Campus News

Six UGA doctoral students in educational administration receive scholarships

Athens, Ga. – Six graduate students in the University of Georgia College of Education’s educational administration and policy program received scholarships at the group’s annual awards luncheon on Feb. 17 at River’s Crossing.

Ray E. Bruce Academic Support Awards
Timothy Bollier and Feiye Liang received Ray E. Bruce Academic Support Awards, a $1,500 annual scholarship for practitioner-scholars studying the theory and application of supervision in schools and school systems.

Bollier, a third-year doctoral student, is a social studies teacher at Mill Creek High School in Gwinnett County. His research focuses on how district mentorship programs can impact school leaders. Upon graduation, Bollier plans to become an assistant principal and eventually become a principal, as well as work in higher education. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois and master’s degree from National Louis University in Chicago.

Liang is a third-year doctoral student whose research focuses on the development of Backbone Teachers in K-12 public schools in China as exemplified by teacher leadership in the U.S. She offers international insights on the development and impact of teacher leaders in various contexts. She earned her master’s degree in education in Beijing Normal University in 2009 after working for two years as an English teacher in Chengxian College in Southeast University and received her bachelor’s degree in English literature and culture from Beijing Language and Culture University, all in China. Upon graduation, she plans to become a scholar and continue to do research in the educational leadership field.

David J. Mullen Memorial Scholarships
David Goldie, Jia Liang and Peter Jones received David J. Mullen Memorial Scholarships, which provide a $2,500 award for doctoral candidates preparing for a public school position.

Goldie, of Suwanee, a second-year doctoral student, is a mathematics teacher at Hopewell Middle School in Fulton County. His research focuses on the implementation of educational policy and the role of local communities in that process. His career began in the United Kingdom. After nine years working on submarines and four years as a telecommunications engineer, he studied for his bachelor’s degree in primary education at the College of St. Mark and St. John in Plymouth, England. He worked in United Kingdom primary schools for 10 years, the last two as an assistant principal. He has worked in elementary and middle schools in Fulton County for the past six-and-a-half years. He received his master’s degree in educational leadership from Georgia State University in 2008. After receiving his doctorate, he plans to become an assistant principal, but also is interested in working for the State Department of Education or another organization involved in educational policy.

Liang, a third-year doctoral student, has worked extensively with several scholars on campus and community projects related to student service, teacher professional development and educational policy. She interned at the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning, where she immersed herself with both research and administration. Additionally, she has co-authored and presented her work at several conferences across the U.S. Her current research focuses on women in leadership, educational change, and racial and ethnic identity development. Liang received her master’s degree and education specialist’s degree in adult and technical education at Marshall University in West Virginia. She earned her bachelor’s degree in English in China. Upon the completion of her studies, Liang plans to pursue a career in educational administration.

Jones a third-year doctoral student, currently serves as an assistant principal at Collins Hill High School in Gwinnett County. Before entering into leadership, he taught social studies for nine years. Jones earned his master’s degree in social studies education from Georgia State University, and an Educational Leadership Add-On Certificate from UGA. He received his bachelor’s degree in social studies education from Florida State University. His research focuses on operationalizing and measuring classroom rigor, while exploring the nature of teacher and student supports. Upon finishing his degree, he plans to become a principal.

Carroll Wade McGuffey Scholarship
Ryan Berens of Marietta, a second-year doctoral student, received the Carroll Wade McGuffey Scholarship. The $2,000 scholarship is awarded to a doctoral student whose studies include research into the impact of the school’s environment on teacher behavior, pupil behavior and learning.
Berens currently is working for the Georgia Department of Education in instructional technology. He oversees seven one-to-one schools that are working towards incorporating blended learning and the statewide technology assessment for eighth grade students. He also is part of the team that is implementing the Statewide Longitudinal Data System that was launched in 2010. Prior to working at the DOE, Berens served as an assistant principal with the Georgia Virtual School, was an instructional technology specialist at Kennesaw State University’s Educational Technology Center and taught history for five years at his alma mater, Marietta High School. Berens’ research focuses on the use of technology in the classroom, specifically blended learning in a one-to-one environment. He plans to show the effects of everyday technology use in the classroom on preparing college- and career-ready students. Berens earned his master’s degree in educational leadership from Kennesaw State University and his undergraduate degree at Rhodes College in Memphis. Upon completing his degree, he plans to become a principal or pursue a district office position that will allow him to lead a technology-focused school.
Faculty Scholar Awards
Ann Elizabeth Blankenship and Robert W. Gaines II received the program’s Faculty Award, which recognizes doctoral students who have excelled in scholarly writing.

Blankenship has focused her studies on education law and policy. Before coming to UGA, she served as a municipal and community development volunteer for the U.S. Peace Corps in Niger, West Africa. She worked as a civil litigator at law firms in Atlanta and Chattanooga for four years after earning a juris doctorate from the University of Tennessee College of Law in 2004. She received a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of the South in 2001.

Gaines, a fourth-year doctoral student, focuses his research on the intersection of race, religion and education, and the history of African-American education. He currently is writing his dissertation on the educational thought of Benjamin Elijah Mays. Gaines earned his master’s degree in English from Pennsylvania State University and received his bachelor’s degree in English at Morehouse College. He plans to pursue an academic career upon receiving his doctorate.

Visiting Scholar Award
Ahmad Bilal, a doctoral student in the Institute of Education and Research at the University of the Punjab, Pakistan, was recognized with the program’s Visiting Scholar Award in recognition of his contribution to the professional development of teachers for school improvement.

Bilal’s area of research is professional development of teachers. During his six-month visit to UGA, he has been refining his dissertation work under the supervision of Sally J. Zepeda, professor in the educational administration and policy program. He earned his master’s degree in education from the University of the Punjab in 1996. He taught in a public school in Lahore for 12 years, where he also served as a magazine editor, curricular activities leader and deputy controller examination. He received the Best Master Trainer Award 2002 by the Intel Teach to the Future Program in Pakistan. He worked with Punjab Textbook Board in the curriculum wing of the Lahore and Ministry of Education in Pakistan to review curriculum and textbook development. During his doctoral work, he received the Indigenous Scholarship and a foreign scholarship of the International Research Initiative Program by the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan. As a teacher trainer, he conducted more than 65 training sessions on pedagogy related areas throughout Pakistan. In recent years, as a practitioner, he has focused on school improvement and teacher evaluation. He designed a module for staff development by using teaching observation. This module has been piloted in Pakistan and can be implemented in any school after having slight customization regarding contextual needs.


Note to editors: For images of the scholarship award winners, contact Mike Childs at 706/542-5889 or