Two CEHD Faculty Honored for ‘Distinguished Achievement’
Two of our College of Education and Human Development faculty have received the 2022 Association of Former Students Distinguished Achievement Award.
Dr. Kausalai (Kay) Wijekumar of the Department of Teaching, Learning and Culture (TLAC) and Dr. Lei-Shih (Lace) Chen ’07 of the Department of Health and Kinesiology (HLKN) were among 24 faculty and staff to receive this honor.
Dr. Wijekumar is a Professor at TLAC. She is also a Houston Endowed Chair and Chancellor EDGES Fellow and Director of the Center for Urban School Partnerships.
Dr. Wijekumar received the award for her research. She designs, develops and tests intelligent tutoring systems to improve literacy practices with students and teachers. The tutoring systems that she develops and all the supporting materials are available in both English and Spanish. On top of this, she focuses on reading comprehension, writing and teacher professional development.
Dr. Fred Nafukho, CEHD Professor and Senior Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs, nominated Dr. Wijekumar for the award. His letter read in part, “(Dr. Wijekumar’s) commitment to students, teachers, families and administrators in under-resourced urban schools facing challenges due to factors such as high levels of poverty and inadequate family and community support is unparalleled.”
U.S. News and World Report and the What Works Clearinghouse have recognized Dr. Wijekumar for her work. She has also received over $60 million in grant funding from many Federal agencies for her research. She currently serves as Principal Investigator on five U.S. Department of Education grants totaling $17 million in funding.
Dr. Chen is an Associate Professor at HLKN. She serves as a College of Education and Human Development Research Fellow, helping coordinate and lead activities that supported faculty’s research productivity and impact. Colleagues speak of Dr. Chen highly and say that she has a passion to engage students in research and is an excellent educator and mentor.
Dr. Jiling Liu, Clinical Assistant Professor in HLKN, nominated Dr. Chen for this honor. His letter read in part, “Dr. Chen’s excellence in high impact teaching and significant positive impact upon climate, diversity, equality and inclusion are well known and respected throughout the HLKN and CEHD. In the 13 years that Dr. Chen has taught at TAMU, she has become a role model for students and colleagues in both teaching and scholarship.”
Since 1955, the Distinguished Achievement Awards have gone to those who exhibit the highest standards of excellence at Texas A&M. CEHD congratulates Dr. Wijekumar and Dr. Chen on their success.
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