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April 19, 2007

College of Education honors distinguished alumni

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Purdue University's College of Education honored four of its graduates as Distinguished Education Alumni on Friday (April 13) during a ceremony at the Dick and Sandy Dauch Alumni Center.

Barbara Downing, Carol Lambdin, Dana Mackey and Phillip Wankat were honored for their successes in the education field.

"The College of Education is delighted to recognize outstanding alumni with the Distinguished Education Alumni Awards," said Dean George Hynd. "The talents and abilities of these alumni are an inspiration to current and future generations of teachers. We congratulate the honorees on their successes and achievements and look forward to their future accomplishments."

Distinguished alumni award recipients are:

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* Barbara Downing of Wilmington, N.C., who was honored with the Career Achievement Award. Downing received a bachelor's degree in elementary education and special education from Purdue in 1967. In 1981 she founded Tot Spot, LLC, where she serves as both director and teacher. Tot Spot, located in Wilmington, is a team of 21 caregivers, some of whom work full-time, part-time and on a substitute basis. Before founding Tot Spot, she served as a child-care advisory board member for Cape Fear Community College in Wilmington, was founder and director of Christ United Methodist Preschool in Shreveport, La., and was classroom teacher at Miami Elementary School in Lafayette, Ind.

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* Carol Lambdin of Dayton, Ohio, who was honored with the Mentor Award. Lambdin received a bachelor's degree in education from Purdue in 1967. She teaches first grade for Mad River Local Schools in Dayton. For the past 15 years, she has served as a mentor for the Mad River Local Schools' Entry Year program, through which she has guided more than 40 teachers during their first year of teaching.


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* Dana Mackey of Chicago, who was honored with the Young Educator Award. Mackey received a master's degree in education from Purdue in 1998. She works as a school counselor in Chicago Public Schools. Since joining the school system in 2000, she has developed a schoolwide, comprehensive guidance program, led faculty in-services and helped bring her school into compliance with national standards. Mackey also serves as a program director for Cabrini Connections in Chicago, bringing agencies, volunteers and fundraising events together in support of a tutoring and mentoring program for at-risk children.

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* Phillip Wankat of West Lafayette, Ind., who was honored with the Award of Distinction. He received his master's degree in education from Purdue in 1982. Wankat, Clifton L. Lovell Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering and Engineering Education and director of engineering education undergraduate degree programs, joined the Purdue faculty in 1970.  He has supervised more than 40 master's and doctoral students and is a key faculty member in the newly created department of engineering education at Purdue. Wankat is a member of the Indiana Project Lead the Way leadership team, which aims to create partnerships with schools to prepare students for success in science, engineering and engineering technology.

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Also honored at the ceremony was Maribeth Cassidy Schmitt, who received her bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees from Purdue in 1972, 1983 and 1987, respectively. Schmitt was awarded the Jean Adamson Stanley Faculty Chair in Literacy, established by Susan and Ronald Dollens in honor of Susan's mother, Jean Adamson. Schmitt is a clinical professor of literacy and language education, assistant head of curriculum and instruction, and director of the Purdue Literacy Network Project. She is one of only 55 international trainers of teacher leaders for the Reading Recovery program. In 2003 the Indiana General Assembly passed a resolution honoring Schmitt for her contributions to literacy learning and instructional leadership in Indiana. She is a former editor of an international journal on early literacy and the lead author of a recently published book titled, "Changing Futures: The Influence of Reading Recovery in the United States."

Writer: Tanya Brown, (765) 494-2079,

Source: Tonya Agnew, (765) 494-0568,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

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