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Awards and Honors

(October 2002)

A team from UC Riverside won the "Willard Waller Award" for the best article in education over the past three years. The honor, the highest given by the Sociology of Education section of the American Sociological Association, recognized an article called "Socialization Messages in Primary Schools: An Organizational Analysis," by Steven G. Brint, professor of sociology, and two of his graduate students, Mary F. Contreras and Michael T. Matthews. Published in July of 2001, the study used interviews and observations in 64 classrooms at 10 elementary schools to find out how values are conveyed to students. The team found that both face-to-face instruction and the curriculum mixed such traditional virtues as responsibility, honesty and fairness, with modern values such as cultural diversity, variety and choice.

Three faculty members of the Graduate School of Education have been involved in shaping the national agenda regarding special education and mental retardation policy.

Jan Blacher was one of 15 members of the Committee on Disability Determination for the National Research Council of the National Academies of Science. The committee helped the Social Security Administration write its guidelines for determining who would be considered mentally retarded and entitled to benefits through its report issued in the summer. The primary objective was to advise the Social Security Administration on how to improve its disability determination in ways that are consistent with the best current science and community practices.

Distinguished professors Frank Gresham and Donald MacMillan testified before the President's Commission on Excellence in Special Education during the spring. The commission will advise President Bush on reauthorizing the 25-year-old Individuals with Disabilities Education Act next year. Gresham testified on the weaknesses in the way the state and the federal governments classify students as learning disabled, mildly retarded or emotionally disturbed; and on schools' failures to follow those guidelines.

MacMillan testified about the differences between how researchers and the K-12 schools classify special education students, which leads to researchers studying different groups of children than those taught as special education students. He also focused on the problems with coordinating research between the federal Department of Education and the National Institutes of Health.

Governor Davis named the Community Digital Initiative (CDI) a winner of California's 2002 Technology and Innovation Award.

A computer lab and classroom serving young people at the Cesar Chavez Community Center in Riverside, CDI is now listed in the Compendium of Best Practices, a state document that highlights exemplary organizations and individuals that help foster California's tech-based economy.

"The awards are given for contributions that help foster the fundamentals needed to grow and maintain a tech-based economy," said Lon S. Hatamiya, Secretary of California's Technology, Trade and Commerce Agency.

"We are very pleased with the award because its shows that the Governor recognizes CDI's goal to provide innovative opportunities to youth who are preparing for higher education and better jobs," said Richard ChabrŠn, the director of the facility.

Bethany Alvarez, a North High School graduate whose words are on the CDI Web site,, said the lab made a difference.

"CDI has opened the gates of technology for my family that otherwise would have been difficult to access," she wrote. “I know, with my education and increasing knowledge in this new technology, I will be in a position of helping my parents and my community in the years to come. Gracias to CDI. I hope it is here to stay to help others who need it."

Since its founding in 1996, CDI has been supported by The California Wellness Foundation; Pathways to the Future: Youth as Multimedia Producers; the Workforce Investment Act; Right From The Start (San Bernardino County); Charter Communications; the city and the county of Riverside; Pacific Bell; and UC Riverside, where CDI is part of the Ernesto Galarza Applied Research Center.

Susan Straight, professor of creative writing and the author of five novels, served as one of 20 faculty members at the 2002 Bread Loaf Writers' Conference in Vermont in August, one of American's best-known literary institutions. For more than 75 years, writers have come to Middlebury College for workshops, lectures and classes. Agents and editors from major publishing houses gather as well. This year there were more than 200 writers invited as students.

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