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ETAP faculty news: Retirement of department head and others

  |   Kristen B. Morales   |   Permalink   |   Spotlight

The Department of Educational Theory and Practice will say farewell to several of its members at the end of the spring semester. Distinguished Research Professor and Department Head Ronald Butchart will be retiring in May, along with his wife and part-time supervisor for student teachers, Amy Rolleri. Also, Associate Professor and Associate Department Head Betty Bisplinghoff will be leaving the department after 21 years of service to UGA.

Ronald Butchart and Amy Rolleri

Ronald Butchart, distinguished research professor and Educational Theory and Practice department head, will be retiring in May, after 16 years of service to the University of Georgia.

Prior to coming to UGA, Butchart taught at the University of Washington and the State University of New York-Cortland. Nationally and internationally recognized, Butchart developed a stellar record of teaching and research in the history of African-American education during the 19th century. He has produced numerous publications throughout his career and has become a star among the nation's history of education profession; his work serves as one of the guiding frameworks for scholars in his field.

One of his most acclaimed publications includes his Schooling the Freed People: Teaching, Learning, and the Struggle for Black Freedom, 1861-1876. Considered a result of "path-breaking research," this research is considered to be "the most comprehensive quantitative study of the origins of black education in freedom ever undertaken." As "an outstanding contribution to social history and our understanding of African American education," Butchart's work has won him the History of Education Society's 2011 Outstanding Book Award, the University of Georgia Research Foundation's 2012 William A. Owens Award, as well as the 2011 Avery O. Craven Award given by the Organization of American Historians.

Considered "a leading authority on the history of African-American education," Butchart attracts numerous graduate students to the university and the Department of Educational Theory and Practice. It is common to hear graduate students who have taken one of his courses to conclude that Butchart's course was, "the best course I've ever taken."

Butchart's popularity transcends the College of Education: he also served as affiliate faculty in UGA's Department of History, the African-American Studies Institute, and the Qualitative Research Program. He is admired by administers, colleagues, and students alike. Very few have been able to rival the energy Butchart puts into his teaching, scholarship, and administrative leadership.

With the retirement of Butchart also comes the retirement of his wife, Amy Rolleri. Her presence in the College will be truly missed. Rolleri has served as a part-time supervisor for the department's student teachers. Her expertise and collegiality has been unmatched, and she has truly lifted department faculty's (and students') spirits. With incredible energy, creativity, and intellect, Rolleri has been a key partner in the work of the department and the College. While department faculty and staff are sad, they are also happy for both in their upcoming retirement. They have been an important presence in the College and university, and they will be missed.

Butchart and his spouse, Amy Rolleri, received numerous letters from colleagues in the department, as well as faculty and friends throughout the nation and the international community, wishing them the very best in their retirement. All letters were memorialized in an album and presented to Butchard and Rolleri.

Betty Bisplinghoff

Associate Professor and Associate Department Head Betty Bisplinghoff will be retiring at the end of this semester after 21 years of service to the College of Education.

Bisplinghoff graduated from UGA with a PhD in 2001 and has served the College of Education in a variety of roles. She is also known for her many outstanding contributions to the College and its Early Childhood Education program. She has been a driving force in the creation, development, implementation, instruction in, and ongoing revision of the Early Childhood Certification program. She has served as a member of the national facilitation team of the National School Reform Faculty, including serving as chair of its Documentation and Research Committee and member of its governing council, working with schools throughout the United States to prepare teacher leaders.

Bisplinghoff co-directed the Georgia Center for Activity for the National School Reform Faculty, where she led site-based professional development for teachers and administrators in public schools, universities, and regional education service agencies. Bisplinghoff was invited and served on the advisory board for the Induction Project as part of the National Commission on Teaching and America's Future. She has also served on the Teacher Success Model Induction Subcommittee for the Georgia Department of Education, and has led professional development work with schools in New Jersey, New York, Alabama, North Carolina, Connecticut. She created reciprocal evidence-based mentoring work within the Georgia Systemic Teacher Education Program.

Fellow faculty members and staff in the Department of Educational Theory and Practice, the College of Education, and the University of Georgia will miss Bisplinghoff, her love of teaching and service, her commitment to creating dynamic learning opportunities for her students, and her ability to challenge students to critically think and explore their schools and communities through reading, poetry, music, and art. She has served as an advocate for positive change in education in her work on behalf of children.

Colleague Martha Allexsaht-Snider recalls Bisplinghoff's commitment to students' deep learning and her intellectual integrity. Another fellow faculty member, JoBeth Allen, agreed that Bisplinghoff's presence will be missed.

"She is one of the finest, most creative, and most dedicated teachers and teacher educators I have ever known," she said.

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