NDPC Research and Practitioner Fellows

The National Dropout Prevention Center Research Fellows contribute to the National Dropout Prevention Center's mission of reducing the incidence of dropout and increase high school graduation rates nationwide through research and evidence-based solutions.

In their roles with NDPC, Research Fellows have the opportunity to engage in and publish dropout prevention research, present their work at national conferences, and serve as content experts for NDPC initiatives.

June 2012 Press Release

NDPC Research Fellows Meta-Analysis


Current Fellows

View Inaugural Fellows

Dr. Gloria Boutte

Dr. Gloria Boutte, Professor
University of South Carolina

Dr. Gloria Boutte is a professor at the University of South Carolina. For more than three decades, Dr. Boutte’s scholarship, teaching, and service have focused on equity pedagogies and teaching for social justice. She has served as Department Chair and held a distinguished endowed chair for four years. Dr. Boutte is the author/editor of numerous publications and four books: (1) African Diaspora Literacy: The Heart of Transformation in K-12 Schools and Teacher Education (forthcoming) (2) Educating African American Students: And how are the children; (3) Multicultural Education: Raising Consciousness and (4) Resounding Voices: School Experiences of People From Diverse Ethnic Backgrounds. She has more than 90 publications. Additionally, she has presented nationally and internationally on equity, community, curriculum, instruction, and diversity issues. She has received prestigious awards such as the Fulbright Scholar and Fulbright Specialist. Dr. Boutte is the founder of the Center of Excellence for the Education and Equity of African American Students (CEEEAAS). She has presented her work internationally in London, Cameroon, Colombia, China, Sierra Leone, Ghana, England, Zambia, Botswana, South Africa, Australia, Guyana, Jamaica, Mexico, New Zealand, Nigeria, and Canada.

Beverly Cross

Beverly E. Cross
Moss Chair of Excellence in Urban Education
University of Memphis

Beverly Cross is the Morrie and Lillian Moss Chair of Excellence in Urban Education in the College of Education, Health and Human Sciences. She received her BS degree from Alabama A&M University and her MA and PhD degrees from The Ohio State University. During her professional service in education over the past 38 years, she worked in Ohio as a high school teacher and state department of education supervisor.  As a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee she co-led an innovative program to prepare teacher leaders for urban schools. Since arriving in Memphis 12 years ago, she has designed a Graduate Certificate in Urban Education, created The Center for Urban Interdisciplinary Research and Engagement), and coordinated the Johnson Scholars Program that develops exceptional urban educators for Shelby County Schools.

Her research focuses on equity in education, urban education, and teacher education.  Her research has appeared in national scholarly journals such as the International Journal of Educational Reform, Educational Leadership, the Journal of Curriculum and Pedagogy and Education Studies. She guest edited a special issue of the journal, Theory Into Practice, focused on urban education.  In addition to numerous book chapters, she co-edited two books:  A Look Inside Social Justice Practices:  A Primer for Social Justice and Teacher Lives in the Bluff City:  Voices and Perspectives from Classrooms.

She was recently served as co-PI on a grant entitled the African and African American Institute that engages an interdisciplinary group of faculty, university students, and classroom teachers in learning abroad in Ghana.  This experience is used to offer a summer institute for area high school students to enable them to make strong connections between African and African history, arts, and culture (proven to enhance academic achievement). She enjoys and dedicates her extensive work with teachers and district leaders.

Recently she contributed to the new design for teacher preparation at the University of Memphis that focuses on preparing teachers who are:
grounded in urban education, trained to teach with culturally relevance, steeped in their content knowledge, and all hail from the local Memphis area and can bridge community to education.

Dr. Jennie Farmer

Assistant Professor of Special Education
Department of Education and Human Development
Special Education Program
College of Education
Clemson University

I am currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Education and Human Development at Clemson University where I teach courses in the Special Education and Educational Foundations Programs. My research interests include improving educational and quality of life outcomes for students with high incidence disabilities, particularly those with learning disabilities and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and those who are twice exceptional. My research within special education primarily focuses on the intersection of academic and social-emotional needs through the use of learning strategies, self-determination, and positive psychology. I also conduct research related to research methodology and analysis in the area of single-case designs.

Dr. David Fleming

Associate Dean
Clemson University’s Graduate School
College of Education
Clemson University

Dr. Fleming is an expert at integrating subject matter content into out-of-school education programs for at-risk youth. As one of the 15 strategies for dropout prevention identified by the NDPC, before and after school as well as summer programs have great potential for addressing the needs of students in underperforming schools and underserved communities.

Dr. Fleming has taught at the elementary, high school, undergraduate and graduate levels and currently teaches research methods at Clemson. He has an extensive publication and presentation record and has secured over $4 million in externally funded grants to support his work. In addition, he has held leadership positions in professional organizations at the local, regional and national levels such as the Out-of-School Time SIG in the American Educational Research Association (AERA) and the Society of Health and Physical Education (SHAPE America) as well as volunteering with American Legion sponsored summer leadership programs.

Currently, Dr. Fleming is the Principal Investigator for GoalPOST (Goal-Oriented Performance in Out of School Time), a partnership between Clemson University and Anderson School Districts #1 and #4 and Pickens County School District. Among the emphases of GoalPOST is to integrate project oriented activities with goal-setting skills to improve academic achievement. The program also incorporates physical activity as a lifelong practice. The project involves over 450 elementary students and their families and is funded by the US Department of Education. The GoalPOST Project received the College Award of Excellence at Clemson University in 2012.

Dr. Randy Heinrich

Dr. Randy Heinrich
Contributing Faculty
College of Social and Behavioral Sciences
Barbara Solomon School of Social Work and Human Services
Walden University

Dr. Randy Heinrich is a retired soldier and former educator who resides with his wife, Terri, and their dogs in sunny and mountainous Arizona.  He earned his doctorate in organizational leadership at the University of Phoenix in 2004, as well completed graduate studies in education, counseling, business administration, education administration, and international relations at Chapman University, Northern Arizona University, and Boston University.  He served in the Army as an intelligence analyst across the United States, Central America, and Europe.  After retiring from the service, he served in teaching and administrative roles in support of at-risk and special needs youth in a rural school district, and taught a number of courses for colleges and universities primarily in leadership, research, education, and psychology, and supervised teacher candidates during practica. He remains active in alternative school and dropout prevention research, as well as support for youth through advocacy initiatives.  He serves as referee for the Journal of At-Risk Issues, faculty for graduate and doctoral research for Argosy University, National University, and Walden University, and co-authored Do Children Drop Out of School in Kindergarten? A Reflective, Systems-based Approach for Promoting Deep Change.


Dr. Eurmon Hervey

Director of Accreditation at Southern University & A&M College
Baton Rouge, LA
Former Chairman of the National Dropout Prevention Center

Dr. Eurmon Hervey is National Vice President and Superintendent of Schools for Catapult Learning. He is an accomplished educational executive with a comprehensive blend of non-profit, government, and academic management experience. He has served in senior leadership positions in colleges and universities in the Mid-Atlantic and Southern geographical regions. In Washington DC, he served as Assistant State Superintendent and Deputy Chief State School Officer, where he worked directly with District of Columbia Public Schools. Dr. Hervey earned the Doctor of Education from Peabody College of Vanderbilt University and the Master of Education from Harvard University. He also earned two degrees in pure mathematics; the Master of Science from Clark Atlanta University and the Bachelor of Science from Edward Waters College.

Dr. Greg Hickman

Core Faculty/Program Coordinator
Department of Human Services
Walden University
Editor of the Journal of At-Risk Issues

Dr. Dr. Greg Hickman served as a referee for The Journal of At-Risk Issues (JARI) from 2004 to 2008 and as an assistant or associate editor from 2008 to 2016 before becoming editor of JARI in 2017. Dr. Hickman has won numerous teaching and research awards. His research interests include program evaluation, ed-psych, developmental psychology, family science, and for-profit education. Greg has taught courses related to methods of research, statistics, assessment, life span development, adolescent development, and civic leadership. He has served as chair and methodologist on numerous student dissertations. The Journal of At-Risk Issues is a biannual, scholarly journal that has been published by the National Dropout Prevention Center since 1994. It is an important vehicle for dissemination of research for practitioners, policymakers, and other researchers in the field of at-risk issues. Through the networks and collaborative work of the NDPC Research Fellows, the journal should continue to grow and bring new perspectives to these issues.

Shanan Chappell Moots, Ph.D.

Research Analytics and Research Associate Professor
The Center for Educational Partnerships
Old Dominion University

Shanan Chappell Moots, Ph.D., currently serves as Director for Research Analytics and Research Associate Professor in The Center for Educational Partnerships at Old Dominion University. She has served or is currently serving on nearly $28 million in externally funded educational research projects, primarily program evaluations, military child and family educational studies, STEM projects, and college and career readiness initiatives. Dr. Chappell Moots also has an appointment as Research Fellow with the National Dropout Prevention Center and is a certified Dropout Prevention Specialist. She has collaborated on projects with faculty and researchers from universities and organizations across the United States and has authored or co-authored numerous peer-reviewed journal articles and technical reports, including publications in the Journal of Education for Students Placed at Risk, Preventing School Failure, Online Learning, and Research in Science Education.


Dr. Randy Nelson

Program Director
Bethune Cookman University Criminal Justice Administration Graduate Program

Dr. Randy B. Nelson currently serves as the Program Director for the Bethune Cookman University Criminal Justice Administration Graduate Program. Dr. Nelson’s educational background includes a B.A. degree in Sociology from Eckerd College, a M.A. degree in Criminology from the University of South Florida, and Ph.D. in Criminology and Criminal Justice from Florida State University. His academic and professional career has focused on developing and evaluating delinquency prevention methodologies designed to address the problems negatively impacting disadvantaged communities. Dr. Nelson has an extensive history of working with non-profit faith- and community-based social service organizations to develop and effectively achieve their programmatic and outcome goals. Dr. Nelson is the Founder of the Situational Environmental Circumstances (SEC) Mentoring Model which was designed to meet the unique educational, social, emotional needs of high-risk Black males. The SEC Mentoring Program has been implemented at each of Florida’s Historically Black Colleges & Universities, as well as Florida State University, University of Florida, and the University of Central Florida. Dr. Nelson has presented at various state and national conferences on effective engagement strategies for young Black males and authored numerous reports and publications on the disproportionate representation of minority youth in Florida’s juvenile justice system. Dr. Nelson has also served as an adjunct faculty member at Florida A & M University and Florida State University where he was responsible for the instruction and evaluation of undergraduate and graduate criminal justice students. His work experience includes employment with the Florida Departments of Corrections and Juvenile Justice. Dr. Nelson is a nationally recognized law enforcement trainer in the areas of community policing and engagement strategies.

Dr. Patrick O'connor

Dr. Patrick O’Connor

Associate Professor in the College of Teaching Learning and Curriculum Studies
Kent State University

My primary duties at Kent State University are to coordinate teacher education programs in Career-Technical Education. The program prepares teachers for secondary education teaching and we also offer an endorsement for teachers with academic licenses who wish to work with students identified as dropout potential. In addition, my scholarly interests are in workforce and economic development especially the role of literacy and life-long learning. As employers demand more of employees, students must be better prepared to meet the demands of the current and future workforce.

I view both areas as contributing to keeping students in school. Career-Technical Education has a long history of appealing to students who prefer more contextual types of learning. And, as the workforce becomes more sophisticated, entering employees will need greater academic skills which require improved literacy. We have infused instruction for Career-Technical teachers in how to support their student’s reading and academic abilities.

Dr. Dina Pacis

Dr. Dina Pacis
Associate Professor and Chair
Department of Educational Administration School Counseling and School Psychology
Sanford College of Education
National University
Assistant Editor of the Journal of At-Risk Issues

Dr. Dina Pacis is a faculty member and Department Chair for Educational Administration School Counseling and Psychology at the Sanford College of Education at National University. In addition to Educational Administration, School Counseling and School Psychology, Dr. Pacis oversees the Higher Education Administration and Applied Behavior Analysis programs. Dr. Pacis is a former PK-12 educator who spent almost 20 years as a public school administrator, peer coach/staff developer, and teacher. Her research interests include program evaluation, women in leadership, diversity, and social justice. She has taught courses related to methods of teaching and research, clinical practice for administrators and teachers, supervision of teachers, education law, and curriculum and instruction.The Journal of At-Risk Issues is a biannual, scholarly journal that has been published by the National Dropout Prevention Center since 1994. It is an important vehicle for dissemination of research for practitioners, policymakers, and other researchers in the field of at-risk issues. Through the networks and collaborative work of the NDPC Research Fellows, the journal will continue to grow and bring new perspectives to these issues.

Dr. Robert Shumer

Research Associate University of Minnesota

Little did I know more than 40 years ago when I started as a Reading Teacher at a high school in L.A. County working with students who were poor readers and hated school that I would spend the majority of my educational career dealing with all kinds of initiatives involved in dropout prevention and school change. I was involved with the Career Education movement in the 1970s and 1980s, the experiential education movement in higher ed/k-12 as Director of Field Studies at UCLA (and as a board member for the National Society for Internships and Experiential Education), and later as Director of the National Service-Learning Clearinghouse at the University of Minnesota.

Professionally, I am currently a Research Associate/Adjunct Professor at the University of Minnesota where I have taught courses on service-learning, experiential education, vocational and technical education, curriculum, and participatory evaluation. I am currently serving as the lead internal evaluator for the National Research Center for Career and Technical Education at the University of Louisville, have conducted more than 30 research studies on various topics, from service-learning and national service, to intergenerational programs, civic engagement initiatives, career and technical education, and youth led evaluation. I have published several books and more than 50 book chapters, articles, and monographs on a multitude of topics.

Almost all of my work has centered on two themes: student engagement and community connected learning. Overall, these are two of the most important topics related to dropout prevention and student retention in school and college. So, after all these years, I’m still working in the same issues I did when I began: making learning interesting, exciting, and meaningful for both students and the larger society.

Dr. Dolores Stegelin

Professor Emeritus of Early Childhood Education
College of Education
Clemson University

The academic success of students depends on the early foundations of education that take place in the preschool years. Research continually shows that children who engage in quality early childhood programs are more likely to succeed in their later academic efforts, particularly young children from low-SES homes or homes that are experiencing parental and life stressors. One of the 15 strategies for dropout prevention is early childhood education, and this strategy helps to set the stage for success in school attendance, school success, and long-term economic gains for both the student and society.