Dean Kathryn Chval promotes quality math education for underserved students

MU’s College of Education Dean Kathryn Chval was awarded the prestigious Iris M. Carl Equity and Leadership Award for significant contributions to the quality of mathematics education provided to underserved students.


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Kathryn Chval holds the Joanne H. Hook Dean’s Chair in Educational Renewal in the University of Missouri College of Education. Chval is also a Professor of Mathematics Education where her research focuses on effective preparation models and support structures for teachers, effective elementary mathematics teaching for English language learners and curriculum standards and policies.

For her significant contributions to promoting the quality of mathematics education provided to underserved students, Chval has been presented with the TODOS Iris M. Carl Equity and Leadership award.

TODOS is an international and professional organization that advocates for equity and excellence in mathematics education for all students. The honoree of this award is a mathematics educator who exhibits commitment to improving mathematics education for all students and has made contributions that have impacted equity and access for underserved students.

Chval received this award because her work in improving mathematics has influenced the school, community, leaders and practitioners and its impact has been sustained.

“I am extremely passionate about working with underserved populations and improving their access to quality education, especially Latinx students,” Chval said. “My primary research focus is improving the quality of teaching math for ELL learners through research, service and advocacy.”

Chval has been very involved with TODOS for a very long time serving as a keynote speaker, an advisor to the advocacy committee and collaborating with inaugural members. She has been collaborating with graduate students, and is very close to publishing a book that teaches educators how to teach math to English-language learners.

Those who know Chval can attest to her drive, where increasing equity and promoting leadership goes way beyond research, the classroom or even just a mathematics education. She works tirelessly to be a mentor, advocate and support for students, staff and faculty in the College of Education and in the Columbia community. A close collaborator with Chval, Eryca Neville, principal of Douglass High school and College of Education alumna, believes Chval is a fantastic resource to the community.

“She is very personable and exudes women’s empowerment and leadership,” Neville said. “I admire her attentiveness and the fact that she treats people like people, not like titles, regardless of what level you are at. That level of commitment helps to reinforce how I handle my interactions when I am in my spaces also.”

According to the College’s website, Chval has directed or co-directed research teams that received nearly $21 million in funding and has been funded continuously by the NSF since 1995.

Additionally, Chval has authored more than 60 research publications, including 17 books, and is the recipient of the prestigious NSF Early Career Award and the Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators Early Career Award.

Chval’s working model emphasizes genuine collaboration without power dynamics and separation, as experienced by Sonya Nistendirk, executive staff assistant to the Dean’s office.

“As a staff member, I love working with Dean Chval, she makes me feel like a true partner in the work we do here, not like someone who is at a lower level,” Nistendirk said.

Supporting diverse students is a very prominent and important role to Chval based on accounts by Helen Young, a doctoral student in the College of Education.

“Dean Chval is very available and immediately supportive, regardless of how busy her schedule is,” Young said. “I was struggling to find someone to talk to during a tough time and she stepped up…she is very action-oriented and does the leg work to find you resources and make any connections you need.”

Young also explained that the support did not stop there.

“Even after, she was still very much available and continuously reached out to see how I was doing,” Young said. “I remember her saying that she was looking forward to shaking my hand at graduation and that was very motivating, she inspired me to keep pushing through adversity.”

Edited by Janae McKenzie |

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