Alumni Notes

May 7, 2020

JUSTIN A. BARTERIAN served as co-editor of “School Psychopharmacology: Translating Research into Practice” (Springer, 2019) with MSU Professor John S. Carlson (see page 29). Barterian, M.A. ’08, Ed.S. ’13 and Ph.D. ’15 (School Psychology), is a clinical assistant professor at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center. 


DAWN BENTLEY was one of two Spartans to receive the Nancy A. Colflesh Distinguished Alumni Award from the MSU Department of Educational Administration in October 2019. The award recognizes those who are excellent practitioners in the area of educational leadership. Bentley, M.A. ’01 (K-12 Educational Administration) and Ed.D. ’15 (Educational Leadership), is the assistant superintendent for diversity, equity and inclusion at the Acton-Boxborough Regional School District in Massachusetts.  


JUDI BROWN CLARKE joined a new task force created by Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to support and promote opportunities for girls and women in sports. Brown Clarke, M.S. ’95 (Physical Education and Exercise Science), will serve as an advisory member to the task force, which is expected to make initial findings and recommendations before March 2021. Other MSU leaders—such as Kinesiology Professor Dan Gould and women’s basketball Coach Suzy Merchant—will also serve as advisory members to the board. Brown Clarke, previously of the BEACON Center at MSU, also became chief diversity officer at Stony Brook University in February 2020. 


WANDA COOK-ROBINSON, superintendent of Oakland Schools in Michigan, received two awards at the AASA School Superintendents Association’s National Conference on Education. Cook-Robinson, B.A. ’76 (Special Education), was recognized at the February 2019 event with the Effie H. Jones Humanitarian Award, which honors individuals who are champions and leaders of minorities and women. In addition, she received the Women in School Leadership Award, celebrating female educators who show exemplary talent, creativity and vision. Cook-Robinson has served as superintendent since 2015. 


ZONGYI DENG, Ph.D. ’97 (Curriculum, Teaching and Educational Policy), was appointed as a professor of curriculum and pedagogy in University College London’s Institute of Education. Deng, who currently serves as an executive editor of the Journal of Curriculum Studies, was previously an associate professor at Nanyang Technological University’s National Institute of Education in Singapore.

GLENN GUALTIERI was honored with the 2018 Outstanding Practicing Principal award by the Michigan Elementary and Middle School Principals Association (MEMSPA). Gualtieri, M.A. ’98 (Educational Administration), is principal at Bailey Lake Elementary School in Clarkston, Mich., a role he’s held since 2006. Gualtieri was also named to the 2019 Class of National Distinguished Principals with the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP), honoring administrators for their commitment to high standards of instruction, student achievement and more. The recognition for the honor was held in October 2019 in Washington, D.C. 


KEVIN GUENTHER was named a district finalist for 2019 Teacher of the Year in the Aldine Independent School District. Guenther, TCRT ’14 (Secondary Education – Mathematics), is an algebra teacher at Aldine Ninth Grade School in Houston, Texas, where he was also named campus Teacher of the Year.

LYNN HENRICKS, M.A. ’92 (College and University Administration), was appointed associate dean of student affairs at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Conn. She was previously director of residential life at Florida International University. 


ANDREW HUGINE, JR. was named Male President of the Year at the HBCU Digest Awards in August 2019. Hugine, Ph.D. ’77 (Higher Education), is president of Alabama A&M University, a position he has held for 10 years. AAMU was also a finalist for Board of Trustees of the Year and National Alumni Association of the Year for the annual awards. 


MARY ANNA (SCENGA) KRUCH, M.A. ’77 (Reading Instruction) and Ph.D. ’91 (Curriculum and Instruction), published her first collection of poems, “We Draw Breath from the Same Sky” (Finishing Line Press), in July 2019. Kruch is a former teacher, having worked at Williamston Middle School, Michigan State University, Grand Valley State University and Northern Michigan University, where she currently is a field supervisor, evaluating and mentoring student teachers. She previously published a textbook: “Tend Your Garden: Nurturing Motivation in Young Adolescent Writers” (Equinox Publishing, 2012), and has been published in literacy magazines.


MATTHEW MAKOMENAW was appointed as an assistant dean of Yale College in Connecticut and director of the institution’s Native American Cultural Center in August 2019. Makomenaw, M.A. ’02 (Student Affairs Administration) and Ph.D. ’10 (Higher, Adult and Lifelong Education), has spent his career developing programs to advance Native education and cultural knowledge, working with Native students and communities to enhance access to and success in continuing education. Most recently, he was the college pathways manager at the American Indian College Fund.


PHILOMENA V. MANTELLA became president of Grand Valley State University in Michigan in July 2019. Mantella, Ph.D. ’90 (College and University Administration), is the university’s fifth president, and the first woman to hold the position. She has expertise in strategic planning, global market expansion and continuously improving education. Mantella previously served as senior vice president and chief executive officer of the Lifelong Learning Network at Northeastern University in Boston.


SIOBHAN MCVAY was a 2017 honoree of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. McVay, TCRT ’96 (Secondary Education), is a longtime science educator, and works at Delran High School in Delran, New Jersey. The annual honor is the highest recognition a K-12 STEM or computer science teacher may receive for outstanding education in the United States. 


CHRISTIE POITRA, Ph.D. ’15 (Education Policy), was appointed interim director of the MSU Native American Institute in September 2018. She also serves as an affiliate faculty member in the American Indian and Indigenous Studies program, and the MSU Bio/computational Evolution in Action CONsortium.


AMY RADFORD-POPP, Ph.D. ’06 (Higher, Adult and Lifelong Education), was appointed dean of student engagement for Olivet College in Michigan. Previously working in the MSU Broad College of Business for nearly 20 years, Radford-Popp joined Olivet in July 2019 to provide leadership for co-curricular engagement, residential life, health, wellness and academic success for students.


ERIKA SPONSLER was honored by Jackson Magazine in May 2019 as one of the Top 10 teachers in the county. Sponsler, TCRT ’97 (Secondary Education – Agriculture and Natural Resources, Social Science) and M.A. ’01 (Curriculum and Teaching), is a U.S. history teacher, and a class and yearbook advisor at Western High School. She has been a consultant to the Jackson County Intermediate School District, belongs to a variety of professional organizations and helped develop the Michigan Historical Museum Governor’s Decision Room, where students role-play events in the state’s history. She was also named as a Top Teacher in 2015.

MELODY STRANG, Ed.D. ’17 (Educational Administration) was one of two Spartans to receive the Nancy A. Colflesh Distinguished Alumni Award from the MSU Department of Educational Administration in October 2019. The award recognizes those who are excellent practitioners in the area of educational leadership. Strang is the superintendent of the Genesee School District. Previously, she served as the director of instructional technology and curriculum services and as a principal in Fenton Area Public Schools.


TODD YARCH, B.A. ’98 (Secondary Education – History), is the founding principal of Eaton Academy, a “turnaround” school in Eastpoint, Mich. The school, near Detroit, was established in July 2018, and is an opportunity for local students to work with a school and staff dedicated to academic and personal success. Yarch previously worked in Chicago Public Schools in a variety of capacities, including as STEM integration and curriculum director.


TRICIA ZEMAN, B.S. ’00 (Child Development) and TCRT ’02, was one of 10 named as Michigan Regional Teachers of the Year by the Michigan Department of Education (MDE). Zeman, a third-grade teacher at Sycamore Elementary in Holt Public Schools, joined the Michigan Teacher Leadership Advisory Council as part of the honor, bringing teachers’ voices to a wider audience through working with MDE and by providing input on policies and initiatives.


Four College of Education alumni were appointed to the Governor’s Educator Advisory Council by Gretchen Whitmer in May 2019. They will identify and analyze the effectiveness of education in Michigan, and also review and make recommendations regarding education-related legislation. The alumni join 11 other educators from across the state in the new council, created in January.  

BENEDICT L. PINEDA, B.A. ’88 (Social Science – Teaching), is a middle school teacher in Haslett Public Schools, specializing in social studies, life skills, drama and speech. His term expires May 2021. 

LISA R. RIVARD, B.A. ’96 (Elementary Education), is an adjunct professor at Wayne State University, and a K-12 language arts consultant for Macomb Intermediate School District. Her term expires May 2022. 

RAMONT M. ROBERTS, Ph.D. ’15 (K-12 Educational Administration), is the superintendent of schools for the School District of the City of Saginaw. His term expires May 2023.  

GREGORY TALBERG, M.A. ’07 (K-12 Educational Administration), is a teacher in Howell Public Schools, with a focus on AP psychology, U.S. government, social issues and sociology. His term expires May 2023.


Three alumni were recognized for their illustrious careers during the MSU International Studies and Programs annual awards ceremony in April 2019. The awards celebrate those who help solve the world’s problems in a variety of ways, including by internationalizing the student experience and advancing knowledge around the world. 

Outstanding Service to Education Abroad Award: Karen W. Lienhart

Karen W. Lienhart

Lienhart, M.A. ’85 (Adult and Continuing Education), joined the College of Natural Science as director for International and Off-Campus Education in 2007, retiring in 2019. During her time at MSU, she played a key role in advising the college’s international students, was involved in their education abroad program and helped install an evaluation protocol for planning. Among her many other services for the college, she has helped establish global student research opportunities and created evaluation surveys for students. 

Joon S. Moon Distinguished International Alumni Award: Suyanto


Suyanto, Ph.D. ’86 (Curriculum and Instruction), is a professor at Yogyakarta State University in Indonesia, where he was rector for seven years. He has also served as the Director General of Management for Primary and Secondary Education in the Ministry of National Education in Indonesia, where he managed thousands of schools and championed landmark national curriculum reform. Suyanto is an author, education consultant and ambassador to MSU, including by mentoring students and faculty in Education Abroad. 

Homer Higbee International Education Award: Connie Wolfe

Connie Wolfe

Connie Wolfe, M.A. ’83 (Elementary Education), is a participant with MSU Community Volunteers for International Programs, and tutors and teaches English through the Volunteer English Tutoring Program, I-SPEAK and the International Friendship Program. Through these initiatives, she provides support to international students, families and scholars, and helps them share about their culture. An author, former professor and administrator, she extends her volunteer work to refugee students in the Lansing area and with the Okemos High School band program. 


For two consecutive years, the College of Education has had alumni inducted to the MSU Athletics Hall of Fame for their achievements on the field as student-athletes. 


JAMES “JIMMY” RAYE, B.S. ’71 (Physical Education), was inducted into the Spartan Athletics Hall of Fame in September 2018. A former football player, Raye helped MSU win the national title in 1966, and later served on Coach Duffy Daugherty’s staff before a coaching career in the NFL, where he still works today. As part of a career development panel, he helps to improve the number of minority coaches, coordinators and general managers.

KAREN DENNIS, M.S. ’79 (Health and Physical Education), was inducted into the Spartan Athletics Hall of Fame in October 2019. She was a trailblazer in track and field: She is one of only four Spartan women to win a National Championship (1975) in indoor or outdoor seasons. She also was part of a world record-setting 4×160-yard relay team (1968) and a fifth-place finisher for the 220-yard dash at the 1968 U.S. Olympic trials. She coached at MSU for 15 seasons, including 11 as head coach and currently serves as director of track and field and cross country at Ohio State University. In 2018, she was unanimously selected as Big Ten Coach of the Year for the third time. 



The annual MSU Grand Awards Gala celebrates exceptional Spartans for making a daily impact in their organizations, communities and for the MSU community. In the October 2019 ceremony, three alumni were among the honorees:

Two alumni received the MSU Alumni Service Award, presented to Spartans who have demonstrated service to the university or meritorious public service at a local, state, national or international level. 


LURAL ANNICE BALTIMORE, M.A. ’73 (School Counseling), is a former area administrator for the Michigan Disability Determination Services. She was the first African American female regional district manager and spent 38 years with the organization. She was also a founding member of the MSU Black Alumni Association, which now supports Spartans through a number of endowment funds currently exceeding $2 million.    


CHARLES WEBB, Ph.D. ’82 (Higher Education), is president emeritus of Spring Arbor University and MSU vice president emeritus for university development. During his 32-year career with MSU, he was vice president for university development, and served as the Alumni Association’s executive director and the MSU Foundation’s president. In addition, he was assistant vice chancellor for development and alumni relations for the State University of New York system. 

The Distinguished Alumni Award honors those who have differentiated themselves through their professional accomplishments. 


JULIE A. AIGNER CLARK, B.A. ’88 (Secondary Education – English), is the chief executive officer and co-founder of WeeSchool and founder of Baby Einstein. She has also created the Emmy Award-winning Safe Side child safety videos. In addition, the two-time cancer survivor published a picture book that emphasizes the importance of love for cancer-coping families. She is the recipient of the 2015 Distinguished Alumni Award from the College of Arts and Letters. 



RYAN SNODDY, B.S. ’79 (Physical Education), retired in January 2019 as superintendent from Northwestern Schools in Indiana after 40 years with the district. Snoddy had served as a swim coach and in administrative roles at the middle and high school levels before becoming superintendent in 1999. 

He received multiple awards during his service, including the Indiana General Assembly – Citation for 20 Years of Service (2019); District III Indiana Association of Public School Superintendents – Superintendent of the Year (2002, 2012); and the District V Indiana Association of School Principals – High School Principal of the Year (1996) and President’s Award (2016). He also was involved with a variety of professional, statewide and national organizations. 

Throughout all that time, Snoddy continued to read to elementary students once a week. 

To cap off his career, Snoddy was inducted into the Northwestern School Corporation Athletic Hall of Fame in March 2019.

Jim Snoddy, professor emeritus of educational administration, shared this accolade.

Photos courtesy of: Oakland Schools (Cook-Robinson), Aldine ISD (Guenther), Emma K. Morris (Kruch), Amanda Pitts, Grand Valley State University Communications (Mantella), Andres Harris Photography (McVay), Stella Sponsler (Sponsler), MSU International Studies and Programs (Lienhart, Suyanto, Wolfe), Michigan State Athletics (Raye, Dennis)