MURRAY, Ky. — Dr. Stephanie Hendrith, lecturer of early childhood and elementary education in the College of Education and Human Services at Murray State University, was recently selected to receive the Ashland, Inc. Endowed Professorship in Education. Hendrith specializes in teaching elementary science and STEM education.
“This honor has reaffirmed and solidified that I made a great choice in pursuing a career here at Murray State,” Hendrith said. “I genuinely want to make a difference in the Murray community and look forward to fostering long-lasting, positive relationships with the students, teachers and other P-12 partners.”
The Ashland, Inc. Endowed Professorship in Education was established at Murray State in December 1999 with three main goals: (1) to enhance the college’s collaboration with public elementary, middle and high schools within the University’s service region; (2) to further teacher educator preparation; and (3) to assist the college in attracting and retaining African American candidates as part of its teacher preparation program.
“A primary purpose of this endowed professorship is to increase the diversity of the faculty, staff and students within our college,” said Dr. David Whaley, dean of the College of Education and Human Services. “Dr. Hendrith is eager to work with the public school systems as well as with the students of our Minority Educator Recruitment and Retention (MERR) program in this effort.”
Recipients of this honor are nominated by their respective department chairs and are appointed by the college dean to hold the endowed professorship for a term of three years.
“Dr. Hendrith is a positive, proficient professional who is passionate about increasing the diversity of the teaching profession and preparing teacher candidates to be STEM educators,” said Dr. Jacqueline Hansen, chair of the college’s department of early childhood and elementary education.
Recipients of the Ashland, Inc. Endowed Professorship in Education are responsible for participating in the planning and development of programs that will afford teacher education candidates program experiences that demonstrate current best practices at both the University and public school levels. Furthermore, the endowment serves to facilitate University faculty and public school teachers and administrators in exploring collaborative partnerships and relationships to enhance teacher-training quality.
“During my term, I want to focus on building stronger relationships with local schools through science education,” Hendrith said. “I have already visited several classrooms and see some great things going on with very talented educators. I would like to assist our students in exploring those collaborations.”
To fulfill this goal, Hendrith’s plan involves two main aspects: “First, I am looking to establish a STEM Day event, where our pre-service teacher candidates introduce elementary-age students to science and engineering concepts in a fun environment,” Hendrith said. “Secondly, I am hoping to create a mentoring program with the focus of partnering minority students and faculty members of the college together. The purpose of this mentoring initiative is to increase retention of minority students within the College of Education and Human Services, while potentially assisting in recruiting future minority educators.”
“Dr. Hendrith has the highest qualifications, both academic and experiential,” Whaley said. “We anticipate great things to come of this opportunity in terms of addressing the cultural diversity within the college and the strength of local P-12 partnerships.”
The endowed professorship is made possible by Ashland, Inc. and by Kentucky’s Endowment Match Program, which encourages private investment in public higher education. The state-wide program was created in response to the passage of the Kentucky Postsecondary Education Improvement Act of 1997 (House Bill 1) and is intended to establish better jobs and a higher standard of living and to facilitate Kentucky’s transition to a knowledge-based economy. The program matches state funds dollar-for-dollar with private gifts to grow endowments, which are then used to support endowed chairs, professorships, graduate fellowships and the related missions of state institutions of higher education.
“The College of Education and Human Services strives to train and develop the best educators and service providers in the nation, and in order to do that, the best faculty is needed,” said Melanie Brooks, director of development for the college. “These endowed funds help us recruit and retain the best and the brightest at Murray State, thus affording our students the greatest opportunities for success.
Those interested in supporting the work of this or other endowments benefiting the College of Education and Human Services may visit murraystate.edu/giving or call Melanie Brooks at 270-809-3026 for more information.