College of Ed welcomes new department chairs

NIU’s College of Education has introduced four new department chairs.

“This is an exciting time in the college, and I am impressed by our new department leaderships’ experience and innovative ideas,” Dean La Vonne I. Neal said. “I am confident that these scholar/administrators will not only continue the excellent work of their predecessors but also carry their departments forward with their own unique expertise and vision. Their ideas and abilities will support our mission of preparing premier educators for the 21st century.”

Suzanne E. Degges-White, chair, Counseling Adult and Higher Education (CAHE)

Suzanne E. Degges-White
Suzanne E. Degges-White

Suzanne E. Degges-White joins the College of Education as the new department chair in CAHE. Degges-White comes to NIU from the University of Mississippi, where she was a program coordinator for Counselor Education and Supervision.

“The CAHE faculty and students are very much invested in working together to build upon an already strong department and I feel fortunate to be working with such a talented group of individuals,” she said. “There is a strong sense of forward momentum throughout the College of Education and I look forward to adding my own positive energy and commitment to its overall advancement.”

Degges-White received a bachelor’s degree in psychology, a master’s degree in counseling, a graduate certificate in women’s studies, and a doctorate in counseling and counselor education, all from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She has 72 publications and presentations, including four books, of which one has been translated into several languages.

In her position as program coordinator, she was responsible for managing the delivery of CACREP-accredited school and mental health counseling programs at three separate campuses and a CACREP-accredited doctoral program in counseling and supervision at UNCG’s main campus.

Her previous career experience also includes working as an associate professor in Counseling and Development at Purdue University Calumet in Hammond, Ind. Degges-White also worked as a licensed mental health counselor and as a counselor for children and adolescents.

Wei-Chen Hung, chair, Educational Technology, Research, and Assessment (ETRA)

Wei-Chen Hung
Wei-Chen Hung

Wei-Chen Hung has been a faculty member in the Department of Educational Technology, Research and Assessment since 2002, which has fully prepared him to lead it.

“As the department chair, I am proud of ETRA and its vital contributions to the overall mission of NIU and the College of Education,” he said. “My goal is to continue working with our faculty and staff to fulfill ETRA’s mission by advancing the development and use of technology, research methodology, and assessment in a variety of settings to enhance teaching, learning, and scholarship.”

Hung said he is excited about the opportunities within ETRA “to further expand the department’s reputation for innovative teaching and learning, and collaborative partnerships to support technology and assessment integration in all NIU education preparation programs.”

Before coming to NIU, Hung worked as an instruction development specialist at the National Association for Families and Addiction Research and Education in Chicago and as director of learning and performance technology for the Children’s Research Triangle, also in Chicago.

He earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in visual and graphic design with an emphasis on computer graphics  and a Master of Science in media technology at the University of Wisconsin-Stout. He earned a doctorate in instructional systems technology with a minor in information science at Indiana University-Bloomington.

Patrick A. Roberts, chair, Leadership, Educational Psychology and Foundations (LEPF)

Patrick Roberts
Patrick Roberts

Patrick A. Roberts comes to NIU from National-Louis University in Chicago, where he has worked since 2001 as a professor in the Department of Educational Foundations and Inquiry and as director of the curriculum and social inquiry doctoral program.

Roberts said he was attracted to the LEPF leadership position because of the “quality and strength of the faculty and the programs that they have developed and are providing.” He added that his academic and administrative background has given him a “good perspective on what faculty need in order to do the work that motivates and sustains them. I want to be as supportive of that as I can be.”

Roberts said his experience as a Fulbright scholar at the University of Sarajevo in Bosnia-Herzegovina shaped his academic and civic commitment.

“I explored museum education in post-conflict societies like Bosnia, which had suffered a brutal civil war,” he said. “It reinforced my commitment to the power of institutions to promote democracy and civic pluralism. I try to live out those values as a leader.”

Prior to that, he worked as an education director at the Museum of Broadcast Communications in Chicago, as a research assistant at the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Center for Urban Economic Development, as an English teacher at St. Augustine College in Chicago, and as a substitute teacher in Chicago Public Schools.

Roberts earned a doctorate in curriculum and instruction and master’s in English from the University of Illinois at Chicago. He received his bachelor’s degree in government and politics from the University of Maryland.

Barbara Schwartz-Bechet, chair, Special and Early Education (SEED)

Barbara Schwartz-Bechet
Barbara Schwartz-Bechet

Barbara Schwartz-Bechet joins the Department of Special and Early Education from the University of Maryland University College (UMUC) in Adelphi, Md. While at UMUC, she served as a professor and as program director of certification programs. She was responsible for managing and developing the online Master of Arts in Teaching–Secondary Education program.

Schwartz-Bechet said her specialized professional and academic experiences align well with priorities of SEED, as well as changes the college leadership and faculty are currently implementing.

“This group of faculty is extremely collegial and works together to move things forward,” she said. “I feel that there is quite a lot to do, and with President Obama’s initiatives for early childhood education, there is a lot that we can do together. I see this faculty as a group that can accomplish these goals and become national leaders.”

In addition to her work at University of Maryland University College, Schwartz-Bechet also brings a wealth of professional experience, including experience as a coordinator of an early childhood special education program, as principal of a middle and high school academy, as a preschool director, as an educational evaluator and as a special and elementary education teacher.

She received her Doctor of Education degree with a specialization in emotional disturbance and applied behavior analysis from Columbia University. She received a Master of Science in Education degree with a specialization in special education from the College of Staten Island, and a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Brooklyn College.

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