Spotlight: 2017 College of Education Alumna of the Year

Tina Kunzer-Murphy, UNLV Athletic Director and College of Education alumni honoree on February 13, 2017. (R. Marsh Starks / UNLV Creative Services)

Born and raised in Las Vegas, Tina Kunzer-Murphy has been a fixture in the Southern Nevada sports community for more than four decades. On July 1, 2013, she added another accomplishment to her long and varied career as she began serving as UNLV Interim Director of Athletics. The move marked two major milestones as Kunzer-Murphy became both the first woman and the first alumni to run the department. She was later named to the post permanently.

Graduating first with her bachelor’s in physical education in 1975 and returning in 1977 to complete her master’s in education from the College, Kunzer-Murphy says she is a proud graduate of UNLV because “[her] education has given [her] so many opportunities.”

UNLV Alumni Association President Patrick Smith presents Tina Kunzer-Murphy with the 2017 College of Education Alumni of the Year Award at the April 26 Recognition Event

“I am eternally thankful to all of the professors, family, and friends who helped me get my degrees,” said Kunzer-Murphy. “UNLV has always told me ‘yes’ when so many said ‘no.’ What a gift it has been—thank you!”

COE Student Named 2016 Truman Scholar

Ms. Hannah Kelley was chosen as one of only 54 students nationwide to win the prestigious 2016 Truman Scholar Award.


By Francis McCabe • Read article on UNLV News Center.

Kelley, a junior in UNLV’s College of Education and Honors College, is one of just 54 college students nationwide selected for the $30,000 award based on academics, public service leadership potential.

UNLV undergraduate Hannah Kelley is one of just 54 college students nationwide to win the prestigious 2016 Truman Scholar Award, the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation announced Wednesday evening.

Truman Scholars are selected for stellar academic and leadership performance and receive a $30,000 scholarship toward graduate school. Award winners also get the chance to participate in professional development programming to help prepare them for careers in public service leadership.

This is the second year in a row a UNLV Honors College undergraduate has won the prestigious award. And Kelley is the fourth UNLV student to win the award since 2008.

“Being recognized as a Truman Scholar is wonderful validation of Hannah’s incredible efforts, her desire to give back, and what we have always known at the Honors College – that she is amazing,” said Marta Meana, dean of the UNLV Honors College.

After completing her bachelor’s degree in education, the 21-year-old is hoping to dive into a teaching role here in Southern Nevada. “I want to start out as a teacher in the Clark County School District – the community that literally gave me everything I have,” she said. The 15-year plan, which the Truman Scholarship folks make applicants map out, includes four or five years of teaching before pursuing graduate work, Kelley said. Her plans for the summer will take her to the Mediterranean where she will be writing and reporting for an arts and culture blog in Israel.

Kelley, who will be the first in her family to graduate from college, said while in high school she always felt higher education was unattainable until some teachers began to encourage her. “I always wanted to go, but it seemed like a mysterious thing that was out of reach,” she said.

But Kelley had top-notch grades — she was valedictorian at Green Valley High School — and soon New York University offered her a scholarship. While it was a substantial offer, Kelley said, tuition expenses were still beyond her reach.

Kelley had never really considered UNLV, but that changed during a steakhouse lunch offered by the university to local high school valedictorians. She was offered a full scholarship and the opportunity to attend UNLV’s flourishing Honors College. “I had always had this idea of UNLV being a gigantic commuter school with no sense of community,” Kelley said. “But the Honors College is everything I was hoping for. It offers small class sizes under 20 students and makes you feel like you are attending a small liberal arts college, not a gigantic research university.”

And it was only by happenstance that Kelley even considered applying for the Truman Scholarship. She was attending an Honors College workshop about national scholarships being led by her friend and 2015 Truman Scholarship winner Daniel Waqar, when Kelley thought she might apply. “Every single thing I learned about the Truman Scholarship, about being an agent of change, how they were looking for people committed to a lifetime of public service, to work on public policy in health, education, and other fields… it just fit.”

Kelley knew she wanted to be a teacher to give back to the community. “But I also thought about how we can improve public education. And hearing those words about being an agent of change and giving a lifetime to public service, that’s the way I’ve always thought. That’s the purpose of my life,” Kelley said.

Earlier this week, Kelley learned about winning the Truman award while attending an afternoon class of Teaching and Learning Secondary Education. She covered her mouth with her hands as tears streamed down her face. She was overcome with joy. Dean Meana, who made the announcement, along with Education Dean Kim Metcalf and Kelley’s advisor Andrew Hanson, embraced her as fellow classmates applauded.

It was a moment Kelley won’t soon forget. “I never gave myself the credit for the things I could accomplish. I’m very humbled by this award. But I think it shows that anyone can do something like this if they just let themselves,” she said.

Kelley has maintained a strong academic record at UNLV – her GPA is 3.99 – while holding down jobs as a barista and sales associate.

Candidates for the Truman Scholarship go through a rigorous, multi-stage selection process. In 2016, there were a record number of 775 candidates for the award nominated by 305 colleges. The 200 finalists for the award were interviewed in March and early April at one of sixteen regional selection panels. The 54 Truman Scholars will receive their awards in a ceremony at the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum on May 29 in Independence, Missouri.

About the Harry S. Truman Scholarship

The Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation was created by Congress in 1975 to be the nation’s living memorial to President Harry S. Truman. The Foundation has a mission to select and support the next generation of public service leaders. The Truman award has become one of the most prestigious national scholarships in the United States.

Dean Kim Metcalf elected to AACTE’s Board of Directors

Metcalf will begin a 3-year term beginning March 1, 2016 to the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE).


The Board of Directors determines the policies that guide the program of activities of AACTE and ranges in size from 18 to 25 members, 14 of whom are selected through national elections.

The Board of Directors ranges in size from 18 to 25 members, 14 of whom are selected through national elections. Affiliated groups submit nominations for some seats, while others are at-large positions. Presidents and provosts are appointed, rather than elected, to the Board, and three directors are selected by the Advisory Council of State Representatives. In addition, the president/CEO serves on the Board in an ex-officio capacity.

The Board of Directors determines the policies that guide the program of activities of AACTE. It meets at least twice per year, as mandated in the bylaws, to carry out its many functions in connection with the operation and evaluation of the organization’s national program.

More information on the AACTE Board of Directors can be found at: http://aacte.org/about-aacte/governance

Dr. Kimberly Nehls Receives Annual Distinguished Scholar Award

Dr. Kimberly Nehls received the Annual Distinguished Scholar Award at the 28th Annual Ethnographic & Qualitative Research Conference (EQRC) in Las Vegas, February 1-2, 2016. This award highlights an attendee that has been active in the conference Particular consideration is given to evident scholarship and continued participation in the EQRC conference.

The awards are intended to (a) recognize quality scholarship among EQRC participants and (b) encourage able scholars to continue participating in the conference. EQRC will bestow 4-5 awards on an annual basis and they will be recognized in the conference program. We assembled an ad hoc committee of able scholars who had previously attended the EQRC conference and among whom had received the award last year. The committee reviewed CVs of individuals who previously have had longstanding participation with the conference and evidenced able scholarship in research conference presentations, journal publications, and other scholarly contributions to their respective fields. More information about the award can be found on the Annual McGraw Hill Distinguished Scholar Award site.