Dr. Heather Ryan

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External Research Associate University of Alaska Anchorage Key Interests: special needs, disabilities, cross-cultural research, education/teaching/learning development.

Growing up in a close-knit village in the Peace Country of Northern Alberta, I cherish the contributions of committed teachers and supportive adults to the development of a healthy identity.  My PhD in Educational Psychology, 1995, focused on collaboration in education and its influence on human development. Strong partnerships and supportive relationships provide the transformational context required for the most satisfying learning and working conditions. I have learned a great deal about university administration through my time as Associate Dean in the Faculty of Education at the University of Regina and enriched by completion of the Senior University Administrators Course (hosted by the University of Manitoba) in 2010. Since July 2013 I serve as Dean for the College of Education at the University of Alaska Anchorage and continue as Adjunct Professor, Faculty of Education, University of Regina to complete a number of graduate students thesis and dissertation research.

I have taught since 1971, ranging from the joy and excitement of teaching five-year old new entrants in New Zealand to read, to teaching secondary sciences to young and old at Alberta College, to undergraduate and graduate students at the University of Alberta, Massey University in New Zealand, and the University of Regina.

In New Zealand and Canada, I investigated the working lives of teachers and their perception of what is needed to provide a healthy environment for all.  Understanding the increasing demands of education fuels my commitment to help individuals and school communities in developing self-determination skills and processes to create healthy contexts in which they can achieve their goals. My recent research investigated whether distance education improved access to and success in university courses for students with disabilities in Australia, New Zealand and Thailand. I am committed to increasing post-secondary access and academic achievement for marginalized people and with particular attention to first generation students in Alaska. Work-life balance and exercise are achieved through my country lifestyle and love for animals.