July 7, 2014
Dianne Ramdeholl, faculty mentor with SUNY Empire State College’s School for Graduate Studies is the 2014 recipient of the AERC Phyllis Cunningham Social Justice Award. Image supplied by Ramdeholl
(SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – July 10, 2014) Faculty Mentor Dianne Ramdeholl, an assistant professor of adult education with SUNY Empire State College School for Graduate Studies’e Studies’ Master of Arts in Adult Learning program, received the Adult Education Research Conference Phyllis Cunningham Social Justice Award for “Weaving Quilts: Remaking and Reimagining Women’s Spaces and Places in Adult Literacy,” a paper she co-authored and co-presented at AERC with Jaye Jones, director of the Adult Learning Center, Institute for Literacy Studies, Lehman College, The City University of New York.
The AERC Phyllis Cunningham Social Justice Award recognizes one paper each year at the conference on the basis of social justice commitments, the overall quality and academic rigor of the research and an action component.
“I congratulate Dianne Ramdeholl for earning the recognition of peers from across the country,” said Tai Arnold, dean of the college’s School for Graduate Studies. “Dianne’s research has a practical, beneficial component for women who have experienced trauma and I am proud to have her among the faculty. Empire State College educates primarily adults, which means Dianne’s research will inform the college’s community of learners across the state and better enable students to achieve their goals, regardless of the challenges they face.”
Dianne Ramdeholl, at left, and Jaye Jones hold the plaques commemorating their receiving the 2014 AERC Phyllis Cunningham Social Justice Award. The members of the award committee, Lisa Baumgartner, Luis Kong and Doris Flowers, stand to Ramdeholl’s left and Vanessa Sheared stands with Jones. AERC 2014 was held on the Harrisburg campus of Penn State University. Photo © Harrisburg State University.
“Phyllis's commitment to making the world a more just and equitable place was truly remarkable. It is a tremendous honor for me to have received an award in her name,” said Ramdeholl. “However, I feel that this award really belongs to all of the students I have worked with. They have been incredibly inspiring, showing me time and time again that, through working together, groups of ordinary people can accomplish the extraordinary. I want to thank Tai Arnold, my dean, and all of my colleagues at Empire State College for their ongoing support and the members of the AERC award committee for their selection. Finally, the National Louis University faculty have my continuing gratitude for their unwavering commitment to modeling social justice for their students.”
Ramdeholl and Jones received the award Friday, June 6, at the conference, which was hosted this year by the Harrisburg campus of Penn State University.
Jones conducted research of an adult literacy program in Chicago. Ramdeholl conducted her research on Open Book, a long-running, grassroots adult literacy program in Brooklyn, N.Y., founded in 1985 and unique in its use of shared decision-making and practices rooted in education for social change.
“Most adult literacy students in programs happen to be poor women of color and I have always been interested in and committed to finding ways to nurture woman-centered practices in programs among that population,” said Ramdeholl, who also taught at Open Book. “I am interested in co-creating spaces where women can foster a sense of safety and agency in programs and their lives.”
Following on their research Ramdeholl and Jones are developing a study circle guide focusing on the teaching, learning and academic implications for working with adult literacy students who have experienced trauma, both in the individual and collective sense of the word. The guide will be disseminated to adult literacy and community-based organizations and Ramdeholl and Jones will facilitate sessions with groups of practitioners.
Ramdeholl was awarded an Ed.D. in adult, continuing and literacy education by National Louis University. Her dissertation was titled, “It Must Be Told: Stories of Dreams, Hope and Possibility from The Open Book.” Ramdeholl also earned a Master of Science in Adult Education/Adult Literacy Education from Fordham University and a Bachelor of Arts in Writing and Literature from Long Island University.
The Adult Education Research Conference is an annual North American conference that provides a forum for adult education researchers to share their experiences and the results of their studies with students, other researchers, and practitioners from around the world.
Phyllis Cunningham (1927-2012) was a member of the Northern Illinois University faculty from 1976 until 2003.
Cunningham worked to meet the education needs of individuals of all walks of life and was recognized for her commitment to social justice.
She was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from the North American Alliance of Popular and Adult Education and was inducted into the American Association for Adult and Continuing Education Hall of Fame in 1996.
In 2010, she founded the Phyllis Cunningham Social Justice Institute.
Empire State College, the nontraditional, open college of the SUNY system, educates more than 20,000 students worldwide at eight international sites, more than 35 locations in the state of New York, online, as well as face to face and through a blend of both, at the associate, bachelor’s and master’s levels.
The average age of an undergraduate student at the college is 35 and graduate students average age 40.
Most Empire State College students are working adults. Many are raising families and meeting civic commitments in the communities where they live, while studying part time.
In addition to awarding credit for prior college-level learning, the college pairs each undergraduate student with a faculty mentor who supports that student throughout his or her college career.
Working with their mentors, students design an individual degree program and engage in guided independent study and course work onsite, online or through a combination of both, which provides the flexibility for students to choose where, when and how to learn.
Students have the opportunity to enroll five times during the year.
The college’s 70,000 alumni are active in their communities as entrepreneurs, politicians, business professionals, artists, nonprofit agency employees, teachers, veterans and active military, union members and more.
The college was first established in 1971 by the SUNY Board of Trustees with the encouragement of the late Ernest L. Boyer, chancellor of the SUNY system from 1970 to 1977.
Boyer also served as United States commissioner of education during the administration of President Jimmy Carter and then as president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.
More information about the college is available at www.esc.edu.
Media contact: David Henahan, director of communications
518-587-2100, ext. 2918
518-321-7038 (after hours and on weekends)
David M. Henahan, Director of Communications 518-587-2100, ext. 2918 David.Henahan@esc.edu
518-321-7038(after 5 p.m. and weekends)