May 1, 2012

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The College of Education and Health Professions is honoring three alumni – Joshua Barnett, Kieran Fogarty and Marjorie Marugg-Wolfe – for their exceptional professional and personal achievements and extraordinary distinction in their fields.

Barnett won the Outstanding Young Alumni Award. He teaches in the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at Arizona State University. Fogarty won the Outstanding Alumni Award in Health and Human Services. He teaches in the interdisciplinary health sciences doctoral program in the College of Health and Human Services at Western Michigan University. Marugg-Wolfe won the Outstanding Alumni Award in Education. She founded the Single Parent Scholarship Fund of Benton County and helped found the Arkansas Single Parent Scholarship Fund.

Tom Smith, dean of the college, will present the three honorees their awards at the college’s commencement Saturday, May 12, at Bud Walton Arena. They will make remarks at a reception on May 11.

“These three individuals represent the extraordinary range and depth of influence that our graduates have on people everywhere,” Smith said. “We are very proud of them and glad to have this opportunity to showcase our college’s impact through their work.”

Joshua Barnett, earned a Doctor of Philosophy in public policy in 2007. He was awarded a Distinguished Doctoral Fellowship from the department of education reform and served as a senior graduate research assistant in the department.

Barnett credited faculty and fellow students for his success.

“The young alumni award is a clear reminder that my work is not done by me alone, but I have been greatly built up by a group of unparalleled faculty,” he said. “I was also extremely fortunate to have a group of high-caliber peers in my program, who challenged and supported me. I am humbled by the opportunity to be the first recipient, and I hope that I can build upon a career that is recognized for making a positive difference in the world.”

Since becoming an assistant professor of education policy and evaluation at Arizona State, Barnett has researched educator compensation reform and issues surrounding equity and adequacy, including school finance, teacher quality and comprehensive reform strategies.

He has worked to improve teacher quality and student achievement in Arkansas, Arizona, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, as well as internationally in New Zealand. His work has been published in leading journals, including Review of Educational Research, Teachers College Record and Educational Leadership.

Barnett said he regularly speaks to faculty members in the College of Education and Health Professions, particularly Gary Ritter and George Denny, who offer guidance regarding opportunities he has received.

“The faculty in the department of education reform and others across the college are not only advisers and mentors, but they epitomize what a faculty member is – a lifelong mentor, colleague and friend,” Barnett said. “I’m not sure they knew they were making such a commitment when they accepted me into their program, but I am constantly grateful for their mentorship and encouragement.”

Barnett, who grew up in Cabot, also credited his parents with providing the love, support and guidance he needed to succeed.

“They also gave me the confidence to apply for a Ph.D. at the University of Arkansas, where I was introduced to a Razorback family that is globally connected,” Barnett said. “My time at the university is filled with fond memories and deep respect for the efforts of those who go far beyond the classroom walls and reach out to change the world through the students they instruct and the communities in which they work.”

Kieran Fogarty, an associate professor at Western Michigan, earned a Doctor of Philosophy in health science from the University of Arkansas in 1997. He founded Western Michigan’s doctoral program in interdisciplinary health. He is a Faculty Fellow at the Lewis Walker Institute of the Study of Race and Ethnic Studies and is also the acting director of assessment and evaluation with the International Food Protection Training Institute in Battle Creek, Mich.

Before he joined the faculty at Western Michigan, Fogarty served as epidemic intelligence service officer in the National Immunization Program office with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He credited an assistantship he held at the Area Health Education Center in Fayetteville with helping him gain experience that elevated him when he sought a position with the CDC. While with the CDC, he also served as senior epidemiologist with the National Center for HIV, STD and TB Prevention and was assigned to the World Health Organization as a scientific officer with the polio eradication team in Bangladesh.

“My doctoral assistantship was huge,” Fogarty recalled. “It put me in a different arena later in life. The public health project in the Delta that I was involved in separated me in the application process with the CDC. Being from Chicago, I think having experience at a southern university jump-started my career. Jumping in the car and going to places such as Dewitt and Crossett gave me a whole other level of appreciation for rural health that I never would have gotten if I stayed up north.”

Fogarty said he has maintained relationships with faculty members.

“I call George Denny so often, I’m surprised they don’t charge me tuition,” he said about a professor of educational statistics and research methods in the college who taught him. “Still today, I always double-check with George when I have a complex stats question. People here think of ‘George’ as software.

“I’m very appreciative of this award,” Fogarty continued. “It represents what the University of Arkansas produces. I consider this award not only for me but also for the faculty there and my fellow doctoral students.”

Marjorie Marugg-Wolfe, a 2002 recipient of the President’s Community Volunteer Award from George W. Bush, has devoted nearly 40 years to helping first “displaced homemakers” and later single parents gain the skills and confidence they need to be successful in the workplace. A lifelong learner herself, her formal education includes a bachelor’s degree in 1957, an educational specialist degree in 1982 and an educational doctorate in 1993, all from the University of Arkansas. She also earned a master’s degree from the University of Maryland.

The organizations that Marugg-Wolfe helped found have awarded nearly 30,000 scholarships valued at more than $16 million to single mothers and fathers who have sought to better their lives and the lives of their children through higher education. She serves as chair of ASPIRE, which stands for “assisting single parents in realizing education,” a national organization formed in 2009 to replicate the proven, successful Arkansas program in other states. Already, affiliates have been formed in Missouri, Oklahoma, Georgia, Mississippi and California, and another University of Arkansas alumnus and early beneficiary of the Benton County single-parent scholarship is in the process of organizing the first affiliate in Texas.

Marugg-Wolfe also talked about a mentor who was special to her, Barbara Hinton, professor emeritus of vocational and adult education. After Marugg-Wolfe’s first husband was diagnosed with a brain tumor and died within six months, Hinton gave her time to grieve, then urged her to pick up her doctoral work again.

“She forced me to get back into life,” Marugg-Wolfe said. “She forced me to do something I needed to do. I think I tried to use that same firm but gentle touch with single parents. Dr. Hinton combined firmness and caring, and I found that works well with single parents. For some, what they have gone through seems insurmountable.”

Earlier in her life, the university filled a void after she moved back to Arkansas from Maryland. She earned an educational specialist degree at that time.

“I have always found the university to be a very inviting environment, a helping environment,” Marugg-Wolfe said. “I’ve also tried to build a support system for students through the single-parent scholarship program. If someone catches these students when they are about to fall, then they will go on.”

That “catching” often involved more than academic support. Because she had widespread community support and a dedicated volunteer board of directors, Marugg-Wolfe was often able to provide for students donated services such as vehicle repair, medical care and child care.

“At this age, I wonder sometimes why on earth I’m doing this,” she said. “It’s very good for me. I need to keep my mind busy. It has been a joy.”

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