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Maria Coady Named NC State College of Education’s Inaugural Goodnight Distinguished Professor in Educational Equity

Maria Coady

Maria Coady will join the NC State College of Education as the inaugural Goodnight Distinguished Professor in Educational Equity, effective Aug. 16, 2022.

The endowed Goodnight Distinguished Professor in Educational Equity was established with a $1.5 million gift from Ann and Jim Goodnight to attract a field-leading faculty member to advance the college’s commitment to equity and educational impact through groundbreaking research, teaching and service. Matching funds increased the gift’s total to $2.1 million. 

“We are thrilled to welcome Maria Coady to our College of Education, where her work will help advance our land-grant mission to make a transformative impact on society and advance the greater good,” said NC State College of Education Dean Paola Sztajn. “Her asset-based approach to serving multilingual learners in regions with greater needs and fewer resources will benefit students and educators across the state, particularly in rural communities, and help ensure our K-12 schools are a place where all students can belong and succeed.”

Coady most recently served as the Irving and Rose Fein Endowed Professor of Education and professor of English speakers of other languages (ESOL) and bilingual education at the University of Florida’s College of Education.

“I’m so excited about joining the faculty in the NC State College of Education. I really feel like this is just a wonderful place for my research,” Coady said. “There has been a nearly 200% growth in multilingual students across the state of North Carolina within the last decade. We have a lot of work to do, and I think we can make a tremendous, significant difference. I’m really ready to be on the ground to work with and meet people in the state.” 

Coady’s research focuses on English language and multilingual learners in rural settings with a particular focus on students’ literacy and language development, educational practices for rural multilingual students and ways educators and schools can best engage multilingual learners and their families. 

Her research over the past 20 years has also investigated the way in which place matters in educator preparation as well as in the work educators do with multilingual learners and families. 

“This is a very narrow area of research that taps into a lot of the demographics and a lot of the very exciting changes that have taken place in North Carolina in the past eight to 10 years, where there has been a tremendous growth in multilingual learners, specifically in rural communities,” Coady said. “One of the things I love so much about coming to NC State is that North Carolina has 100 counties and 80 of them are designated as rural. To me, that’s wonderful.”

Over the course of her career, Coady has authored or co-authored more than two dozen books and book chapters and produced several short films, including Small Town, Big Dreams, which chronicles the story of an immigrant family in a rural Florida community and the efforts of their elementary school to create community classrooms where multilingual students could build confidence. 

Coady is also a three-time Fulbright Scholar, having worked on projects related to multilingual education in South Africa, Ukraine and Poland.

She has been awarded more than $10 million in grant funding, including from the U.S. Department of Education, the Spencer Foundation and the Ford Foundation, and received the American Educational Research Association (AERA) Exemplary Contributions to Practice-Engaged Research Award in 2020. 

Coady earned her Ph.D. in social, bilingual and multicultural foundations of education from the University of Colorado at Boulder; an honorary diploma in teaching from National University in Kryvyi Rih, Ukraine; a master’s degree in language, literacy and cultural studies from Boston University; and a bachelor’s degree in international perspectives and business administration from the University of New Hampshire. 

This professorship was made possible through a gift from Dr. Jim and Mrs. Ann Goodnight. The Goodnights are NC State alumni and served as co-chairs of the recently concluded Think and Do the Extraordinary Campaign. Jim Goodnight — the founder and CEO of SAS — earned a B.S. in applied mathematics in 1965, an M.S. and doctorate in statistics in 1968 and 1972, respectively, and the university conferred an honorary degree to him in 2002. Ann Goodnight earned a B.A. in political science in 1968, works as the senior director of community relations at SAS and serves on the North Carolina State University Board of Trustees.