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Faculty Spotlight


The Department of Educational Psychology & Counseling is pleased to announce newest faculty member, Patricia Higgins. Dr. Higgins will serve as Clinical Assistant Professor and Program Coordinator for the Master’s in Educational Psychology degree beginning June 1, 2022.

Dr. Higgins joins the department with a twenty-year background in International Education. She most recently served as the International Admissions Specialist for Pellissippi State Community College and as Adjunct Instructor for the University of Tennessee Department of Educational Psychology & Counseling.Graphic that says "Welcome to the Team, Patricia Higgins, PhD" and includes a headshot of Dr. Higgins.

Dr. Higgins earned a PhD in Educational Psychology and a Graduate Certificate in Qualitative Research Methods in Education from the University of Tennessee in 2019. Additionally, she holds certification in English Language Teaching Leadership Management from TESOL and was awarded the Friends of Educational Psychology & Counseling Research Grant in 2019.

Upon the distinguished retirement this summer of current Ed Psych Online Co-Coordinator, Dr. Cathy Hammon, Dr. Higgins will assume the role of Ed Psych Online Co-Coordinator.

Dr. Higgins is passionate about applying her extensive experience and research to the EdPsych Online graduate program at the University of Tennessee.

Dr. Higgins lives in East Tennessee with her partner, Matthew, and fur-kids. She enjoys gardening for pollinators, watching classic films, and soaking in the beautiful East Tennessee outdoors.

The Department of Educational Psychology & Counseling is honored to gain Dr. Patricia Higgins on its team.

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The Department of Educational Psychology & Counseling is pleased to welcome newest faculty member, Hyunhee Kim.

Kim joins the department as an Assistant Professor, and will teach courses in School Counseling, Clinical Mental Health Counseling, and Counselor Education beginning in fall 2022. Profile photo of Hyunhee Kim, PhD, newest faculty member of the Department of Educational Psychology & Counseling

Kim earned a dual major BA in Education & Ethics Education from Seoul National University, Seoul, South Korea in 2003, as well as a Master’s in Educational Counseling from Seoul National University in 2008. A PhD in Counselor Education will be awarded from The Pennsylvania State University (CACREP-accredited) in 2022.

Kim holds additional certifications as a Professional Counselor from The Korea Counseling Association, and School Counseling and Teaching Certificates from the Pennsylvania Department of Education and the Korean Ministry of Education. She was named the 2018 “Emerging Leader” by the NARACES, and received the “Exemplary Doctoral Research & Practice Award” from the AARC in 2020.

Hyunhee’s research primarily focuses on the role of relationships in educational settings. “I am particularly interested in developmental assets and protective factors that help students thrive, regardless of the adversities they may encounter.”

Hyunhee credits her upbringing on the beautiful Jeju Island, South Korea, for her deeply instilled values of “peace, collaboration, and adaptability,” which she looks forward to contributing as a Tennessee Volunteer and leader. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking with her family, practicing yoga and meditation, and enjoying music.

The Department of Educational Psychology & Counseling is honored to gain Hyunhee Kim on its team.

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Leia Cain

Educational Psychology & Counseling’s Dr. Leia Cain, Assistant Professor of Evaluation, Statistics & Methodology, discussed some of her research on February 9 in the first virtual lecture of a series hosted by The Commission for LGBT People and the UT Pride Center.

Leia Cain, an Assistant Professor for the Educational Psychology & Counseling PhD Program in Evaluation, Statistics & Measurement, kicked off the UT Pride Center’s latest lecture series on February 9 with a compelling talk entitled, “Spilling the (Sweet) Tea: How Southern U.S. Queer Students Thrive in Icy University Climates.”

Cain holds a PhD from the University of South Carolina. Her current research focuses on “LGBTQ+ Student and Faculty Experiences in Higher Education.”Photo of a mason jar filled with sweet tea and a straw, set on an outdoor table.

Among the topics discussed in the lecture, Cain shared her recent research on the positive and negative experiences of LGBTQ+ students and faculty in Southern culture, and how institutions can be more inclusive.

For more information about this lecture, and to register for upcoming lectures, visit the UT Pride Center in the Student Union, room 373, M-F 8am-5pm.

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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.


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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.