Social - Spring 2018

SPCS Alumni Association-sponsored Spring 2018 social event for the SPCS community at Hardywood Park Craft Brewery

Sampling Black History: Evolution of Hip-Hop

Sampling demo and discussion featured hip-hop pioneer Hank Shocklee, SPCS artist-in-residence Donnie “Mad Skillz” Lewis and Richmond Law professor Chris Cotropia.

Dean's Basketball Reception

The Dean’s Basketball Reception features an evening of networking and celebration with the dean and special invited guests, including members of the Dean’s Ambassadors Circle (DAC) and the Alumni Association.

Spring Faculty Meeting & Awards Ceremony

The annual spring faculty meeting includes the School’s annual awards ceremony, where service awards and the SPCS Innovations in Teach Award are given out.

Permaculture Class Presentations

Students in the spring 2018 Permaculture Design Certificate class presented their ideas for redesigning space on campus between the Wilton Interfaith Center and the power plant.

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