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  McCalley accepts position of acting dean of School of Education  
  Kansas City, MO    
June 15, 2010

Sue McCalleyThe roots of Sue McCalley’s nearly two-decade love affair with Avila University trace back to a story that is far from feel-good.

When McCalley was hired by Avila as a professor in the School of Education back in the early 1990s, she originally thought it would be a short stop in her career – a year, maybe two at the most. Through her doctoral work at Kansas University, she developed a teacher therapist program and was putting that program to practical use in Kansas City, Kan. when she was severely injured by one of the boys with whom she was working. Eventually, she had to have two knee surgeries and both hips replaced.

“While I was healing, a position came open at Avila,” McCalley said. “I told myself I’d be here a couple years and then go back to doing what I was doing before, working with children.”

That was 17 years ago. Today, McCalley is leading the School of Education as the acting dean. She’ll hold that position on an interim basis for the 2010-2011 academic year.

“I never thought I’d be here this long,” she reiterated.

McCalley pointed to four primary reasons she’s stayed with Avila. Utmost is the leadership of Sr. Marie Joan Harris, the university’s provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, whom McCalley said she greatly admires for her intellect, integrity and inspiration.

Second, McCalley said, is the faculty, both in the School of Education and Department of Psychology. Third, she said Avila attracts a different kind of student.

“I’ve taught at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and KU,” she said. “There’s just something different about an Avila student. They work hard, are just more serious and conscientious about their studies.”

The fourth and final factor in McCalley’s long-term love affair with Avila, she said, was the university’s flexibility in allowing its faculty to branch out into other endeavors.

“Avila allows you to accept all sorts of other opportunities at professional development,” she said.

McCalley has traveled the world working with special education children but said the second half of this decade has been dedicated to sticking close to home to help Avila in gaining its Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education accreditation and starting a graduate program in literacy. She was named the university’s Professor of the Year in 2008 and, that same year, earned the Medal of Honor.

This next year will keep her even closer to the university as she leads the School of Education to new horizons.

“We’ve started mapping our curriculum thanks to Andria Stokes,” McCalley said. “There are several movements currently taking place in education, particularly opportunities with globalization. We want to develop several levels of partnerships in addition to what we already have. We also want to expand our role in the community.

“I’m really excited to be dean of this program.”


About Avila University
Avila University is a private, co-educational, values-based liberal arts institution founded by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, offering undergraduate, graduate, and adult degree programs. Avila University is located at 119th and Wornall Rd in southwest suburban Kansas City, Mo.