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Nancy C. Jordan, professor in UD’s School of Education, will become the first faculty member appointed to the Dean Family Endowed Professorship for Teacher Education.

New endowed professorship

Photo illustration by Jeffrey C. Chase

Renowned scholar Nancy C. Jordan appointed to Dean Family Endowed Professorship for Teacher Education

Nancy C. Jordan, a renowned expert on how young children learn and retain mathematical knowledge, has become the first faculty member appointed to the Dean Family Endowed Professorship for Teacher Education in the University of Delaware’s School of Education, UD President Dennis Assanis and Provost Robin Morgan have announced.

The Dean Family Endowed Professorship for Teacher Education in the College of Education and Human Development (CEHD) was established through a charitable trust created for the purpose of attracting and retaining an outstanding educator and scholar.

“Accomplished faculty members like Dr. Jordan are the beating heart of this University,” Assanis said. "Establishing endowed named professorships is a priority for our Delaware First campaign in our quest to sustain and build academic excellence, while at the same time honoring the donors and our exemplary faculty members. As an institution, we are deeply grateful to the Dean family and our other generous donors who are enabling us to recognize our most outstanding faculty."

Morgan cited Jordan’s impact, saying, “Dr. Jordan’s distinguished record of scholarship, dedication to the profession of teaching and commitment to her students make her the ideal candidate for this honor. It is a pleasure to welcome her to the select group of named professors on our campus.”

The College of Education and Human Development’s School of Education is nationally recognized as an authoritative source of best practices in the academic and social development of students and the professional development of educators.

In nominating Jordan for this honor, Roberta M. Golinkoff, the Unidel H. Rodney Sharp Professor of Education at UD, wrote, “Dr. Jordan is an internationally-recognized, impactful scholar and teacher who has created a large body of usable knowledge – one that is addressing a critical societal problem. There is no question that Nancy Jordan is deserving of the Dean Family Endowed Professorship.”

World-renowned researcher

The scope of Jordan’s accomplishments is staggering. Her research has been published in virtually every high-profile academic journal in the fields of education and learning. It’s not unusual for her to publish four or five articles in a single calendar year. It is estimated that her scholarship has been cited over 9,000 times.

She’s been awarded more million-dollar grants since 2003 than most researchers achieve in a lifetime. Her highly-influential project, “Improving Understanding of Fractions among Students with Mathematical Learning Difficulties,” was funded by the U. S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences (IES) to the tune of $9.9 million. In total, Jordan’s research has attracted nearly $17 million in external grant funding.

Jordan’s research is foundational in every sense of the word. Not only because her publications are required reading in schools of education worldwide, but also because her research has enhanced our understanding of how elementary-age students learn and retain mathematical knowledge. Jordan’s research, conducted in partnership with colleagues at UD and various other universities, established correlations of mathematical proficiency in young children, demonstrating that a child’s competency in kindergarten predicts achievement through at least third grade. Her research also revealed that kindergartners from low-income families are much more likely to follow a low performance, flat growth learning path in math than are middle-income kindergartners.

This research project culminated in Numbers Sense Interventions, a widely-used curriculum for teachers to help at-risk students.

“Jordan is a true teacher-scholar, rigorously attuned not only to academic research but also the ways in which that research translates into classroom instruction,” said Chrystalla Mouza, director of UD’s School of Education and Distinguished Professor of Teacher Education. “It’s one thing to show that problems exist. It’s something else entirely to develop curriculum for teachers to help their students overcome learning challenges. This is what makes Jordan a truly masterful scholar.”

Teacher and mentor

Since joining the university in 1995, Jordan has mentored countless students and postdoctoral fellows who are now successful scholars at universities and research institutions across the nation, including the University of Southern California, Pennsylvania State University, the University of the Sciences and Pace University. She has served on numerous undergraduate and graduate thesis committees and regularly funds students in learning sciences, school psychology and the elementary teacher education program on her grants.

Moreover, as a mentor, Jordan provides guidance and the professional development they need to be successful in their careers. She generously includes her students and fellows on her publications and presentations and provides them opportunities assume leadership roles.

“The guidance Dr. Jordan provides for her students is truly above and beyond what is expected of a doctoral advisor,” said Jessica Rodrigues, who earned her doctorate in education from UD in 2017. Jordan served as Rodrigues’ doctoral advisor and dissertation chair.

Now a postdoctoral research scholar at the USC, Rodrigues said, “Even in my current position, she continues to take time out of her busy schedule to offer me invaluable career advice and to support my research goals. I will always consider myself one of Dr. Jordan’s students.”

Jordan was the graduate advisor for Brenna Hassinger-Das, now an assistant professor of psychology at Pace University. In 2013, Hassinger-Das graduated with a doctorate in education with a specialization in learning sciences.

“An important aspect of Nancy’s interactions with students is her ability to provide just the right amount of structure while still allowing students to have a sense of independence,” Hassinger-Das said. “I found her approach to be so helpful as I went on to pursue a postdoctoral fellowship and now as an assistant professor. I have the skills I need to be successful, thanks in large part to her mentorship.”

But even beyond the rigors of the classroom, Jordan’s influence extends to the example she sets as an instructor and mentor.

“When working with Nancy as a doctoral student, I appreciated how available and responsive she was,” said Nicole Hansen, assistant professor at the Peter Sammartino School of Education at Fairleigh Dickinson University. “She promotes a sense of community - not competition - in her lab and encourages collaboration. The personal and professional relationships I formed during my time in Nancy's lab were invaluable as I transitioned into my current position.”

About named professorships

Each of UD’s seven colleges and the University Libraries have named professorships in recognition of the broad and outstanding achievements of distinguished faculty.

Increasing the number of these endowed professorships is a priority of Delaware First: The Campaign for the University of Delaware. Endowed professorships and other faculty support, including professional development opportunities and research funding, are powerful recruitment tools for attracting established thought leaders and rising talent who will propel the University forward.

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