GSE News

GSE Alumni Association to honor three distinguished alumni

October 19, 2012 - The Penn GSE Education Alumni Association (EAA) is set to honor three of the School’s most accomplished graduates with Alumni Awards during Penn’s Homecoming Weekend this Saturday, October 27. The EAA will honor the outstanding achievements and contributions of Dr. Dawn Elena Pleas-Bailey (’07), Dr. Irving Pressley McPhail (’76), and Dr. Francis M. Hult (’07), three of the School’s most distinguished alumni.

Freshly minted alumni at the 2012 Penn GSE Commencement

Dr. Dawn Elena Pleas-Bailey, V.P. for Student Life and Special Assistant to the President for Community Engagement at Southwestern College, will receive The Ethel and Allen “Buddy” Carruth Sustained Leadership in Education Award. This award, established in 2004, recognizes significant service to the education community and honors the memory of Ethel Carruth (ED’43), a distinguished alumna, benefactor, and friend of Penn GSE. Recipients of this award serve as an inspiration to others, transcending expectations and providing opportunities in service.

Bailey has been a catalyst for change at Southwestern College. After earning her Ed.D. in Higher Education Management from Penn GSE in 2007, she began working to build Southwestern's reputation as a high-quality school, expand partnerships with local middle and high school students, secure grants and funding for new programs, and diversify student enrollment. During Bailey's tenure, enrollment of African American, Latino, and Asian American students has doubled from 10% to 20% and Southwestern has earned a reputation as a high-quality institution that provides academic and social opportunities to low-income students.

Dr. Irving Pressley McPhail, President & CEO of the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering, will receive the Penn GSE Educator of the Year Award. This award recognizes an outstanding alumnus/alumna who demonstrates unusual involvement in and commitment to resolving challenges in education. Recipients of the Penn GSE Educator of the Year Award are dedicated educators who inspire, take risks, use innovative approaches, and serve as role models.

Throughout his career, McPhail has demonstrated commitment to excellence and equity in education for students of color. He earned his Ed.D. in Reading and Language Arts from Penn GSE in 1976. Since then, McPhail has served as both a tenured and visiting professor at several colleges and universities; as President or Chancellor of three academic institutions; and as a teacher, researcher, and advocate of literacy education for African American students. McPhail is widely known by his colleagues as a tireless and fearless educator. He currently serves as the President and CEO of the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering (NACME).

Finally, Dr. Francis M. Hult, Assistant Professor of Applied Linguistics at the University of Texas at San Antonio, will receive the Penn GSE Recent Alumni/Early Career Award of Merit. This award recognizes an alumnus/alumna who has shown outstanding service to Penn GSE prior to his or her 10th reunion year and who is setting an inspirational example for future alumni. Recipients support and embody the mission, values, and goals of the Penn GSE community.

Hult completed his Ph.D. in Educational Linguistics at Penn GSE in 2007. He has since served as an exemplary alumnus of the School and has had a significant influence on the field of educational linguistics despite being early in this career. Shortly after earning his Ph.D., Hult co-edited The Handbook of Educational Linguistics, which is quickly becoming a core text in the field. He also published a widely cited and highly popular article in the International Journal of the Sociology of Language and was selected as the Language Learning Distinguished Scholar-in-Residence at the University of Calgary’s Language Research Centre, a fellowship typically reserved for senior scholars.

The Penn GSE Alumni Awards and Reception will be held during Penn’s Homecoming Weekend on Saturday, October 27, 2012 from 10:00-11:30am at the Inn at Penn, 3600 Sansom Street, Philadelphia, PA.

For a complete list of past EAA Alumni Awards honorees, please click here.

If you would like to support Penn GSE and the annual Alumni Awards, please send a contribution to: University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education, 3700 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104; Attention: Alison Palmer. Please contact Alison Palmer, Assistant Director of the Annual Fund and Alumni Relations, at for more information.


Media Contact: Kat Stein, Exec. Director of Communications,, (215) 898-9642