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2021: Our Year in Review

Record enrollment. Record giving. Record grants awarded. In 2021, our college continued to make a transformative impact on society through the extraordinary educators we prepare, the knowledge we generate and the educational problems we solve.

Despite ongoing challenges, the NC State College of Education had another extraordinary year in 2021. Our faculty and staff won local and national awards while setting a new record for grants awarded. Meanwhile students set records for enrollment and benefitted from new scholarship efforts, and our alumni were recognized for their impact on in the field of education. Explore how we advance the greater good and browse some of our biggest stories in 2021.

1. We supported more students than ever before thanks to donors and partners.

Students at New Graduate Student Orientation in August 2021

The College of Education set a fundraising record in 2021, providing even more support for students who need it most. This funding will allow us to prepare educators for regions with greater needs and fewer resources and support students who demonstrate a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.

Meet the Director of the Transformational Scholarships Program

Trisha Mackey ’18MED joined NC State’s College of Education as the inaugural director of the Transformational Scholarships Program Dec. 1.

Trisha Mackey

2. Our faculty and staff received local and national honors for their exemplary work and service.

Professor Hollylynne Lee delivers a lecture on NC State’s campus in September 2021 as a finalist for Baylor University’s prestigious Robert Foster Cherry Award for Great Teaching.

College of Education faculty and staff were recognized for their excellence in teaching, their impact on research and policy and their service to others through numerous awards in 2021.

NC State College of Education Professor Joy Gaston Gayles delivers her presidential speech at the 2021 ASHE conference
Professor and Senior Advisor for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Joy Gaston Gayles delivers her installation speech as president of the Association of the Study for Higher Education in November 2021.

3. Our college continued to advance diversity, equity and inclusion.

Through research, outreach and events in 2021, faculty, students and staff in the College of Education continued to build diverse, equitable and inclusive schools, colleges and communities.


More than 2,000 College of Education faculty, staff, students and educators attended events related to diversity, equity and inclusion hosted by the College of Education in 2021.

4. Publications ranked our college and programs among the best in the nation and world.

The College of Education was once again recognized among the best colleges of education in the nation and world in 2021. For the second year in a row, U.S. News ranked the college in the Top 40. Times Higher Education’s World University Rankings ranked NC State among the Top 100 universities for education degrees in the world.


ranked graduate college of education in the nation


graduate programs ranked in education specialty areas


ranked among colleges for education degrees worldwide

5. We leveraged grant-funded research projects to drive educational change and address pressing educational problems. 

Researchers working with robot

Faculty continued to transform the practice of teaching, learning and leading, and increase diversity, equity and access in education through their research efforts in 2021. With more than 70 new grants awarded, their work is improving scientific literacy, connecting families to resources, developing extraordinary teachers and school leaders, and preparing adults for workforce demands.


three-year average in grants awarded


new grants awarded in 2020-21


in research expenditures in 2020-21

6. We welcomed new faculty and administrators, including an interim dean.

Interim Dean Paola Sztajn with a student in Poe Hall.
Interim Dean Paola Sztajn with a College of Education student in Poe Hall in November 2021.

In 2021, the College of Education welcomed Paola Sztajn as interim dean as former Dean Mary Ann Danowitz stepped down to rejoin the faculty. In addition, we welcomed several new faculty members who will help drive the college’s mission for educational change.

Mary Ann Danowitz holding Penn State College of Education's Alumni Excellence Award
Former Dean Mary Ann Danowitz holding the Penn State College of Education’s Alumni Excellence Award she received in October 2021.

7. We are preparing even more extraordinary educators who have built a reputation as North Carolina’s best educators.

Doctoral student being hooded.

The College of Education welcomed it’s most students in a decade during the start of the 2021-22 academic year this fall. We also graduated 539 new alumni, who will impact education through their teaching and research.


students enrolled to start the 2021-22 academic year


students graduated in 2021

8. We mourned the loss of Lee Stiff.

In 2021, the College of Education mourned the loss of Lee Stiff, a longtime faculty member and leader who passed away in March. Stiff served and led in the College of Education for 37 years and was a nationally recognized thought leader in mathematics education.

Dr Stiff