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Faculty Spotlight


FS_Barrio Minton_03.28.16

Counselor Education

Casey A. Barrio Minton joined the University of Tennessee and the Department of Educational Psychology and Counseling as an associate professor for Counselor Education in August of 2015. We asked her to reflect on her first semester here. Read her responses below.

What sold you on UT?
I had the opportunity to serve on professional boards with several counselor education faculty members and students over the years, so I already knew a bit about the program and program values.  When preparing for my campus visit, I found myself intrigued with just how well the counselor education program seemed to fit with my professional values.  Finally, when visiting campus, I found myself both impressed with faculty accomplishments and at home with faculty, staff, and students.  It just felt right.

What do you think was most rewarding or challenging about being a new faculty member?
I have been a faculty member before, so I am quite used to roles and responsibilities.  Although learning new people, places, and procedures takes time and energy, doing so also opens the door for new opportunities.  I have very much enjoyed developing relationships with colleagues and students, discovering mutual interests, and finding ways to grow together.

What has been your most memorable experience this semester?
I am serving as co-faculty advisor for our program’s chapter of Chi Sigma Iota, the honor society for professional counselors.  Recently, we had an opportunity to induct new members into the society.  Our initiates brought friends and family to celebrate, all faculty members attended, and we had a chance to just be together while sharing in the occasion.

What’s your favorite activity outside of work.
I have a toddler, and we love exploring new places together.  She loved exploring the mountains in the fall — and I can’t wait to help her discover waterfalls this spring.


FS_Howard_02.25.16

Instructional Technology

Craig D. Howard joined the University of Tennessee and the Department of Educational Psychology and Counseling as an assistant professor for Instructional Technology in August of 2015. We asked him to reflect on his first semester here. Read his responses below.

What sold you on UT?
I was already familiar with a number of EPC faculty members’ research from reading, and I already knew about the synchronous online approach— so I jumped on the chance to apply. I was excited when my value system revolving around online learning matched so well with faculty here. I was sold before I got to the airport to head home.

What do you think was most rewarding or challenging about being a new faculty member?
Every new place takes a while to learn. I kind of expected that, but what I did not expect was such a warm welcome from students and colleagues. I have made an effort to be on campus as much as possible this past year and I think that has paid off in a good rapport with the people I have met so far.

What has been your most memorable experience this semester?
The sense of community in the online classes among students would be the most memorable set of events, for sure.

Name one fact about yourself that most people don’t know.
I have an uncanny ability to get myself food poisoned. I have lost count on how many times so far; my strategy of selecting the most unusual item on the menu has proven adventurous but also sometimes debilitating.


FS_Diambra_12.09.16

Associate Department Head &
Director of Graduate Studies

Joel F. Diambra joined the University of Tennessee in 1999 in the Counseling, Deafness, and Human Services Department. Diambra has been part of the Department of Educational Psychology and Counseling since 2003. He currently serves as associate department head and director of graduate studies in EPC and is an associate professor in the Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Counselor Education, and School Counseling programs. We asked him to reflect on his experiences. Read his responses below.

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What are some different roles you’ve served at UT and/or within EPC?
At UT, I was an assistant professor and now associate professor. I currently serve as a member of the Graduate School Student Diversity Enhancement Committee. I’ve also served on the Faculty Senate and Athletic Committee for a 3-year term. I’ve enjoyed being a Ronald McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program Mentor for a number of years, Office of Disability Services Admissions Appeals Committee member, visited incoming freshmen via House Calls, facilitated Life of the Mind to incoming freshmen, and teach two ongoing FYS 129 courses.

Within EPC I’ve served as a Human Services Field Experience Coordinator, Peer Mentoring Coordinator, School and Clinical Mental Health Program Committee Faculty Member, Counselor Education PhD Program Coordinator, and most recently Associate Department Head and Director of Graduate Studies. I have served as committee member and currently serve as a search chair for a faculty position search.

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What are a few of your most recent accomplishments?
I recently won a state award and had three very recent efforts that led to students presenting and publishing for the first time.

  1. In November 2015, the Tennessee Association for Counselor Education and Supervision Chapter honored me with the Charles Thompson Counselor Educator of the Year Award.
  2. Brittany Pollard, Rose Gamble, Bre Banks and I just had Teaching a Human Sexuality Course: What are Students Thinking? accepted for publication in the American Journal of Sexuality Education.
  3. Eric Heidel, John Breckner, Jeannine Studer and I just received notification that Psychometric Properties of the School Counselor National Model® Activity Scale (SCNMAS) will be published in the upcoming Tennessee Counseling Association Journal.
  4. In December 2015, Brooke Bagley (CMHC alumnus and current clinical supervisee) and I had our ACA presentation and subsequent manuscript focused on her work as a Sexual Assault Crisis Counselor accepted for publication in Counseling Today. I believe this is Brooke’s first publication. She was also accepted to present a workshop on this topic at the Tennessee Counseling Association and Smoky Mountain Counseling Association.
  5. I have been providing supervision to 3 current doctoral students with a focus on diversity/multiculturalism: Jennifer Moralejo, Derrick Shepard, and Nathan West. With their leadership, we submitted a newsletter manuscript outlining our efforts and it was accepted for publication in the Southern Association for Counselor Education and Supervision (SACES) Newsletter. We also submitted proposals regarding our efforts to conduct a Tennessee Counseling Association workshop and American Counseling Association poster session, coming spring 2016 in Montreal, Canada. Both were accepted. I find great satisfaction in assisting current and former students achieve accomplishments for the first time.

In an attempt to help others first coming to UT, complete the following statement: If I knew then what I know now about UT, I would…

  1. Buy a bicycle or hover board as my work transportation. You can park a whole lot easier and closer without a car.
  2. Start boasting about UT sports. Over time, I’ve been amazed at a how well UT does nationally in various athletic venues: women’s basketball, women’s softball, track and field, swimming/diving, tennis, men’s basketball, and men’s football. “It’s great… to be… a Tennessee Vol.”

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What do you think you would be doing if you weren’t in academia?
I can think of three things I’d likely be doing:

  1. Buying low and selling high. 🙂 One of my hobbies is purchasing cars and motorcycles (and just about anything if the price is right), repairing them, enjoying them for a period of time and selling them for a profit.
  2. I would likely be building a counseling practice too. Before entering academia, I had already established my own private practice and considered expanding the practice to include a host of other therapists to provide comprehensive therapeutic services.
  3. I would likely be living overseas or traveling/living for long stretches of time in foreign lands. I back packed around the world for one year when I was 23 and could easily see myself moving to, settling-in, and working in different countries for about 1-3 year stints.

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What sold you on UT?
The faculty. When I interviewed I was impressed with the faculty. They were bright, energetic, warm, genuine, challenging, and supportive. I had applied for a position in Australia and was one of three finalists. Australia was my 1st choice; however, I ended up being their 2nd choice. I remember being so disappointed until I received an amazing follow-up email after my interview from Sky Huck. I cried when I read his email, realizing UT Knoxville was really the right place for me. I still have that email.

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What do you think has been the most rewarding about your work in EPC?
In my role as a professor, it is most rewarding to assist students in achieving new accomplishments (e.g., presenting or publishing). As an administrator, realizing overall just how amazing and strong (i.e., students, staff, and faculty) we are as a department!

Diambra with three students.

Name one fact about yourself that most people don’t know.
I lived in Brazil as a child, married in Japan during my world-wide backpacking trip, and minored in Japanese and Southeast Asian Studies. Okay, that’s 3 facts. I’m also very good at not following directions. Oops, 4 facts.

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FS_Brockett_06.03.15

Interim Department Head

Ralph G. Brockett joined the University of Tennessee in 1988 and has been part of the Department of Educational Psychology and Counseling since 1994. He currently serves as interim department head of EPC and is a professor in the Adult Learning and Adult Education programs. We asked him to reflect on his experiences. Read his responses below.

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What are some different roles you’ve served at UT and/or within EPC?
I became Interim Department Head in August, 2014. Before that, I served as Coordinator of the Adult Education/Adult Learning programs since 1993, except for one year. Over the years, I have been active in a number of roles including Chair of the Graduate Council (2012-2013).

What are a few of your most recent accomplishments?
Among my more recent accomplishments is the publication of my book, Teaching Adults: A Practical Guide for New Teachers (Jossey-Bass, 2015), which was released in January. I was also co-recipient of the 2012 Imogene Okes Award for Research in Adult Education (with one of my former doctoral students). I am also a founding Board Member of the International Society for Self-Directed Learning.

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In an attempt to help others first coming to UT, complete the following statement: If I knew then what I know now about UT, I would…
say that I have found my time at UT to be mostly rewarding. I was very excited to have the opportunity to come here in 1988 and continue to believe it has been a good place to have spent the majority of my career. For new faculty coming into EPC, I would say that this is an exciting time and they have a great opportunity to help shape the long-term future of the department.

What do you think you would be doing if you weren’t in academia?
I always wanted to be a writer. Growing up, I wanted to go into journalism. As an adult, I would have liked to write non-fiction on a wide range of topics. Fortunately, in my life in academia, I have had the opportunity to do quite a bit of writing, including 10 books.

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What have you most liked about EPC?
EPC is a strong department with many excellent programs, a productive faculty, and outstanding graduate students. We are undergoing substantial transition at this time due to numerous faculty retirements and changing leadership in the department. However, this transition provides an opportunity to create a vision and direction for the department for years to come. We have been fortunate to be able to hire several outstanding new colleagues. I believe the department is positioned to move forward and continue to be a productive, successful member of the College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences for years to come.

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What has been your most memorable experience this year?
For me, this has been a truly memorable year. As first-year Interim Head, I have had much to learn and have faced many challenges. But I have been pleased to be in a position to do things that support the work of our faculty, staff, and students. Throughout my career, I have benefited from the support of others in leadership and mentoring roles. My hope is that I can pay this forward by helping make it possible for members of our department to thrive in the work they do.

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Name one fact about yourself that most people don’t know.
Some people know that one of my main outside interests is history of the U.S. Presidents. I like to read and study the presidents and travel to presidential homes, libraries, and other historical sites. What most people don’t know is that I have visited the grave sites of all but two of the presidents and I hope to get to these in the near future.

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FS_McCurdy_02.13.15

School Psychology

Merilee McCurdy joined the University of Tennessee and the Department of Educational Psychology and Counseling as Associate Professor and Program Coordinator for School Psychology in August of 2014. We asked her to reflect on her first semester here. Read her responses below.

What sold you on UTK?
I am originally from Mississippi and wanted to get back to the warm South. Fourteen years of Nebraska winters were getting to me! Once I made the decision to move closer to home, it was easy to decide on Tennessee. The School Psychology program is very strong and my colleagues are well respected in the field. In addition to a warmer climate and supportive colleagues, I am much closer to my parents in Mississippi and my brother and sister in law in North Carolina. The University of Tennessee has been a perfect fit for me, both professionally and personally.

What would you tell the next new faculty member who joins EPC?
I was hired along with 4 other fantastic ladies and it has been nice to learn about UT together. I would tell a new faculty member to take advantage of the networking opportunities provided by the university. UT administration has hosted a Faculty Mic Nite, a Faculty Pub happy hour, and many other on campus professional meetings. Use these opportunities to meet faculty within your department and college but also across the University. Who knows? You might meet your next research colleague!

What has surprised you about the state of Tennessee?
I’m not used to having beautiful mountain views. Seriously, East Tennessee is gorgeous! I never had the chance to spend much time in Tennessee and when I interviewed, it was winter. Like most places, winter is not the best time to get a sense of a new place. This summer when I moved to Knoxville, the city was vibrant with lots of downtown activity. The outdoor activities, especially hiking, are numerous and varied. I wasn’t aware that Knoxville has so many festivals! Here’s a link to prove it: http://www.cityofknoxville.org/newcomers/festivals.asp. There is always something new and fun to experience in Knoxville.

What’s your favorite activity outside of work?
I’m an avid reader and always have at least two books going at the same time. If you want to start a book club, just let me know! Right now, I’m reading Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, which was loaned to me by a new colleague. I’m just getting started but it’s really good! Also, I love being near water. If I’m not near the beach, the lakes will do just fine. The Knoxville area has many beautiful lakes. I can’t wait to visit them all.

Educational Psychology & Counseling Department
College of Education, Health & Human Sciences

535 Bailey Education Complex
1122 Volunteer Boulevard
Knoxville, TN 37996-3452
Phone: 865-974-8145 Fax: 865-974-0135