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Honors and Awards

Associate Professor of English Education Crystal Chen Lee Receives College of Education’s Inaugural Faculty Strategic Excellence Award

Associate Professor of English Education Crystal Chen Lee has been selected as the recipient of the NC State College of Education’s inaugural Faculty Strategic Excellence Award. 

Started in 2024, the award honors one faculty member each year who has made significant contributions to the advancement of the College of Education’s mission through excellence in teaching, research and service, and who has demonstrated exceptional efforts aligned with the four focus areas of the College of Education’s Strategic Plan: 2023-2030: innovation, inclusiveness, interdisciplinarity and impact. 

“I am grateful and honored to receive the inaugural Faculty Strategic Excellence Award because I try to do work that matters, work that would make a real positive impact on people’s lives, especially in the lives of youth,” Lee said. “Part of doing that work is to bring people along in the journey, whether that is College of Education students, faculty, community members, youth, teachers, leaders or various scholars across multiple fields. In this journey, I aim to foster inclusiveness because I believe that with an inclusive team and mission, we are all better able to foster innovation that makes a greater impact together.”

Lee’s research focuses on critical literacy theory, community engagement and marginalized youth populations. In nominating Lee for the award, her colleague cited that she “embraces innovation, integrates interdisciplinarity into her work, fosters inclusiveness and amplifies her impact through partnerships and networking.”

Lee is the founder of the Literacy and Community Initiative (LCI), which partners with multiple community-based organizations to amplify and empower youth voices through publications, advocacy and leadership. Student authors in LCI have sold over 2,500 copies of their books, which have been shared at more than 25 public reading events over the past several years. 

“Through her work, Dr. Lee has made a profound impact on the field of literacy education and the practice of community-based learning,” Dean Paola Sztajn said. 
Lee also created two educational equity courses for doctoral students and is a founding member and Ph.D. coordinator for the Ph.D. in Teacher Education and Learning Sciences educational equity concentration. In addition, she is a member of NC State’s AI in Society group, served as senior personnel on the Data Science Academy’s Researchers in AI for Safety and Ethics (RAISE) project and is the co-principal investigator on an interdisciplinary grant focused on empathy in AI in equitable microtransit.