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Chuck Carney
IU School of Education

Last modified: Thursday, December 1, 2011

$1 million gift endows new school psychology chair, lectureship at IU School of Education

Dec. 1, 2011

BLOOMINGTON, Ind.-- A new lectureship starts next fall and a future chair will be established in the Department of Counseling and Educational Psychology at the Indiana University School of Education thanks to a generous estate gift from Ronda C. Talley, a 1979 Ph.D. graduate of the school.

A nationally recognized leader in the field of educational psychology, Talley is a professor of psychology at Western Kentucky University. Her $1 million gift establishes the annual Ronda C. Talley Lectureship and the Talley Distinguished Chair in School Psychology Leadership, Policy & Advocacy.

Ronda Talley

Ronda C. Talley

Print-Quality Photo

Talley, a recipient of the IU School of Education's Distinguished Alumni Award in 1996, served with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in Atlanta until November 2010. At the CDC, she was associate director for policy, evaluation and legislation in the National Center on Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, and also a health scientist in the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities. Prior to that, she was the executive director of the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving at Georgia Southwestern State University and worked closely with the former first lady for whom the institute is named.

In making the gift, Talley said her varied career took off thanks to her doctoral studies at the IU School of Education. "I really appreciated the faculty who took the time to mentor me and help me along the way," she said. "My parents, Jack H. and Ronda M. Talley, and I wanted to be able to give back, to open the door for the program to expand its focus into policy and leadership in school psychology."

While a doctoral student at IU, Talley founded the national school psychology student group, Student Affiliates in School Psychology, a section of the American Psychological Association Division of School Psychology.

"Forming SASP was a way for me to advocate early in my career," she said. "My hope is that the distinguished chair will provide opportunities for IU to emphasize policy and advocacy as a career path for school psychologists and to provide educational as well as experiential opportunities for students to learn the power of translating psychological science into well-crafted public policy."

"We are so grateful for this gift by an alumna who has devoted her career to making sure our educational system works in the best ways for our most vulnerable," said IU School of Education Dean Gerardo Gonzalez. "We hope that our graduates seek to promote equity and access to a quality education for all. Ronda Talley's career is a testament to that pursuit, and this gift will help promote that cause."

The lecture and the eventual distinguished chair position will feature prominent individuals with a focus on policy, leadership and advocacy in school psychology at the local, state, national and international levels. The Department of Counseling and Educational Psychology is an international leader in its field, with the counseling psychology program most recently ranked ninth in the 2012 edition of U.S. News and World Report magazine's "Best Graduate Schools."

Talley is a licensed psychologist and school administrator who has practiced 17 years in public schools and has held leadership roles in academia and health and education policy. She was the executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based National Quality Caregiving Coalition and the National Alliance of Pupil Services Organizations. Talley was also assistant executive director for education, director of the Policy and Advocacy in the Schools Program, and founding director of the Center for Schools and Education at the American Psychological Association.

The grounding Talley received in the IU school psychology program was important in pursuing such a rich leadership career. "The school psychology training really prepares you to be entrepreneurial, and so you're well equipped to go in a lot of different career directions," she said. "I want to make it easier for students that come through the program after me to have the kinds of opportunities I craved and found for myself, like working at the national level, having legislative experiences, and having the experience of influencing things at a very macro level in terms of the environment in which education is delivered and the impact it has on children, schools and families. I want IU to have a reputation as the place to go if you want to be a leader in school psychology."

Talley said she wouldn't have had the many opportunities she has had without her start in the IU School of Education's Department of Counseling and Educational Psychology. "I still have faculty there and know retired faculty that I have the highest regard for and still appreciate what they gave to me when I was there -- their encouragement, their mentorship, their time and their wisdom," Talley said.